Caffè Panna opens in Gramercy tomorrow, bringing freshly churned ice cream and affogatos from Hallie Meyer, the daughter of New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer.
Meyer’s ice cream parlor is modeled after the casual all-day cafes of Rome, where she spent a summer working at a local gelateria. It’s meant to be the kind of neighborhood spot where people pop in at all hours of the day, whether for coffee in the morning, an afternoon ice cream, or eventually drinks after work.
Meyer opens Caffè Panna at 77 Irving Place, on 19th Street, with a concise list of 10 ice cream flavors — all churned daily in the shop’s “beast” of an ice cream machine, following the same ethos as gelato parlors in Rome, Meyer says. Opening day flavors may include one with strawberry swirls and graham crunch and another made from olive oil imported from Italy, topped with apricot and ginger swirls.
Most of the scoop shop’s flavors are made from a combination of fruits and nuts, with ingredients sourced locally or directly from Italy. Five classics including vanilla and salted caramel will always be available, with specials like that olive oil flavor and others — such as the Hungry Ranger, made with chocolate ganache chunks, salted caramel, and graham brittle — appearing daily.
Coffee is also a big part of the story here. Caffè Panna translates to “coffee” and “cream,” and as such, espressos can be ordered with a dollop of fresh panna. There’s also a portion of the menu dedicated to affogato sundaes, where any ice cream flavor can be paired with coffee, cream, and other toppings. Later on, Meyer has plans to sell some pastries as well as secure a liquor license to offer wine, beer, and cocktails.
Inside the white-and-black-accented shop, there’s a separate coffee bar and ice cream counter and about 30 seats overall, including 15 stools that face Gramercy Park.
This is Meyer’s first restaurant in NYC. She first starting selling her ice cream about a year ago from a South Bronx pop-up in collaboration with empanada maker Empanology. Her creations evolved into her own ice cream brand, which she called Tripla Panna. Though her father isn’t an investor in her Gramercy shop, she says he’s one of her advisors. Caffe Panna sits down the street from his storied Union Square Cafe — and his next-door cafe Daily Provisions, which also sells Meyer-endorsed ice cream from Salt & Straw.