Last weekend we conducted phase one of our manhattan safari "in search of our favorite Gelato". Four venues were tasted, all side-by-side in some fashion.
The two baseline Gelatos tasted from each vendor were Chocolate and Hazelnut. Theory being that these flavors are "very italian" and also appear in other blends to some degree. The tasting also included the Olive Oil Gelato at Otto Enoteca.
Bussola, Roma, and Cones were tasted together... then Cones and Otto. Tasting notes follow:
CHOCOLATE: Cones: "Solid, not cloyingly sweet" Bussola: "Nice... a hint of something... like raw cocoa powder...." Otto: "(Dark Chocoalate)... prob 65-70% dark-chocolate equivalent taste... but creamy, not throat choking. Luscious texture" Caffe Roma: "...Kind of a mocha taste... weaker"
Overall "still slightly preferred the Cones taste". Rate them #1, Bussola and Otto #2 & 3, not sure what order, but both very good.
HAZELNUT: Cones: "Bits of Hazelnut... thicker texture" Bussola: "Lively... thinner texture but zesty taste" Otto (Strachiatella Hazelnut "... buts of hazelnut, chocolate... my favorite of 3 Gelatos tasted at Otto including Olive Oil" Caffe Roma: "Okay... somewhat dull"
Overall: "Even Otto hazelnut strachiatella is not as intense as Cone's pure hazelnut... Cones is not only best Hazelnut, but is the single best Gelato I tasted this whole safari"
OLIVE OIL: The Otto Enoteca Olive oil "Okay... but do I prefer it to the Cones Chocolate or Cones Hazelnut..." ?
Bottom line: Was tremendously impressed with Cones... what a selection and quality, this place is a JEWEL! Bussola and Otto are more "restaurants serving excellent Gelato"... Bussola has a separate Gelato section during the warmer months.
From my notes I scribbled "Cones and Bussola almost a tie". Will look forward to comparing Otto to Bussola but I'm sure they'll both rank excellent if a bit below our current Favorite, Cones...
Note: The Laboratorio Gelato was too melted at time of taste... will include it in next safari along with any other recommendations you may have. One poster said Il Gelatone is closed... can anyone confirm ?