Behind the Scenes at Il Laboratorio del Gelato

[Photographs: Laura Togut]

There's no doubt that Il Laboratorio del Gelato is one of our favorite scoop shops here on Serious Eats, so whet better way to celebrate Ice Cream Month than to go behind the scenes and see how their premium gelato is made.

We caught up with Jon Snyder—founder and owner of Il Laboratorio and founder of the national gelato brand Ciao Bella (which he sold long ago)—early one Sunday morning for a demo of his small-batch ice cream making process. At the time I thought 8:30 AM was awfully early to be making ice cream, but it turns out that Jon typically starts making ice cream at 4 AM. Not only does he run a retail scoop shop on Houston Street, but he churns out hundreds of tubs of ice cream to sell wholesale to chefs all over the city.

The ice cream machines

Among the many questions I had for Jon during my visit, I couldn't help asking for his rendition of the classic "what is the difference between gelato and ice cream"? To him, gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream, and the distinction isn't truly necessary. Traditionally, however, gelato is made with less butterfat (his is), is churned slowly (his is), and served at a softer consistency (his isn't, he likes to be able to bite into it). The Italian inspiration, however, is truly what makes this "Il Laloratorio del Gelato."

Click though the slideshow to see the secrets to their smooth, perfect gelato.