Country of origin: France
Locations worldwide: 56 in Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, New Caledonia, Spain
NYC locations: One, in Greenwich Village
In a city already teeming with chilly treats—both homegrown and from abroad—you might wonder if we really need a new interloper. Maybe we do. Amorino, a Parisian import that opened in early June, is the latest gelato chain to make an appearance in NYC. It strikes a balance between the purist seriousness of Grom and Timi's unabashed kookiness (don't forget those sundaes with faces).
The closest thing Amornio has to a gimmick is the way that the young counterwomen use spatulas to scoop and mold as many flavors as you'd like into the shape of a rose. Cups and cones are purchased by size; how many varieties you want crammed inside each vessel is up to you. With the lines that have been permanently snaking through the corner shop, though, I wouldn't have the nerve to ask for the entire menu in a single serving.
A cup, though less pretty—as you can see, this mélange barely resembles Amorino's precise promo shot—is more practical (gigante, $9.50). The smooth, pliable texture is perfect for those who like their gelato soft like I do, but the softness doesn't hold up well in the heat. The cones' creamy petals start wilting before even making it out the door.
Some flavors are more striking than others. This quartet was made up of a mild salted caramel that only gave off a saline hit with every few bites, a wonderfully chunky sorbet made from Sri Lankan coconut, distinctive toasted hazelnut, and a vanilla striped with Amarena cherries.
Nothing is terribly out there; Amorino's premise is simply quality ingredients, no artificial coloring, and a tightly edited list of 20 flavors that are variations on chocolate, nuts and fruit with diverse geographic sources like Indian Alphonso mangoes, Belgian speculos biscuits and raspberries from the Northwest's Willamette Valley.
For $7.50 you can have a literal ice cream sandwich. The focaccina, which is really a powdered-sugared brioche, can be stuffed with as many cold, creamy choices as you'd like and then its edges are sealed tidily in a machine. The dark chocolate and rich, not overly sweet banana was a great duo. Combining ice cream with bread might seem a little odd at first (unless you're Singaporean and rainbow bright bread is the norm) but it's far more tooth-friendly than the thick, stiff cookies Americans favor. This portable (and substantial) sandwich solves both cookie shift and press-down ooze. Maybe not life's biggest problem, but summer is for small victories.
About the author: Krista Garcia is a freelance writer and librarian (who does not work with books). Being obsessed with chain restaurants and Southeast Asian food, she would have no problem eating laska in Elmhurst and P.F. Chang's crab rangoon in New Jersey on the same day. She blogs at Goodies First.