For the past four summers, Williamsburg chill-seekers have lined up at Ralphs 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 Gs, 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 hes not looking to butt heads with anyone, hes also confident that Louie Gs original Florentine recipe will win customers. Ralphs has a wonderful product, he says, but its more ice and colored ice and a certain thing they put in to make it tasty.
LaMarca wouldnt reveal what exactly makes his recipe more authentic (its kept under lock and key by his cousin, Dino Russo), but he did say Louie Gs uses natural ingredients, even if names like N.Y.P.D. Blue, Holi Cannoli, and Bubbly Bubble Gum dont exactly imply it. The owner of Ralphs, which also has a bubble-gum flavor (though not necessarily bubbly bubble gum), wasnt available for comment today, but LaMarca says he shouldnt worry about getting creamed. Ralphs has lines down the block I dont know why theyd be concerned.
Ironically, Ralphs isnt the first ice-cream parlor on the block. LaMarca took this location for Louie Gs because he was friends with the previous tenants, who had been selling ices and ice cream there for 28 years but found they couldnt compete when Ralphs opened. Will LaMarca avenge them? And will tensions rise as the temperatures rise? Stay tuned to Grub Street to find out!