I set out for the Village earlier this evening, possessing only a vague idea of a handful of chocolate and gelato places I might encounter.
Within minutes, I spotted Venchi Chocolate’s newly-opened corner store on Bleecker Street — I knew it! Old European confectionery giants and the West Village go together like Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw.*
Venchi, a chocolatier founded in 1878 in Turin, Italy, was once crowned the “Purveyor to the Royal Household,” and has opened three New York City storefronts in the last three years. The Bleecker Street store is expansive, if not slightly less extravagant than the Union Square location, which various publications have reported to have New York City’s / America’s / the world’s largest chocolate waterfall.
Venchi’s claim to bigness may be disputed by the Alaska Wild Berry Products ‘World’s Largest Chocolate Waterfall’ in Anchorage; but I’ve no stake in that fight. I'm pretty averse to inciting strife when chocolate is involved.
Or, gelato; Venchi keeps ice-cold cumulus mounds of the stuff by the cash register, and offers a variety of cone-dips including chocolate-hazelnut, double-chocolate, and a chocolate-caramel-hazelnut dip that I chose for my own large cone.
For my three scoops I chose stracciatella (chocolate-chip), banana split, and tiramisu. Based on the creamy, pleasantly-plump clouds in cold tins behind the counter, I was expecting to receive three heaping gelato spheres, perfectly piled onto each other like basketballs in a bucket. The actual scoops were, unfortunately, more amorphous and flat.
The server also warned me the cone was brittle; I can confirm her warning for future gelato-eaters, as chips of the waffle cone crackled off on my walk to an outdoor table.
But, spatula-shaped scoops and delicate cones aside, Venchi churns up some very good gelato — creamy without being too heavy, richly flavored but not too sweet. The hazelnut crisp added a touch of sophisticated European flavor, and the small chocolate disc on top of the whole creation was a delightful sample of Venchi’s overall chocolate saveur.
I give Venchi Chocolate an 8.2 out of 10; their latest shop has a fantastic location, a vibrant in-store experience and very, very solid gelato.
And honestly, who needs the world’s largest chocolate fountain when Washington Square Park is right down the block? Save the gimmicks for out-of-towners, Venchi.
Until next time.
*I have never watched 'Sex and the City' and have only a vague sense of this analogy's accuracy. Please feel free to correct / illumine me on a better New York City romantic parallel, if you have one