Astrophysicists lately reported on giant energy bubbles burgeoning from the Milky Way as well as the first photographs of antimatter, but I’ve yet to read a thing about the strange magnetic field that’s developed on St. Mark’s Place near Second Avenue. Curious passersby can experience the tremendous, supernova-like pull right around the glass storefront of brand-new Timi’s Gelateria Classica Italiana.
Though science is part of the equation, it’s probably the dazzling display of fluffy, swirly, and made-daily gelato flavors shining onto the street that’s attracting New Yorkers with a gravitational ferocity. Sitting inside and watching people stop in their tracks as they pass is one of the most entertaining aspects of eating here. The visually demanding gelato is also full of integrity: it’s locally sourced, made on premises from scratch by a robot, and ecstasy inducing. Yet calling this place just a gelateria is the year’s understatement in NYC’s new restaurants; it’s also a mozzarella bar, sleek wifi lounge, art gallery, and fantasy land of a mad culinary-scientist.
Did you get hung up when I mentioned “mozzarella bar,” or perhaps android-made ice cream? Yes, Timi’s Gelateria Classica includes a bar for soft cheese addicts like me. Try buffalo, fior di latte, smoked, and burrata varieties in tasting plates, on skewers, and atop toast. And in the back of the store lives a chubby barrel of a robot (his name: EcoDos) that meticulously measures, mixes, and freezes fresh ingredients for gelato flavors with dependably delectable results. It’s even hooked up with a direct phone line to Italy, so human gelato overseers can talk recipes with the homeland.
Part-owner Gian Luca Giovanetti (of equally avant-garde Perbacco and others) is here near-constantly, running on passion and the fruits of the Gelateria’s LavAzza cafe. He was kind enough to take the time to give my friend and me a tour, treat us to quite a few tastes, and provide a bit of background on the art and science of gelato making. Overflowing with ideas for the place, Gian Luca is often accompanied by partner-in-crime and photographer Karsten Staiger, whose exhibit NY Love Story you’ll soon be able to view (and purchase) throughout the interior. When I asked the pair about their clearly dynamic professional relationship, they looked at each other and shrugged. (The official record: expressive, playful Karsten professes, “I love you!”; the more stoic Gian Luca returns, “Hm..? Huh, me too.” They’re best friends.)
Gian Luca spoke with us from the lofted wifi lounge; from there we could overlook his store and the staff waiting on bewildered first-timers. (The upstairs space of stainless steel and cubiform decor is available for private parties and events). My friend and I sampled classic caprese with the freshest of tomatoes and cheese, a burrata (a moz ball encasing cream and more cheese) graced generously with earthy black truffle slices, and tostada topped with smoked cheese, dill, fennel, and succulent salmon.
The menu also features very healthful and tasty fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and yogurt concoctions meant to energize. On the indulgent side, crazy gelato inventions include “spaghetti & meatballs” (extruded, shaped gelato and strawberry sauce), a kid’s sized snowman, and affogati (coffee-soaked gelato with toppings), among others, impress with decadence. Affogato was the clear winner for me; the gelato is magnificently creamy—though the fat and calorie contents are far lower than American-style ice creams—and it melts supplely to blend with the hot, rich coffee.
Timi’s Gelateria Classica Italiana is part of a chain (this is the first U.S. location; others are in Italy, Romania, Mexico, and China), but the space has a homegrown feel. A complex, modular franchising system allows the gelaterias much discretion in design. Gian Luca and his partners chose to fill the space with a cubular motif, planted trees, tables made from sea salt, and furnishings from reclaimed wood.
Gelato flavors rotate and are made every day—I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll have the spicy chocolate cherry next time I visit—and each is intensely rich. Perfect for a quick treat, you can easily make a multi-course meal here: start with the fresh juices, move to savory cheese plates, and enjoy an extravagant gelato finale.
Even if you don’t set out just to visit Timi’s, with near-scientific accuracy I can predict you will feel the pull of the Gelateria Classica when you next travel this block of St. Mark’s.
Timi’s Gelateria Classica Italiana
37 St. Mark’s Place