Instead of saving the best for last, we decided to lead off this month with dessert. And what better dessert is there than homemade fresh gelato?
In Italian, gelato means frozen. It’s made with more milk than cream, so gelato has less fat. It also has less sugar than ice cream. Less fat and less sugar means more flavor. Hence, gelato has fewer calories than ice cream.
Gelato is also churned slower and it has less air than ice cream, so it is denser. And gelato is also slightly warmer than ice cream, which makes the texture silkier and softer.
Keep all that in mind when visiting ViAle Gelateria in Lynbrook, which brings us the best of Italy. Anna Franchi, the proprietor, is in the shop every morning at 7 a.m. hand making the best gelato we have tasted this side of the Mediterranean. When we visit Italy — a regular stop for us, as you may sense from our propensity towards Italian cuisine — Jeff insists on having gelato every day. As a result, we’re often disappointed when we sample American-manufactured gelato that rarely presents the lightness and creamy texture that we enjoy in Italy.
But ViAle is the real McCoy. Ana comes to us from Ferrara, Italy, in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region, where the best food in Italy will be found (Bologna, Parma, etc.), so you would expect the best gelato and that is what you get.
Jeff’s favorite — at ViAle as well as throughout Italy — is stracciatella, a vanilla ice cream with big chunks of molten chocolate. Vera always gets the caffé, a light coffee ice cream with genuine flavor.
ViAle offers any number of rotating flavors such as Raspberry Cheesecake or Zuppa Inglese to supplement the regulars such as Limone, Vaniglia, Ciocolata, and more. The fresh-fruit-flavored and vegan gelati are also handmade.
Enter, and before you reach the display of gelato, you will find an exhibition of freshly made pastries and cakes. Anna’s custom-made specialty cakes are not only beautiful, they are outrageously delicious.
ViAle Gelateria, 424 Sunrise Hwy, Lynbrook, 516-442-0094. Open daily except Mondays.
Spring Long Island Restaurant Week runs from April 22 through 29. Since 2011, diners Islandwide have celebrated this promotion. Participating restaurants offer a special three-course prix fixe menu for just $28.95 (plus tax and gratuity).
And East End Restaurant Week runs from April 8 through 15. This promotion highlights a special three-course prix fixe for just $28.95 (plus tax and gratuity) at participating restaurants and exclusive offers at certain lodging properties, as we celebrate the beauty of the North and South Forks just before the busy season begins. eastendrestaurantweek.com.
CHEFS ON THE RUN:
Superchefs Jonathan Contes and Tate Morris, of Mosaic in St. James, are getting ready to put a facelift on their restaurant, which has been open at 418 N. Country Rd. since 2005. The renovations include adding a bar and up to three tables as they grow into the now vacant space next door. They will continue their tasting-menu-only tradition when they reopen. We look forward to visiting and enjoying the revitalized Mosaic later this spring.
With its white tablecloths, this restaurant has been a mainstay in Westbury for more than 30 years. Galleria Ristorante features quality Northern Italian cuisine.
Owner Dominick Zeljko opened the restaurant in 1981 and operated it for many years until he sold it in 2009. He reacquired it five years later and immediately renovated it by, among other things, installing a new kitchen. The restaurant has been booming ever since.
On our recent visit with friends, we devoured items on and off the menu. Although not on the menu, Jeff asked if they could make a carpaccio di manzo. And did they ever — fresh, thinly carved, raw filet mignon, served with arugula and shaved parmesan topped with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon, was just perfect!
Others tried the Spiedini alla Romano — fresh mozzarella baked in a Parmesan crust stepped up with white wine and shallots. The healthy, hearty Minestrone della Nonna is a thick vegetable soup just like “grandma” made, the perfect dish to warm you on a cold day.
Our choices for mains included the fresh, silver-skinned, whole branzino, tender veal chop and the gnocchi della casa (yes, homemade), harmonizing with a delicate veal ragu sauce.
Appetizers range from $12 to $24 and entrees are from $18.50 to $38. The wine list is reasonably priced, featuring the major Italian wine regions as well as other Old and New World wines.
Galleria Ristorante, 238 Post Ave., Westbury, 516-997-7373. galleriaristorante.com. Open daily.
Jeff Wurst is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via [email protected]