By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Verdi Square is about to get a food vendor its namesake would be excited about.
Authentic Italian gelato bar Screme is opening a food cart at Verdi Square, named for Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, in the next week or two.
The exact date hasn't been nailed down yet, but Screme co-owner Nicole Meyers promises the wait will be worth it.
A spin-off of an Italy-based chain, Screme makes its gelatos fresh every day at a commissary in Harlem, said Meyers, an Upper West Sider who started the gelato joint with her husband, Yona Levy, in 2009.
That freshness, combined with top-quality ingredients and traditional Italian preparation methods, creates an culinary experience that's "in a different league" than traditional American ice cream, said Meyers.
"It's like a Rolls Royce compared to a regular car," Meyers said. "Once people taste it, they’re like, 'wow, this is what ice cream should be.'"
Screme's flavor line-up, which customers can track on its Twitter feed, includes mojito, chocolate whisky, Snickers bar and Sicilian hazelnut, which tastes like Ferrero Rocher candy.
Screme also sells vegan sorbets that are fat free and made with fresh fruit. Most of the gelato flavors have about a third of the fat of regular ice cream, said Meyers, because they're made with milk instead of butter fat.
The Verdi Square location, at West 72nd Street and Broadway, is Screme's third outpost. The store's other locations are at West 94th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and on Broadway between West 69th and 70th streets.
Screme signed a five-year contract with the Parks Department to operate the Verdi Square cart. The food cart, which will be removed from the park each night, will be open around 6:30 a.m. to catch morning commuters rushing into the 72nd Street subway, and close around 6:30 or 7 p.m., Meyers said.
Aside from gelato and sorbet, the menu will include organic iced tea, lattes, coffee and cappuccinos, and pastries. Gelato ranges from $5 to $9, lattes will go for $3 and iced tea will sell for $2, Meyers said.
Rolling a specialty food cart into Verdi Square, which hosts a free concert series every fall, is part of a citywide effort to bring high-end snacks into parks.
Fancy food trucks set up last fall at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. The Parks Department is now looking for a specialty food vendor for Central Park's Cherry Hill Plaza.