2374 Jericho Tpke. Garden City Park, New York 516-746-3100
The vacant former home of Garden Park Cleaners cried out to be a gelateria.
Peter Hewitson had labored for years to build an outdoor dining room adjacent to his restaurant, Uncle Bacala's Italian Seafood. When the cleaners on the other side of the patio went out of business, he realized he had the chance to really drive home the Italian piazza theme.
"Every piazza in Italy has a gelateria," he said. In October 2012, this little piazza along Jericho Turnpike got one, too.
Hewitson and his partners, Kerri Romeo (his sister) and Franco Ciaravino, originally figured they'd buy gelato from a wholesaler. But while attending a gelato class at Ronkonkoma's Gelato and Pastry Institute of America, they got bitten by the make-your-own bug. "We tasted a lot of other people's gelato," Romeo said, "and we realized that what we could make was better than what we could buy."
Ciaravino, who visits Italy at least once a year, observed that, all too often, American-made gelato lacks the creaminess and freshness of its Continental counterpart. "So we import almost all the ingredients from Italy," he said, "and serve the gelato within three days."
On any given day, Pazzo offers at least a dozen flavors. The pistachio tastes deeply of nuts; the dark chocolate is practically black; the banana-chip is forcefully banana-ish. The lemon sorbet, made exclusively by Hewitson's sister-in-law, Taryn, is both light and intense, tart and sweet.
There's plenty of parking if you want to pick up a cup ($3.50, $4.50 or $5.25), a pint ($8.95) or a quart ($15.95). Or have a seat at one of the mosaic-topped tables outside and pretend you're in an Italian piazza.
Photo: Pazzo Gelato in Garden City Park always has at least 12 flavors of gelato. (May 20, 2013)