Grom: A Taste of Turin


In the shadow of Upper West Side institutions Fairway Market and Zabar's, a few blocks of Broadway have oddly emerged as a testing ground for upstart foreign specialty stores. First, there was Beard Papa's, the Japanese cream pufferie. Then came a (temporary) branch of the Japanese clothing store UNIQLO last fall. And, now comes Grom, the much buzzed about Turin-based gelato mini-chain whose opening has been eagerly awaited by the ice cream cognoscenti.

I interviewed the co-owners, Federico Grom and Guido Martinetti, on Friday, the eve of the gelato shop's weekend debut, for a magazine assignment. It turns out that I was very lucky to taste a number of flavors before the official opening, when GROM was beset with long lines of gelato-starved New Yorkers seeking free samples.

The young entrepreneurs, who first met on the soccer field as teenagers, created the gelato operation (which now numbers 12 stores) with inspiration from the Slow Food movement, and many of the ingredients Grom uses are, in fact, Slow Food-sanctioned "Presidia" items such as Sfusato lemons from Amalfi and pistachios from Bronte in Sicily.

The gelato flavors are mixed at a central plant in Italy and shipped in a nearly frozen state to the New York store, where they are whipped into the final product daily (along with any additional ingredients mixed in at the last minute in-store) -- sort of the ice cream equivalent of par-baked artisanal breads. All the sorbets are made of 50 percent fruit and 50 percent San Bernardo mineral water from the Italian Alps, and the company has acquired land where it is planting its own melons, strawberries, peaches, pears, and figs.

Interestingly, I learned that the source of fat in a number of the flavors is not eggs or butterfat from cream, but fats contributed by the primary ingredients, such as nuts or chocolate.

The extra dark chocolate tasted pretty amazing. Made with Ecuadorian chocolate, the aftertaste resembled what you would actually experience eating a piece of solid dark chocolate (not your typical chocolate ice cream). The pistachio, as brazenly brown as hazelnut rather than dubious fake green, was potent with the earthy flavor of roasted nuts. Other intriguing flavors include Cassata Siciliana, made with goat's milk ricotta and day-glo candied citrus, and a slushy seasonal Sicilian-style granita. But, one of the best might be the shop's signature Crema di Grom, studded with bits of dark chocolate and crumbled biscuits baked in Piedmont.

Grom, 2165 Broadway (646.290.7233).



It's so GOOD!!


Sounds great. However, you seem to be making Broadway in the seventies and eighties way more fashionable than it is. Remember, next to that Uniqlo is a Best Buy Phone Store. And I won't even talk about Yolato :( . And, as you said, that Uniqlo is going as soon as their store in a more fashionable address is ready. But we'll always have Zabar's and Fairway (and even Citarella)



What I meant to say was that I thought it was surprising that these businesses have all choosing to open in the upper 70s, which, as you point out, is not uber-trendy. Interesting phenomenon.


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