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New: Forno e Gelato +39 Keeps it Classic with Traditional Gelato Flavors & Italian House-Made Desserts

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on September 28, 2022
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato

When I asked Jay Manno — the owner of Frankie Primo’s +39 and Soho Buffalo, NY — what inspired him to open the new gelato shop and bakery Forno e Gelato, he brings up Eataly.

In case you’ve never been, Eataly is a chain of massive Italian marketplaces located in New York and other major cities. Roughly speaking, it’s like an all-Italian Whole Foods set in the Broadway Market, with multiple places to eat and buy food products. Manno may not be quite ready to open a massive one-stop-shop for all things Italian food, but he suggests the new gelato shop is a step in that direction.

“While I love the Eataly concept, I don’t think Buffalo’s a big enough city to support a concept that large,” Manno says.

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Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato

Located next to the new Frankie Primo’s location on Webster Street in North Tonawanda, Forno e Gelato is currently a humble gelato shop that doubles as a satellite kitchen for both Frankie Primo’s and Soho.

“Initially, we were making all of our own desserts,” Manno explains. “My chef from Soho at the time, Ray Flor, was also making all the desserts for Frankie Primo’s — including the gelato. But it got to be just too much. So we stopped doing the gelato and we dumbed down some of the dessert offerings.”

When it came time to open a second Frankie Primo’s location in North Tonawanda, Manno revisited the idea of a full-on, house-made dessert menu for all his restaurants. The massive size of the new Frankie’s Primo’s was ultimately what drove him to acquire the space next door for a satellite kitchen.

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Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato

“That North Tonawanda location of Frankie Primo’s is big. It’s a monster,” he says. “It’s got two banquet rooms. There were several times over the summer when we had to serve 400 customers and two big weddings at the same time. To have a satellite kitchen where we could do some of the work, it certainly helped.”

Because the kitchen space has a storefront, it only makes sense to open the door for retail sales of gelato and desserts. Like Frankie Primo’s, the gelato on sale is focused on classic flavors: orange chocolate, salted caramel, pistachio, chocolate and strawberry. The shop also sells desserts that might look familiar to fans of Manno’s restaurants, such as tiramisu and chocolate peanut butter terrine. Manno said he also plans to expand offerings to include breads and other baked goods.

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Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato
Forno e Gelato / Photo courtesy of Forno e Gelato

The new shop and Frankie Primo’s location are part of the ongoing resurgence along Webster Street in North Tonawanda. If you’ve been paying attention and reading Step Out Buffalo, that probably isn’t news to you. However, even Manno says he’s surprised by just how much of a draw the area has become: “My whole family lives in North Tonawanda. I was born there. I haven’t lived there for the better part of 30-something years. So I’ve been frequenting spots in the area when I’m up that way. But I never really knew the strength of the influx of people from the surrounding suburbs. This year, I really saw a lot of people around dinner time on a Friday and Saturday night from Grand Island, East Amherst, Williamsville and Clarence.”

“There’s a lot of people walking by, coming from boats on the canal or going to the Riviera Theater. It was amazing to see. I didn’t know there was that kind of foot traffic there!”

Hours starting 10/1 (Subject to change): Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday to Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday CLOSED

Forno e Gelato +39

18 Webster Street North Tonawanda, NY 14120 • $

Ice CreamBakery

Niagara County

Fast Casual / Counter Service

Forno e Gelato offers fresh gelato and baked goods. We offer grab and go desserts daily. We also supply both locations of Frankie Primo's +39 and Soho ...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.

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