Travel guide Frommer’s calls gelato a “Florentine institution” and “a craft taken seriously by all.” It also labels Vivoli as “the city’s institution.” Now, after more than eight decades serving its homemade gelato in Florence, Italy, Vivoli has finally hopped the Atlantic and set up stateside.
The renowned family-run gelateria opened in March 2013 on the sixth floor of Macy’s flagship Herald Square store in New York City. The shop sits adjacent to Stella 34 Trattoria, a fine-dining operation run by Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti, a frequent visitor at Vivoli’s Florence location and a major force behind the brand’s U.S. entry.
Vivoli Il Gelato NY features a rotating list of nine gelati and three sorbetti, all made fresh daily. Many flavors overlap with Vivoli’s Florence location, including the popular Crema and Baked Bosc Pear, while the New York shop also integrates local and seasonal ingredients to produce a rich range of robust flavors.
A dedicated elevator at Broadway and 35th Street provides guests direct access to Vivoli’s modern space, one that offers views of the Empire State Building.
Third-generation gelato maker Silvana Vivoli—whose grandfather, Raffaello, opened Vivoli in 1929 and taught her the art of gelato making—discusses the shop’s U.S. debut.
Why did you decide to bring Vivoli to the U.S.?
I knew Nick Valenti for some time. He visited our Florence store often and had encouraged me on many occasions to come to the United States. Eventually I said, Why not? It’s an opportunity that was present and, though I knew it would be challenging, I was excited.
Are you adapting anything for the U.S. market?
There’s a Vivoli concept and I’m not going to change it. Some ingredients will be different, but the hazelnut and pistachio are coming directly from Italy. I would like to follow the tradition as closely as possible. We’re using a machine from Italy to make the gelato, so the process is the same, but here we’re adding U.S. ingredients.
What do you think makes Vivoli’s gelato a special treat?
In Italy, gelato is the greatest treat. It’s a daily ritual and we’re proud to be a part of that tradition. Our gelato is made fresh every day [with] fresh ingredients and no preservatives. Our sorbet is fruit, water, and sugar. That simplicity is attractive and produces a treat that has an intense flavor and creamy texture.
What are your future plans for Vivoli in the U.S.?
I would like to do my best with this first store. That’s the No. 1 goal, and then we’ll see what’s next. It’s step by step for us.