I live a block away from the delicious intersection of Grom Street and Beard Papa Avenue on the Upper West Side. Ever since Grom opened its doors, dispensing costly but delicious gelati and sorbetti, I have felt sorry for the young Japanese workers at the much emptier Beard Papa. If they weren't so even-tempered and polite, they would be standing outside their storefront yelling, "Why are you waiting on line like sheep at Grom? There's no waiting for our just-as-refreshing mango ice shower, it's much bigger, and it costs a quarter less!"
I was contemplating this state of affairs last weekend as I walked past Grom on my way to the farmers' market on 77th Street and Columbus Avenue. Shockingly, Grom was empty. It was as if Mussolini had parted the Mediterranean. Instead of spending a five-spot on a teeny scoop of pistachio gelato or grapefruit sorbetti, I ordered a Sicilian lemon granita. I watched the counterperson scoop a surprisingly ample portion of shaved ice into an eight-ounce cup. A Grom granita turned out to be a designer version of an old-fashioned Italian ice, only better, thanks to its perfect lemony, sweet-tart flavor balance.
I then went next door to Beard Papa and ordered a mango ice shower. A mango ice shower is made of layers of mango syrup, shaved ice, mango slices, and a shot of condensed milk. It is unbelievably delicious and refreshing, a perfect antidote to a humid New York summer's day. And it's even bigger than a Grom granita and costs $4.50, a quarter less than Grom's granita. For another buck, Beard Papa will throw in a scoop of mango sorbet, but it's unnecessary.
So all things being equal (which they never are, since there is invariably a long line at Grom), which ice do I prefer? They're both great, they're both delicious, and here's the kicker: They both last a really long time. It takes me at least ten minutes to finish either one, whereas I finish a small Grom gelato or a Beard Papa cream puff in seconds. But if I had to choose, I would go with the mango ice shower. It's that good.
So if you find yourself craving a bit of refreshing deliciousness this weekend in New York, head to the corner of 76th and Broadway and buy yourself a cup of long-lasting pleasure.