You can find a few gelato makers in Nolita, but none that'll have you racing back. That is, at least compared to what you'll find nearby on the Lower East Side, East Village, or West Village at places like Il Laboratio del Gelato, Dolce Gelateria, or Il Buco Alimentari. Well, no longer. Enter A. B. Biagi, a cute new shop on Elizabeth street that's doing some pretty impressive stuff.
The ice cream, which is made on-site in a tiny kitchen in the back of the scoop shop, comes in classic flavors like pistachio and straciatella, but also less conventional spins like goat cheese-orange-and anise, acai berry, or white chocolate-bergamot. They're all buttery and rich but still very clean—leaner than L'Arte's super-creamy gelato but denser than Il Laboratorio or Il Buco. You can stretch this gelato a little, and if you order a large with three scoops sidled up next to each other, it'll slump gently without falling down.
The nutty flavors speak to me most, such as an incredibly rich hazelnut that tasted like little beyond pure hazelnut paste. I think the best pistachio ice cream has a juicy undercurrent with all the roastiness, and A. B. Biagi's meets that mark. It is also an olive drab, not dyed-bright green, a good sign indeed.
I've been looking for the perfect scoop of bergamot for some time, and this sorbet may be my favorite. Tart but not too citrusy, full of bergamot oil, and completely clean. Why can't all sorbet be this good?
Prices here are high. [Update: The shop recently lowered its prices. Updated figures reflected here] A one-flavor small (they don't do half scoops with two flavors) runs you $4.75, a medium $6.50, and a princely large $8.25. Compare that to a $4 small at Il Buco or a $4.50 small at L'Arte. A. B. Biagi isn't as pricey as Grom, but it's up there.
It's way too early on to call this ice cream shop a Best Of or anything like that, so I'll leave this way: I can't wait to go back.