Teens. Mostly horrible—unless they're opening pop-up handmade gelato shops on the Lower East Side. Harrison Geller, a 17-year-old rising senior studying drama at prestigious LaGuardia High School, officially opened Polpo Gelato yesterday at 201 Allen Street, the site of notorious "Party Monster" Michael Alig's prison art show. Inside, he's making the gelato himself, using recipes he developed from an inspiring trip with fellow students to a farm in Umbria last year.
"The trip was basically a workshop in farm to table cooking," Geller told us. "We would harvest in the morning, cook at night. Over my time there, I became obsessed with making the best gelato I could."
The pop-up format rose from a desire to share his new passion with the world; "I wanted a relatively cheap and low commitment way to get it the the public," he explained. For now, the shop will only operate in August, opening daily at noon and closing up at 10 p.m. during the week and midnight on the weekends.
Flavors will change throughout the week, with a new flavor being subbed out every other day; there will always be eight on offer, a nod to the eight tentacles of an octopus ("polpo" means octopus in Italian). The opening menu includes a Ricotta Stracciatella using handmade cheese from Salvatore Bklyn, Tahitian Vanilla, the "Amalfi Coast" (lemon sorbet), a Sicilian Pistachio and a few more.
While lots of kids his age would be settling in for a year of Senioritis, Geller has big aspirations beyond starting college next fall. "Hopefully we will be able to do another pop up, and if we do really well, a brick and mortar shop would be the next step," he revealed. "If my college is in or close to a city such as Boston or NYC, I plan to reopen the shop in the nearby city."