For the past four summers, Williamsburg chill-seekers have lined up at Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices, the offshoot of a chain started in 1928 by Italian immigrant Ralph Silvestro. But last week, in a move nothing short of ice cold, another eccentric and expanding ice empire, Uncle Louie G’s, opened on the same block at 341 Graham Avenue. The operators of the new store, brothers Michael, Daniel, and Stephen LaMarca, are an amicable bunch, and while Michael tells us he’s “not looking to butt heads with anyone,” he’s also confident that Louie G’s “original Florentine recipe” will win customers. “Ralph’s has a wonderful product,” he says, “but it’s more ice and colored ice and a certain thing they put in to make it tasty.”
LaMarca wouldn’t reveal what exactly makes his recipe more authentic (it’s kept under lock and key by his cousin, Dino Russo), but he did say Louie G’s uses natural ingredients, even if names like N.Y.P.D. Blue, Holi Cannoli, and Bubbly Bubble Gum don’t exactly imply it. The owner of Ralph’s, which also has a bubble-gum flavor (though not necessarily bubbly bubble gum), wasn’t available for comment today, but LaMarca says he shouldn’t worry about getting creamed. “Ralph’s has lines down the block — I don’t know why they’d be concerned.”
Ironically, Ralph’s isn’t the first ice-cream parlor on the block. LaMarca took this location for Louie G’s because he was friends with the previous tenants, who had been selling ices and ice cream there for 28 years but found they couldn’t compete when Ralph’s opened. Will LaMarca avenge them? And will tensions rise as the temperatures rise? Stay tuned to Grub Street to find out!