Vegan Gelato

by Rona Berg

At Lollino NYC, a small corner storefront in New York’s West Village, locals and visitors know they can find the best gelato west of Milan, where owner Lorenzo Franchetti (nicknamed Lollino) was born. 

After 13 years as an insurance broker in Italy, Franchetti moved to New York City because, “New York City is the ultimate place for acceptance and self-growth,” he says. “Here you get to nourish your passions and individualism if you truly believe in yourself,” he says. 

Once settled here, he was drawn to master the art of gelato. “I was always fond of my Italian upbringing, especially the tradition to master a craft, specifically anything to do with the culinary world,” he says. “Ever since my move, my childhood memories of cooking in the kitchen with my mother and Nonna (grandmother) resonated with me even more loudly, and that is how Lollino was born.”  

On a trip back home to Italy, Franchetti followed his calling. “I got the chance to attend one of the most highly acclaimed gelato academies, Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna,” he says. “I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most respected masters of Gelato in the world and work alongside them, fueling each other with a true passion for this culinary craft.”

Every day, at Lollino, the gelato is made fresh, because, according to Franchetti, it is supposed to be eaten on the same day it is made. “We rely heavily on the freshness of our ingredients, making it our main priority to scout out the best local vendors for our milk, cream and seasonal fruits, thus making us prone to having lots of farmer friends in the area,” he continues.  

And, on any given day, half of the flavors at Lollino are Vegan. “Most flavors speak for themselves and don’t necessarily need milk. Milk is only used to accompany certain fruits or seeds that retain fewer flavors. We spent a lot of time mastering the details of each flavor’s technique to make sure that each batch comes out with a creamy and silky texture. Our Hazelnut Sorbetto, for example, is one of our best sellers.”

When Franchetti crafts his handmade gelato (and sorbetto), he cuts the amount of sugar in half.  Some of the fruit flavors—naturally sweetened with berries, cantaloupe and pear--contain no added sugar. New flavors for summer include labne honey roasted almond and pistachio, basil, macadamia and caramel, sour cherry sorbet, fig sorbet plus whatever inspiration strikes at Lollino, on a daily basis.

“Gelato shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure, gelato should be a healthy treat for everyone,” he says. “With that in mind, we dedicate ourselves into making it our craft statement, leaving no space for anything that might compromise the quality and genuineness of the ingredients.”

Lollino is also a place to stop in for a fantastic cappuccino, along with a variety of other coffees, panini and Italian pastry. This light, bright corner shop is warm and welcoming, a little slice of Italy in NYC. Buon appetito!

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