Daily Scoop: Gelato and Sorbetto at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Editor's Note: July is Ice Cream Month on Serious Eats: New York! To celebrate, we're spotlighting a scoop we love every day.
When we last checked in on Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria's gelato, we said of it: "We found ourselves reminded of Meredith Kurtzmann's gelato at Otto, and that is the very highest gelato compliment we can give." But that was about it. So we were overdue for a full report.
I'll give it to you straight: this stuff is legit. Top gelato in the city? That depends on your tastes. Top 10? Definitely. Top 5? Probably.
I'd say it's less eggy and more milky than Otto's, a little more plush and fluffy than dense, and with equally powerful—if differently delivered—flavors. But it's best not to quibble. Just go here and try some ice cream, and try some more, and try some more. Plain vanilla is big and buttery and totally unlike the mild scoop you're expecting—rarely do you see such intense vanilla bean flavor tied in with such awesome dairy. Milk chocolate, chili, and lime sports a mild milk chocolate, but is really all about the interplay of lime essential oils and warm, crazy complex Calabrian chili (it's the same pepper that warms many a southern Italian dish, like the chili vinaigrette with rabbit at Perla).
Strawberry's no slouch either, and one of the best strawberry scoops I've ever had: full of the flavor of just-picked berries without an iota of iciness. Just let this soften a bit before digging in. And, of course, there's Salted Caramel, the flavor "people would riot about if we took it off the menu," according to a staffer. I'd give you my tasting notes, but it's hard to get beyond "this is awesome." Here's what I can tell you: it's one of the most complex, balanced salted caramels out there, but so clean it leaves no bitter aftertaste or wisp of cloying sweetness. There's a depth to it that just keeps going and going.
But my top pick, which might be my desert island sorbet, is the Grapefruit Campari sorbetto, pictured here in an enormous large-size to-go cup. It's bitter and tart in equal measure, with a salty-sweet blast of grapefruit more intense than any grapefruit has a right to be. "Refreshing" doesn't really describe this sorbet—"electrifying" is more like it.
If you dine in, you can get a flight of gelati and sorbetti for $12, or one flavor for $8. But the market up front also handles take-out orders ($4.36, $6.53, $11.98 for small, medium, and large—tax included).