Italian import L'Albero dei Gelati opened yesterday at 2 p.m. on Fifth Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, in the space last occupied by El Sitio Borinquen. Not only do they offer a wide selection of creative gelati, there's also an expansive menu of baked goods, focaccia and ciabatta panini, cheese and salumi, breakfast and brunch items, tea and coffee, and beer and wine. Gelato and baked goods are all made in-house from scratch, and everything sold is in line with the Slow Food movement.
The northernmost half of the space is a kitchen with a walk-up gelato stand facing the sidewalk (smart), the southern half and rear of the space have display cases and two seating areas, and there's a spacious backyard with a fully functional garden and plenty of addition seating.
It's a charmingly appointed space, with some whimsical touches, exposed brick, chalkboard walls, and children's drawings on the walls.
Gelato is all made in house from ogranic, natural, and seasonal ingredients, in traditional varieties like blueberry, raspberry, straciatella, gianduia, peach, coffee, and pistachio, as well as some more out-there styles like licorice, yellow bell pepper, and blue cheese, which is most likely the most unique gelato in the city right now. I tried it, and it's seriously blue cheesy. It's sold in traditional small, medium, large, and child sizes, as well as in treats like the affogato.
Walking up to the display case towards the back of the shop, it becomes apparent that there's a lot more than gelato here. There's homemade focaccia for sandwiches, pies and tarts like the torta Caprese, tiramisu, and cookies that are regional Italian specialities rarely seen stateside, with names like Assabese, Bacio di Dama, and Brisolona.
There's a display case full of local cheese and meats from Salumeria Biellese, and breakfast and brunch offerings including the traditional broiche tuppo pastry (in both sweet and savory applications) as well as several frittata options. There's also espresso, cappucino, scratch-made hot chocolate, wine, and beer.
The Lombardi-based mini-chain has a cult following in Italy, and owners Monia and Fabio Solighetto, a brother-and-sister-duo, have flown over to be on hand to make sure that the opening goes smoothly. The menu is about as authentically Italian as can be, even to the point that there are extensive explanations of their philosophy and descriptions of menu items atop each page. Looking over the menu, it's very clear that there's a major emphasis on fresh, seasonal, made-from-scratch food. There's even a monthly newsletter theyll be releasing to explain their history, philosophy, and newest offerings.
They'll be opening at 8 a.m. during the week and at 9 a.m during the weekends, and will be open until 11 p.m. nightly. Click through for the full menu.
L'Albero dei Gelati, 341 5th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-788-2288.