Giovanni Di Palma’s gelateria to open in late May

Limoncello bar scheduled to follow one month later
Conan O'Brien and Giovanni Di Palma, shortly after O'Brien served Di Palma's gelato at Antico Pizza

Antico Pizza Napoletana and Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano founder Giovanni Di Palma has confirmed that a gelateria will be the next business to open in his planned Piazza San Gennaro, a two-block area near Hemphill Avenue in West Midtown. He says the gelato shop, on which he is working with the folks at Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream, will open in the next 40 days. Di Palma’s limoncello bar will open about a month later.

About the gelateria:
“Morelli was trained in Italy. His wife is half Italian. All of their machines are gelato machines,” Di Palma explains.

Di Palma says the gelateria will serve classic Italian flavors, like chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, hazelnut, and stracciatella. It will also serve caramel sea salt gelato and perhaps some specialty flavors like blood orange or fig, depending on what’s in season. There will only be one size available, and all flavors will be served as a “concoction” like one would see in a display case, such as topped with a homemade cookie, a piece or chocolate and/or a dollop of whipped cream.

Conan O’Brien actually got to sample the first batch of the gelato—and serve it to about 100 people who happened to be eating at Antico when he was in town in early April. Di Palma swears he raved about it.

As for the design of the gelateria, Di Palma says it will be set up like an Italian sweet shop with counter service. It’ll serve gelato and pastries (cannoli, zeppole, biscotti, baba au rhum cake, and more), as well as cappuccinos. It will be located in an old house and focus on a “warm and cozy” yet “sporty” feel with rustic beams in the ceilings, communal bar tables, and outdoor seating. Di Palma says in Italy, people come to gelaterias to watch football [i.e., soccer], so his gelateria will be sure to have TVs.

About the bar:
A month or so after the gelateria launches, Di Palma’s limoncello bar will open. Formerly publicized as Bar Antico, the limoncello bar will simply be referred to as the Piazza San Gennaro bar. It will be outside and as such, open seasonally. This open-air bar with an “Italian seaside feel” will serve four or five flavors of limoncello, which Di Palma describes as “an infusion of the largest, most fragrant lemons in the world (from the Amalfi Coast) with simple syrup, enjoyed ice cold.” Di Palma says he will import the lemons directly from Italy at harvest, twice a year. He will then spend the next 30 days making limoncello in flavors like orange, fig, walnut, and basil. These cocktails will be served alongside Peroni, bellinis and prosecco, as well as antipasti such as bruschetta, prosciutto-wrapped melon, caprese salad, and charcuterie.

The bar will offer table service outside and on the terrace. Di Palma says to expect colorful Italian umbrellas, potted palms, and perhaps some olive trees. He estimates the bar will be open until midnight on weekends.

A word on the parking:
With rapid expansion often comes concern about parking, especially in Midtown. Di Palma doesn’t hesitate to point out that his property now offers 100 parking spaces, plus neighborhood street-side spots. In addition, he’s working to secure two additional parking lots near 14th Street, which will offer 120 more spots.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day—what’s the rush?” Di Palma says, adding that he’s planning some “really fun stuff” with Antico that he can’t quite divulge yet.