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I'm completely stumped by the fro-yo wars in NYC. It's not that the whole trend feels so retro; if something is worth reviving, by all means let's drag it back out. It's just that I thought we'd all agreed back in the '80s that frozen yogurt is—wonderful virtues aside—crashingly boring. Yeah, it's healthy, tastes fine, kills a snack attack (for a little while anyway). But it doesn't do much more than that. So if someone can illuminate why New Yorkers (besides those just in town from LA) are going nuts and standing in long lines for overpriced cups of icy yogurt topped with fruit, I'll be indebted.
Why don't we, instead, kick up the gelato wars a bit. We don't have nearly enough good outposts for this much more hysteria-worthy form of frozen dairy. Too bad Il Laboratorio del Gelato can't muscle in on some of the Pinkberry and Red Mango real estate. The frenzy around the opening of the Torino-based gelato shop Grom on the Upper West Side this summer was a little silly but frankly, it was a positive sign, and a lot more sensible than round-the-block lines for yogurt. Grom is expensive (at $4.75 a cup), but not much more so than a cup at Pinkberry ($2.90 for a small, plain, with no toppings; hardly anyone orders it this way).
I stopped by the Grom in Florence last week, where it's two euros a scoop (about $2.80). A cup of the hauntingly intense hazelnut was the best-spent two bucks of my trip. I'd like to start a campaign to bring Florence's Vestri here too—the small shop's chile-spiked-chocolate gelato is unspeakably dense and delicious, with a little Jacques Torres-esque heat. And Vestri's main competitor for the best-in-Florence title, Vivoli, has a black-currant-studded berry gelato that needs to find its way here too; it may not be as low-cal-errific as fro-yo, but it's close enough, and the intense lingering flavor kept me happy all day.