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Keste or Motorino for special dinner (Grom for Gelato)

My wife is Italian (from Florence) and has not been home in about 2 years. While we are scheduled to go back this summer, She's been homesick for pizza and gelato. Our anniversary is coming up later this month and I want to try at least to satisfy her cravings till summer. I was thinking that either of these two would be at least close enough. What's you opinion? Any other suggestions for Gelato ? or even pizza?

Don't suggest Labrotorio d' Gelato - Would never ever return , sure he let my wife try one flavor. After filling the cup, he precisely removed the equivalent of the taste he had given her.

Even though it's our anniversary, athmosphere isn't important it's all about the chow.

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  1. I prefer L'Arte over Grom for gelato. They are close enough that you can do a comparison.

    Keste is more convient to both gelato places, but Motorino's pizza has the edge in my book. If you like a softer more Naples-style crust, ask Motorino to make it less well done. My Italian friends like Keste better though.

    No. 28 on Carmine is also good for pizza and usually less crowded than Keste or Motorino, but not quite up to their level.

    1. I never tried Keste. But I liked motorino, especially their brussel sprout pizza.
      I tried a couple of gelato places (Grom, L'Arte, Lab, etc) and my favorite place in manhattan is Bruno's Bakery. I highly recommend it, especially if you're in the west village. My favorite flavor there was the Cannolo. I also think it's a nice place to sit down and have coffee and desserts after your pizza, especially since it is your anniversary. I know you don't care much about atmosphere, but this is also one of my favorite places to bring a date.

      2 Replies
      1. re: daffyduck

        I used to go to Bruno all the time when they had a branch on Bleecker and thought the gelato was really good (that was before L'Arte and Grom arrived). The fact that you could sit down and have coffee and other desserts was a big plus. Somehow I don't think to walk a few blocks over to La Guardia Place to go to Bruno these days. But I think that is an excellent suggestion for a nice place to top off a dinner.

        I really love Otto's gelato as well. Would be great if they opened a dedicated gelato spot.

        1. re: daffyduck

          Hmmm...My girlfriend and I thought their gelato was merely good and by no means great when we had some last summer. Different strokes for different folks, etc.

        2. The pizza at Keste is better than Motorino or 28 Carmine. And it's a sweet place with sweet service.

          Grom is okay, nothing to write home about. Go to Otto on 8th St/5th /Ave for dessert - best gelato in NYC by far. And a very good selection of amari.

          1. I love Keste! I've never been to Motorino, though, so can't comment on that. Keste is literally a minute from Grom though, so that's a plus. I lived in Italy for five months and I think Keste is as good as, or better than, most of the pizza I had in Florence or Rome. As for Grom, I was obsessed with it when I was in Florence and went a few times a week. I'm in grad school now, though, and just don't have the money to pay 6-8 bucks for gelato, even though if it's half as good as it was in Florence, it would be worth it.

            Speaking of Florence, are there any places in town that have Tuscany-style bread (i.e., no salt)? I LOVED that about Florence and just can't seem to find any place outside of there that has that kind of bread (we Americans enjoy our sodium, I suppose!).

            15 Replies
            1. re: Jess321

              Hey Jess321
              Speaking of Florence, going this summer. Know this is the NYC board but any quick recommendations for when we go?

              1. re: breezey

                Acqua al Due-get the blueberry steak!!! They also have some version of a tasting menu with multiple salads, pastas, and desserts, all of which are incredible. Can't really remember where it was but it was NEAR a street called Aqua something, they have a website though. Also, there's a great (and cheap!) sandwich shop near Piazza Olympia (I think? It's been a few years..), its called Gusto Panini and it is AWESOME!

                1. re: Jess321

                  Otto is a 5 minute walk from Keste. And it's worth it.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    keste and motorino blow otto out of the water...

                    1. re: smokeandapancake

                      im pretty sure gutsofsteel was suggesting otto just for gelato\dessert, not for pizza.

                      1. re: smokeandapancake

                        I know you are recommending it for gelato. I've heard Otto's pizza is overrated from many of the board. Is this true?

                        1. re: steakrules85

                          I found it to be so not worth the calories or wait or price, at least compared to any of the other pizza places I've eaten at in the city. But it's a different style than the others that I normally go to, anyway. It's more of a thin crust, but something about it just tasted off, like it was sour or something. It's definitely a fun atmosphere and I did enjoy the tapas-style veggie things I had. I recall an eggplant dish and some brussel sprouts that were good. But I wouldn't go there if you were looking for great pizza, especially with so many great places (like Keste or Arturo's) so close by!

                          1. re: steakrules85

                            It's grilled and while not the best in town, it can be good if you order carefully (the menu is pretty uneven). I like the lardo. But the style is quite different from other places.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Hmmm when I think grilled I think flatbread and that does not really sit well with me. I am a big Batali fan and have wanted to try it. Their menu looks intriguing, especially with antipasti and pastas and well of course the gelato.

                              I am thinking the best plan of action may be to go to Keste and then come to Otto for gelato. I am guessing they have no problem with people just popping in for dessert and skipping dinner??

                              1. re: steakrules85

                                You can order gelato at the bar area.

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  they also have to go cups if u want to stop by and just get gelato to go. they only have one size though 3 scoops for 7.50 plus tax.
                                  i was in the same situation a little while back and wanted to try otto mainly for their gelato. i decided to stop in one day for appetizers\salami, pasta, and desserts. The most memorable thing to me were the veggies (especially brussel sprouts) and I am a dessert guy. So I think u should try Otto one of these days. But if you are set on pizza then you probably shouldn't do Otto.
                                  btw i don't know if this will help but the gelatos I've tried were vanilla, cream cheese, creme fraiche, guiness stout, olive oil, caramel, and whatever is in the black and white which I believe is milk chocolate.
                                  my favorite 3 i believe were cream cheese, milk chocolate, and vanilla in that order. I thought the desserts that I tried with the best flavors was the brioche pudding but they give u such a pussy scoop of vanilla. Some of the flavors from the brioche pudding is a bit strong and there's not enough gelato to smooth it out. So if you do order gelato at the bar and have someone with you or have the stomach for it I think you should also get the brioche pudding. If not the black and white is also delicious and I think there are two gelato flavors in there. I'm not sure though if you can get desserts to go.

                              2. re: steakrules85

                                Yeah, I didn't care for Otto's pizza. Their copetta however is fantastic!

                          2. re: Jess321

                            The rest of Italy enjoys there sodium too. I haven't seen any Tuscan style bread in NY though there might be some

                          3. Keste and Motorino are both really good but for my money I prefer Motorino. The dough at Motorino has a magic to it that Keste doesn't quite match, and Motorino gets more char which I prefer.

                            But as other's have pointed out, you're in much better shape for Gelato at Keste. That said, I think the $7 Grom charges for a modest serving is unconscionable. If their gelato was superb I'd be willing to splurge on it once in a while, but it's not so I don't give them my business. I like L'Arte, especially the pistachio. If you're up for a longer walk the Otto suggestion is a great one. That's gelato I'd pay a high price for.

                            Also, both Keste and Motorino serve Menabrea lager. Good way to wash down your pizza.

                            So in sum, the best overall eating is Motorino and Otto. But Keste and L'Arte are a convenient pairing that are both really good.

                            1. I agree with others here that while Motorino may make a better pie (to our NY tastebuds!), Keste is much more authentically Neapolitan. Plus they have Italian waitstaff. I think if you're trying to cure a homesick Italian, Keste is definitely the way to go, plus its so much more convenient to good gelato.

                              You really can't go too far wrong with either though, both are delicious, and I've had excellent service at both.

                              1. I've never ate at Otto (plan to soon) nor Keste, but this is what I would recommend.
                                Since it's winter most gelato places aren't crowded. Why don't you go to Grom, L'arte, and Bruno to sample some of their gelatos. You can even tell them you're trying to find the gelato that tastes closest to Florence. From my experience the workers at all these places are pretty nice. If you feel bad about sampling you can always tip them. And like I said before it's still cold so it won't be too crowded. At bruno you can even pick up a petite four or a small pastry for your wife. I've never been to Italy but some of their desserts maybe authentic. You should proably ask. After all of this why don't you try walking over to Otto and sit at the bar for a gelato sampler. Then see which you like best. I've never been to Keste before but it might be possible to stop in there and get a small gelato to go.
                                anyways best of luck and congrats on your anniversary

                                1. Otto's gelato is great but to my tastebuds it has a lot of butterfat, enough that I wonder if it's still considered gelato. Meredith Kurtzman, who studied gelato in Italy, does the desserts there.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    It is very most definitely gelato. And it is superb. Meredith is brilliant at what she does, and makes gelato like an old master.

                                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                                      What is the butterfat percentage in Otto's gelato? Is it close to ice cream's (at least 10% butterfat in the U.S. according to the FDA)?

                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                          OK. The way you said "It is very most definitely gelato" made it sound like you knew precisely.

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            I have talked to her about it, which is why I know it's gelato. But the precise fat percentage...I don't know.

                                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                                              Hello there,it's Meredith...The term gelato can mean any frozen ,aerated ice cream,in Italian....as far as I know there is no official 'gelato board' that defines butterfat limits for gelato in the U.S.There is a lot of discrepancy in what the butterfat content should be.When I learned gelato making in Italy,I was given 12%-22% as the window.I stay within that window and I make what I make;love it or don't....

                                              1. re: geendatz

                                                Love it!!!

                                                Thanks for the info Meredith.

                                  2. First I want to thank everyone for the great responses. I think for this time, we'll do Keste and start with L'Arte Gelato (I did not know they were so close!) move on to Grom (if she wants more or just keep walking to Otto or Bruno for a more relaxing wrap up if she is so inclined) Our outing is at the end of the month (we have 2 small children, so things need to get planned far in advance!-No they are not coming) I'l post a post-meal rundown.

                                    1. I prefer Keste, but I'd say it's almost a photo finish. They both get very crowded, so if you want to linger, and don't want too wait long for a table, I'd plan ahead as to what time to go.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: hungrycomposer

                                        Would it be better to get there right when it opens for dinner? or will there be a line waiting to get in on a Saturday at 5pm, any suggestions?

                                        1. re: MrPhil

                                          I'm not sure that Motorino closes in the afternoon. Lunch is 12-4 and I've never seen it very crowded. I see crowds on weekend nights, but I'm guessing others know more specifics about when is the best time to go.

                                          1. re: hungrycomposer

                                            motorino also has an amazing lunch special: $12 for any pizza plus a salad or soft serve.

                                          2. re: MrPhil

                                            I think Keste is open all day, so it's hard to say. There could be a line at 5pm, but I bet it won't be as bad as it is at peak times. Grom is the one that is so close to Keste.

                                            1. re: MrPhil

                                              I live around the corner from Keste and have walked past many a queue. The serious lines (shivering huddles) usually form later but I'd recommend getting there when it opens if it's a cold night. There isn't room to wait inside and the doorway is small so most people spill out into the street, which being Bleecker is busy. It's good for people watching, but not at this time of year - brr. There are never touristy lines like John's across the street so the wait isn't hideous if you get there before 8.

                                              L'Arte are friendly with samples. Not all the flavors are great, so sample away.

                                              1. re: MrPhil

                                                I'm guessing there wouldn't be a line at 5 o'clock, but if you go then, please report back and tell us.

                                                So far, even when I've shown up at 7:30 or so, I haven't had to wait more than 10 minutes or so for a table. Maybe I've been lucky.

                                            2. Went to Keste at 7:00 last Saturday (a little on the early side). We were told the wait would be 20 minutes. We killed 15 browsing in Murray's across the street and our table was ready when we came back. It was very cold out that night so that might have dampened the crowds.

                                              1. I thought Grom was overpriced and not worth it. Try D'Arte.

                                                1. Just want to thank everyone for their great responses. We went last week and had a wonderful time. Wife had the Margherita and enjoyed it , I had the Rey and it was good (espcially the cheese) but it was very soggy in the center, I took it slowly hoping it would "firm up" to no avail.

                                                  L'art was great! Italian staff was a plus. Generous with the tastes and an interesting mix of flavors. I'm not going to Grom again (as mentioned high prices, stingy portions)

                                                  All and all a fantastic time. BTW Keste is closed for a short period of time in the afternoon (think it was 3:30 to 5pm) Based on all this we are planning to make this a standing "date" at least once every few months. Of course once we get to Italy and she gets her fill over the month of August she might change her mind.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: MrPhil

                                                    glad u had a great evening. when i made my recommendations it was before I tried Otto's gelato, but I still think Bruno's is better though I've only tried them once. if she is ever in the mood for desserts and gelato i think bruno is a nice place to stop by.

                                                    1. re: MrPhil

                                                      Why don't you try Motorino next time and write a comparison? Motorino is great for a weekday lunch, less crowded and a very affordable lunch special.