Slideshow: Behind the Scenes at Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
My top question for Jon was "how do you get the texture so perfect?" His answer: partially it's recipe, which has been perfected over the years. But it's also how you use the machine. The colder the gelato gets, the better the texture. So taking the time to let it churn longer, slower, and get even colder while spinning results in a richer, creamier ice cream.

His #1 tip for ice cream making at home? Get it COLD. Chill you base properly, and if your ice cream maker uses a freezer bowl, chill it in the freezer extra-long at an extra-cold setting. The colder it gets while it churns, the happier (and creamier) it will be.

The flavors
The flavors
Two white boards filled with flavor names keep track of how much they have in stock of each. They made two flavors for us, starting with.....
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
...Grapefruit Campari sorbet!
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
The sorbet recipe couldn't be simpler: grapefruit juice, sugar, water, and many generous glugs of Campari.
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
Grapefruit Campari sorbet
The mixture is poured into one of the batch freezers (aka ice cream machines).
The ice cream machines
The ice cream machines
Three beautiful batch freezers, ready to churn at a moment's notice.
The batch freezer
The batch freezer
Behold, the innards of the batch freezer.
Hand-packed
Hand-packed
Every tub of ice cream is hand-packed and every lid hand-labeled.
Labor of love
Labor of love
Jon's mother not only lives in the apartment building above the ice cream lab, but she comes into work every morning to spend a couple hours helping out. Once upon a time, Jon worked in the family Carvel shop—now that he owns a premium gelato brand, his mother is the one lending a hand. "He's a boy genius", she says. "All of my sons are."
The ice cream base
The ice cream base
Every batch of gelato starts with the same pre-mixed, pasteurized base, although it is custom-made for Il Laboratorio by their dairy farmer. Like Jeni, Jon prefers to go the no-egg route: milk, cream, and a couple natural gums and stabilizers. That's it. Add flavor, churn, enjoy.
Licorice gelato
Licorice gelato
The licorice gets slowly cooked with the base until soft...
Licorice gelato
Licorice gelato
... at which point the candy gets pulverized into the base by the scariest-looking immersion blender ever.
Licorice gelato
Licorice gelato
More base is added to the licorice-flavored mixture.
Licorice gelato
Licorice gelato
After a good long churning, this beautiful stuff appears.
Licorice gelato
Licorice gelato
The world can be pretty neatly divided into licorice-lovers and licorice-haters, but the lovers go nuts for this stuff. Jon said that one of his regular customers requested he set aside a giant container's-worth for him any time a batch of this gets made.
Jon Snyder
Jon Snyder
The gelato man himself.