Francesco Realmuto, owner of L’arte del Gelato, talks about his knack for cooking the particularly tricky eggplant, beloved in Sicily, and his favorite employee memory of a couple who left their home country to create a new life here in New York City. Meet Francesco in our latest installment of Faces Behind the Food . For hours and locations of all of our vendors, see High Line Food .
Tell us about yourself and your passion for food and drink, including any fun or unusual facts that we might not know. (Any secret talents, perhaps?)
I was born in Sicily, where food is how we enjoy, share, and celebrate life. An Italian never wants to waste a meal on inferior food, so that means a big part of each day involves buying the best, freshest ingredients to cook and eat! Whether it’s a sandwich or Sunday dinner, each meal is precious. I cook, when possible, for my family as well as for my L’Arte del Gelato family in our Laboratorio. I have a talent for cooking the notoriously tricky eggplant, which is beloved in Sicily. I am happiest when I am in the kitchen cooking.
What do you love about your location on the High Line at West 16th Street?
To be on the High Line is a pleasure because it is such a beautiful and innovative park. We love our location at 16th Street because we can see the river and watch the sunset. When the line of people waiting for gelato gets long, we’re glad our customers are in the shade, too!
You interact with hundreds of customers each day. Share your favorite memory with us.
The High Line is a fun attraction for tourists and locals alike. We have seen a seemingly endless parade of visitors. When you live here in New York, you can sometimes forget what it means for visitors to vacation here—how special and exciting it is for them. One memory will always sit with me though: One night on the High Line, something cool happened during a late night shift a young Italian man and his fiancé were working. A friendly Irishman placed his order and struck up a conversation, asking what the two young Italians were doing far from home. They shared that they were both college graduates who left family and friends to come to the states for a better life. The Irishman, touched by their courage, paid with a $20, not asking for change, and replied, “Your story is what dreams are made of.”
L’arte del Gelato  is located the High Line at West 16th Street, and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily through October 18.