You can now get authentic Italian gelato in Astoria — and we really do mean authentic.
A new gelato spot was opened during Labor Day Weekend by Italian Francesco D’Ambrosio, who moved to Astoria four years ago, and his five business partners in Italy, some of whom come from families who have been making gelato in Sicily for generations.
Gelato & Co. (29-02 23rd Ave., Astoria) uses these family recipes for its gelato, and a staff member even came over from Italy to teach the employees how to make the dessert.
The gelato is made fresh in the gelateria every day using all Italian ingredients, except for the milk. The equipment is from Italy, too, and D’Ambrosio said that it was the best of the best: it’s “the Ferrari of gelato machines.”
Gelato & Co. also offers high-quality coffee, espresso, gelato with coffee and hot chocolate, and starting next month, it will begin selling something that’s “quite new in the United States”: Italian gelato cake, which D’Ambrosio said is different from ice cream cake.
D’Ambrosio said he has been dreaming of opening a gelateria for 20 years, and it was important to bring his own cultural tradition to his new home here in Queens.
“I think it is important that we keep from Italy the tradition of making gelato and put it here in this store in Astoria,” he said. “That’s the most important thing for us.”
The community has been “very, very warm” so far, D’Ambrosio said. “What I really love about Astoria is the melting pot of different cultures. There is a big Italian community, a big Greek community, a lot of different communities from Europe, but I can tell you that all of the neighbors, [including] the American people who were born and raised here, are very warm.
“Everybody here loves our gelato,” he added. “We’re very excited about this.”
Astoria was the right place to open an artisanal gelateria because the neighborhood is growing very fast, D’Ambrosio said, and because there’s a great mix of families with kids and young professionals who are looking for good food.
Plus, while it’s easy to find good, authentic gelato in Manhattan and Brooklyn, D’Ambrosio realized that western Queens was lacking an artisanal gelateria.
“Our goal was to open a gelateria offering gelato that’s even better than in the city,” D’Ambrosio said.
Plus, Manhattan is full of tourists who come and go; D’Ambrosio wanted his business to become a local staple that residents return to again and again.
“We say that we are serving happiness,” he said. “We’ve seen that in the two weeks that we’ve been open: people are happy when they try our gelato.”