While gelato and ice cream share a lot of obvious similarities—they’re both sweet, creamy and a summertime staple—they’re also different. Gelato typically uses more milk and less cream than its icy counterpart, for example, and it also tends to be denser and smoother in texture.
We could go on about the different churning processes, butterfat content and more. But all you really need to know is that this Italian-born treat is delicious, and that there are plenty of great spots to get a scoop or two here in New Jersey.
Below are some of our favorite gelaterias in the state. (And if you’re heading down the Shore, check out our roundup of iconic ice cream spots.)
Alex Saneski and Jennifer Ko’s petite Bloomfield shop features a sleek interior and a rotating menu of cheekily named and Jersey-inspired flavors (for example, ‘Left Lane is For Passing Only!’ and ‘Blabbermouth,’ a Sopranos reference to Uncle Junior). The gelato at APEM is seriously good, and the changing flavors are extremely creative—think: rainbow cookie, cornbread, Thai iced tea and honey lavender. There are tamer flavors for those who prefer the classics, as well as sorbets.
This family-run business has been serving up gelato since 1984—and if classic Italian flavors are your thing, Gelotti’s for you. Flavors include amaretto, spumoni, stracciatella, cannoli, pistachio, espresso and more; bacio, Nutella and hazelnut are some of the most popular.
Can’t commit to just gelato? Gelotti also sells many flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and Italian ices.
Montclair, Caldwell, Pine Brook
The aforementioned Gelotti is where Mike Guerriero learned the ropes of gelato making before striking out on his own to open this trio of shops.
Guerriero, who also recently acquired Mark and Julie’s Homemade Ice Cream in West Orange, has been honored in several national and international gelato competitions. At his namesake gelato shops, you’ll find many traditional Italian flavors (amaretto, espresso, Nutella and more)—but don’t miss the Blueberry Basil, which won first place at the Gelato Festival America 2019. An homage to his roots, it’s made with Jersey blueberries, lemon juice and Genovese basil.
Other award winners include Persian Paradise, with rosewater, pistachio, saffron and honey, and Jersey Cobbler, a peach gelato with raspberry jelly and pieces of a cobbler made from Biscoff cookies. You’ll also find sorbet and a line of plant-based gelatos, as well as ice cream—though Guerriero points out the ice cream, too, is made with imported Italian ingredients, and in the same machine as the gelato. (Bonus: The shop is certified kosher.)
Though located on Englewood’s main drag, Bianco Nero’s glistening gelato case and woven bistro chairs are reminiscent of a European gelateria. There are dozens of rotating flavors, ranging from the traditional to options like s’mores and cotton candy to some Middle Eastern–inspired flavors, such as halva pistachio. For vegans, Bianco Nero also makes oat- and coconut milk–based gelatos. There are sorbets, too, plus toppings galore.
And lest your canine companion feel left out, the shop also sells a line of gelato cups for dogs.
The original Il Laboratorio del Gelato, or “the gelato lab,” has been a fixture on the Lower East Side of New York City for the last 20 years. Known for handmade small batches and seasonal rotating flavors, the shop also supplies many of the city’s restaurants with gelato.
The Upper Montclair location, which opened last year, follows in the Manhattan institution’s footsteps, carrying several dozen rotating flavors of the lab’s 300-plus roster. Funky options range from ube, basil and avocado to classics like mint chip and strawberry. A Hoboken location is in the works as well, slated to open this June.
If you’re a Jersey ice cream devotee, you likely already know the legendary Nasto’s. (Even non-locals may know Nasto’s from a shoutout on The Sopranos.) Since opening in the Ironbound section of Newark in 1939, it’s been run by three generations of the Nasto family.
While you can’t get gelato scooped at the counter, there are around 20 flavors sold by the pint (perfect for stocking your freezer!). Popular flavors include pistachio, banana Nutella and honey fig.
Owners and old friends John Caiola and Miguel Paletta say they aim to transport Gelato Dolceria customers right to Italy at their two South Jersey shops. There’s a rotating menu of traditionally made gelatos, in flavors such as pistachio, salted caramel, and Nutella; cups come adorned with a crispy mini cookie. And if that garnish is not enough pastry for you, there are a variety of rotating Italian desserts, from cannoli to tiramisu. You can grab an espresso-based drink, too.
This gelato shop has the advantage of being within walking distance from the iconic Asbury Park Boardwalk. Get your scoop fix here after a beach day or all year round, reveling in flavors ranging from red velvet to butter caramel to panna cotta. Need something for a special occasion? Amici makes gorgeous gelato cakes and tartufo. There are also vegan options, plus coffee and house-made baked goods.Click here to leave a comment