ROGER'S ISLAND JUICES
99A Main St., Port Jefferson, 631-474-8888
I wander into this oddball place quite by accident; the gelato counter is on one side of a juice bar that's attached to the Port Jefferson Frigate, a combination ice-cream parlor-candy shop complex. All 22 flavors are made from imported Italian flavor pastes, which are added to a milk base and made into gelato on the premises. I'm most taken with the authentic-tasting pistachio, the full-bodied gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) and the ultra-dark chocolate.
30 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-1233, santambroeus.com
This Southampton outpost of a Manhattan ristorante-gelateria may have an aura of snootiness, but there's no denying the quality of its gelato. My eyes widen at the coffee flavor, which, I learn, is done with house-brewed espresso. Fresh banana goes into the banana gelato, the end result more desirable than the fruit itself. Hazelnut (made from a prepared Italian paste) comes pretty close to what I remember from Florence and Positano. You'll pay a premium here (a pint is $14), but, hey, this is the Hamptons.
1136 Willis Ave., Albertson, 516-801-1706, bacigelato.com
Doron Ben Susan studied the art of gelato-making in his native Israel, spending time, later on, in Italy. For several years, he made and sold gelato wholesale to restaurants on Long Island and Manhattan. Now, in his bright little Albertson cafe, he cheerfully dispenses samples from rows of shallow metal trays. I am most impressed by the deep, true pistachio and banana that tasted like freshly peeled fruit. While the coffee flavor is weak and has a slight freezer taste, the strawberry is summer as frozen dessert. Ben Susan uses fresh fruit and, only when necessary, imported Italian flavor pastes. Like everyone else's pistachio, his is made with such a paste but distinguished by the fresh nuts he adds.
LEONETTI PASTRY SHOP
82 Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale, 516-625-8242 953 Franklin Ave., Garden City, 516-750-8470
Saverio and Stella Leonetti used to make gelato back in Bari, Italy. Here, on Long Island, they continue the family tradition at both their Greenvale and Garden City Italian bakeries. In Greenvale, a taciturn woman behind the counter allows me to sample a few flavors before I commit to the evocative hazelnut and nutty pistachio, both creamy and clean-tasting. Including sorbetto, the shop usually features about 24 varieties. Is it just me or does Oreo gelato seem like a sacrilege?
57 Wall St., Huntington, 631-424-0803, fiorellodolce.com
Pastry chef Gerard Fioravanti and chef-restaurateur Nino Antuzzi put their heads together to come up with recipes for the amazing gelati at this jewel-box patisserie. Currently, the stuff is being made at Red, one of the Huntington restaurants owned by Antuzzi.
Only a few flavors are offered on a given day. The über-rich caramel alone is worth a visit. So is the vanilla-based stracciatella, laced with strands of bittersweet Belgian chocolate. To the gianduja, which begins with an imported paste, freshly roasted hazelnuts are added. Fioravanti and Antuzzi also use fresh strawberries and frozen fruit purées.
You can order an affogatto (espresso float) or even an ice-cream sandwich on freshly baked brioche. Prices are surprisingly reasonable, with a pint going for only $5.25.