Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Frozen Dessert Retailers in America for 2013.
Dessert Professional magazine is proud to honor the Top Ten Frozen Dessert Retailers of America 2013. This award is presented to businesses that offer exceptional frozen desserts served in a unique, memorable environment, including walk-in shops, stands, and even trucks. The enjoyment of a frozen dessert, whether it’s ice cream, gelato, frozen pops or custard, is a special experience that involves more than just the product. Frozen desserts are best eaten when they are served, so the shop’s ambiance and service are almost as important as the product itself. We have taken this into account in choosing our list of ten. Congratulations to this year’s Top Ten retailers. Following are profiles of each of this year’s Top Ten Frozen Dessert Retailers.
- Bi-Rite Creamery
- Capri Homemade Italian Ice
- Nicoletta Pizzeria
- Glacé Artisan Ice Cream
- Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt
- Shake Shack
- Vivoli Il Gelato
- Zarlengo's Italian Ice & Gelato
- McConnell's Fine Ice Creams
Owner: Xavier Briseno1025 Prospect St., San Diego CA 92037
Also has locations in La Jolla, Arcadia & West Covina, CA858-566-4298
UPDATE: This business has closed.
Business Profile: Bardot, created to bring ice cream to a new level, is the combination of great flavor and texture [of our bars] with great design and branding. Bardot is about emotions and a way of living. Bardot is to embrace love and happiness in harmony with delicious treats. Bardot has 18 unique ice cream bars, all covered with 68% Belgium chocolate. The flavors and combinations have been chosen to maximize pleasure. You can see the different layers of ice cream in each of our bars – they are all carefully hand crafted.
How it all began: I started making gelato 14 years ago, in Mexico City, where I built a chain of 25 gelato stores called Neve Gelato.
What you're trying to do differently: Linking emotions and sensuality to ice cream, in an elegant way. People have said that we are the Guccis of ice cream.
Number of flavors: 18 different bars.
Most popular flavors: Honey I’m Home (cookies and cream); Ying Yang (yogurt and passion fruit); and Heart of Darkness (three types of chocolate).
Favorite ingredients: Everything that is natural – we use a lot of fresh fruits, mango, wild berries, passion fruit. Also dried fruits and nuts such as pistachios and almonds. And chocolate, of course.
Favorite flavor to eat: I sincerely love them all – the one I choose really depends on the situation, like the weather, time of day or season.
Favorite flavor to serve: We love serving every single customer, all flavors. Each bar has its own personality. And I love the reaction of our customers when they look at them and better yet, when they enjoy them and realize the taste as good as they look.
How often do you change flavors? We do seasonal flavors for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines, etc.
Offbeat flavor: White chocolate with pink peppermint.
How much product do you eat per week? Two bars.
Display case: Ciam, Isa
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: We have had many, but the one I love the most is when a girl wrote an essay for a school assignment saying that going to Bardot made her vacation to San Diego memorable. Her mom sent me the letter – it was a very nice and sincere compliment.
Best part of the business: Working with ice cream!
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? Making chocolates.
Motto: At Bardot we don’t sell ice cream, we sell “Love on a Stick.”
What's next? Keep working hard, and making the best ice cream and ice cream bars.
Owners: Anne Walker, Kris Hoogerhyde, Sam Mogannam and Calvin Tsay3692 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94110415-626-5600 • www.biritecreamery.com
Business Profile: At Bi-Rite Creamery we make ice cream, soft-serve and baked goods by hand in small batches. We strive to create unique and delicious flavors with local, handmade and organic ingredients in a responsible and sustainable way. Bi- Rite Creamery is a member of the Bi-Rite Family of Businesses.
How it all began: As two longtime San Francisco pastry chefs, we (Anne Walker and Kris Hoogerhyde) started baking for Bi-Rite Market in 2002 in a rented kitchen, packing up the goods and driving them to the store every day. When an empty space across the street from the Market opened up, we jumped on it! When we opened in 2006 we wanted to provide something for the neighborhood that didn’t already exist, so in addition to baked goods, we created ice cream recipes from scratch.
What you're trying to do differently: We were proud to be the first ice cream shop in San Francisco to use Straus Family Creamery organic dairy, the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi; only 45 miles away, they supply all of the organic milk and cream for our ice cream and soft serve. Our flavors rarely have more than five ingredients, no stabilizers, and nothing artificial. In the bakery adjoining our ice cream kitchen we make everything that goes into our ice cream, whether it’s brownies, peanut brittle, or the snickerdoodles for Ricanelas. Our Coffee Toffee ice cream is made with coffee from Ritual Coffee Roasters a few blocks away, and almond toffee that we make here in our shop. Our Honey Lavender is created with organic dried lavender and honey harvested from our Sonoma farms and sometimes our own rooftop hives. Our Rocky Road is made with house made marshmallows and house made chocolate-covered almonds. Our Roasted Banana is created by roasting organic bananas with brown sugar until tender and caramelized.
Number of flavors: 16-18 with one or two seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the year, from Balsamic Strawberry in spring to Pumpkin around the holidays
Most popular flavors: Salted Caramel, Honey Lavender, Ricaneles (cinnamon with snicker doodle), Toasted Coconut, Roasted Banana.
Favorite ingredients: Straus Family Creamery dairy, produce we source directly from Bay Area farms (the same farms whose fruits and veggies we sell at Bi-Rite Market), honey we harvest from the hives on our rooftop, Concord Grapes we grow on our own Sonoma Farm (and turn into popsicles).
Favorite flavor to eat: Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate Pieces is Anne’s favorite, Ricaneles is Kris’s favorite.
Favorite flavor to serve: Salted Caramel, because many of our guests have never had it before and are blown away by how delicious the sweet-salty balance can be.
How often do you change flavors? 10 or more times throughout the year, depending on what’s in season!
Most unusual flavor: Kris once made a smoked salmon ice cream for a show on the Fishing Channel. Let’s just say it was not a flavor we would put in the ice cream case!
How much product do you eat per week? A few licks to taste flavors we’re trying out.
Signature Product: Salted Caramel ice cream, ice cream sandwiches made with our homebaked cookies, Sam’s Sundae (chocolate ice cream with bergamot olive oil, maldon sea salt and whipped cream), challah, stone fruit galettes in the summer, pumpkin and apple pies around the holidays.
Display case: Oscartielle.
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: We have more yelp reviews than any business in the world! That and the line for ice cream on sunny days makes us feel appreciated.
Best part of the business: look on our guests’ faces when they taste ice cream that reminds them of their childhood.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? We’d open a bar—we love a good cocktail!
Ice cream philosophy: Early on, we became obsessed with making the most intensely flavored ice cream possible; we felt that all too often, ice cream didn’t taste enough of whatever it was supposed to be. We believed that lemon ice cream should be really lemony, butter pecan should taste like butter and pecans, and chocolate should be intensely chocolatey.
What's next? We just opened a second scoop shop, inside Bi-Rite Market on Divisadero Street in San Francisco’s Western Addition, so we’re focused on making sure the operation there is running smoothly!
Owner: Harry Davis238 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, PA610-386-1999 • Capri on Facebook®
Business Profile: We are what most would describe as a “Mom and Pop” shop located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Main Line. We are much more than that, however. We offer gourmet Italian ice. Our customers order three-gallon tubs in advance for everything from private upscale parties, to weddings to Little League games. As with any good business, our customers always come first, not just when it comes to our service, but as it relates to our product, as well. We are constantly developing flavors to cater to our customers changing tastes and are also open to their suggestions.
How it all began: You could say I was in the right place at the right time. After 25 years as a police officer, I was coming up on my retirement and looking for a complete change of pace in my second career. The opportunity to purchase the business came along at the same time and I jumped on it and never looked back.
What you're trying to do differently: We do not subscribe to a fast food model like some others in our industry. We do not have a walk-up or drive-thru window and believe this is how it should be. In order to try our product, customers must step inside our store and experience it. We believe the experience is a large part of what keeps them coming back. We encourage them to sample as many flavors as they would like, so that they can find the flavor that is right for them.
Number of flavors: We have over 60 flavors in our recipe book and are always testing and developing new flavors. We carry 20 daily.
Most popular flavors: Mango, Cherry Bordeaux and Frappachino have always been very popular. In the past two years, Birthday Cake has also taken off to become a top seller.
Favorite ingredients: We use natural ingredients whenever we can. I enjoy adding real fruit pieces and juice – Bordeaux cherries, Maraschino cherries, lemon zest and natural lime juice.
Favorite flavor to eat: I like them all! The weather really affects what I am in the mood for, though. Everything from lemon (refreshing on a hot day) to frappachino (on a more mild day).
Favorite flavor to serve: Cherry Bordeaux
How often do you change flavors? Daily. We have a core of 12 to 15 flavors that are almost always in stock. We will rotate the other five flavors based on the time of year or what we might be trying out that week. We have expanded our selection of cream ices over the past year. (Cream ices have added dairy for texture and flavor.) We have offered a number of cheesecake variations including cherry cheesecake, chocolate chip cheesecake and surprisingly the most popular of our cheesecake flavors – Black Raspberry Cheesecake.
Signature products: Cherry Bordeaux is our signature flavor in that you will not find it at our competitors. Other establishments offer cherry, of course, and even cherry with real Bordeaux cherry halves, but they cannot duplicate the flavor and texture of Cherry Bordeaux.
How much product do you eat per week? At least one every day.
Display case: Kelvinator
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: People often compliment us on the texture of our Italian ice. We appreciate this because texture is something we work hard to perfect. We formulate different textures for each flavor because of the profound effect texture has on the sense of taste. We also take into consideration the effect of temperature on the sense of taste. We want our product to hit the tongue with a burst of flavor that increases as the product melts.
Best part of the business: Watching customers grow up right before our eyes.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? I would likely still be working in law enforcement.
Work philosophy: I try to have fun every day. This is a fun and exciting business to be in and if you bring that attitude every day, the rest has a way of working itself out.
What's next? We hope to expand the business in the next few years with another store front location as well as a wholesale division. We would like to be able to offer some of our gourmet flavors as dessert options to local restaurant and catering accounts.
Owner: Altamarea Group160 2nd Avenue, New York, NY212-432-1600 • www.nicolettanyc.com
Business Profile: Altamarea Group & Chef Michael White’s first pizzeria in the East Village. In addition to pizza, Nicoletta’s cremeria features Italian soft-serve custard, or fior di latte, with an irresistible selection of toppings to choose from, including warmed Nutella, crushed torrone, blueberry limoncello sauce, and chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Number of flavors: one flavor with 10 different toppings
Most popular flavors: Salted Caramel, Blueberry Limoncello, Rosemary Caramel Popcorn, Pistachio Brittle
Favorite ingredients: strawberry marmalade, pistachio and vanilla bean.
How often do you change flavors? Seasonally – pumpkin pie is delicious in October and gingerbread crumbles for the holiday season!
Offbeat flavor: Gelato with French fries, chocolate sauce and rainbow sprinkles.
How much product do you eat per week? A few tastes here and there.
Signature prodcuts: Soft serve gelato/custard
Best compliment you've ever received about your gelato: "Best I’ve ever had!”
Best part of the business: Making people happy and having guests come to a pizza restaurant just for the gelato!
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing?
Gelato philosophy: Start simple and top with lots of variety.
What's next? A gelato shop?
Owner: Christopher Elbow4960 Main Street Kansas City, MO 64108816-561-1117 • www.glaceicecream.com
Business Profile: We produce small batch, high quality ice creams and ice cream products (bars/sandwiches). We employ the use of local cream/milk and all natural ingredients to create a fresh and really decadent custard based style of ice cream (lots of egg yolks)! We don’t use any extracts or artificial flavors. Ice cream is one of the best vehicles to showcase other flavors so we really work hard to bring out the best flavor if the ingredients.
How it all began: It stemmed from the chocolate shop being slow in the summertime due to the heat and lack of holidays. We started making ice cream one summer, mimicking a lot of the flavor combinations we do in our chocolates (rosemary caramel, strawberry balsamic, spiced chocolate, etc). We just sold pints on the weekends and we sold out every weekend. So the following summer we opened up a new concept that focused only on the ice cream and sorbet.
What you're trying to do differently: From the beginning I set out to create an ice cream that to me reminds me of the texture and mouth feel of homemade ice cream that I remember from my childhood, but putting our unique flavor combinations and ingredients.
Number of flavors: 24
Most popular flavors: Salted Pretzel, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Strawberry Balsamic, Goat Cheese with Honey, Pineapple- Cilantro Sorbet.
Favorite ingredients: Fresh herbs and cheese, such as goat cheese and ricotta cheese. When the herbs are in season, infusing them into ice cream and sorbet is a great way to showcase their flavor.
Favorite flavor to eat: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but in the summer when it is in season, it is the Farmer Bob’s Sweet Corn. In the winter I love to eat the Roasted Butternut Squash and Brown Sugar.
Favorite flavor to serve: Any of our more challenging flavor combinations. A lot of times customers are reluctant to try them, but we don’t do anything that doesn’t taste good, so once they try it, they end up liking it! This happens quite often with our Thai Peanut Curry.
How often do you change flavors? We do at least one new flavor a week and then major flavor changes based around the seasons. For example, once strawberries are out of season, we don’t make that flavor any more. It seems weird to me to eat strawberry ice cream in the winter!
Offbeat flavor: Probably Spicy Bloody Mary Sorbet. It was really tasty and we did serve it to customers, but I don’t think anyone bought any, we just sampled it out. (A couple scoops of that with a shot of vodka over it was delicious!)
How much product do you eat per week? I actually eat a lot less than people think. Between the chocolates and the ice cream, I have to be very careful how much I eat. It is easy to get carried away. I try to taste as many flavors as possible during production and that usually keeps me satisfied.
Signature products: 90% of what we sell is just regular ice cream. We do have a root beer fl oat made with our Salted Pretzel Ice Cream that is very popular, and an ice cream bar that is Fleur de Sel ice cream dipped in our Valrhona chocolate blend and coated in candied hazelnut croquant.
Display case: We use a Sevel 24 pan display case. While we technically make ice cream, I like displaying it gelato style.
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: I had a guy say that we had changed how he thinks about ice cream now. He said that he never knew such a simple common thing could be elevated to a culinary level.
Best part of the business: I love seeing the shop packed on a hot summer evening, people sitting outside and enjoying the ice cream after dinner and spending time with family and friends. There is something very nostalgic about that experience.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? I would just be over at the chocolate shop even more than I am now!
Ice cream philosophy: The best ice cream is the freshest ice cream.
What's next? With two ice cream shops and two chocolate shops, I am pretty tapped out but I am looking for a cool old ice cream truck that I can cruise around the city in. Put on some good tunes and bring ice cream to the people!
Owner: The Bota Brothers: Adrian Bota & Cosmin Bota1767 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118216-321-7422 • www.piccadillyartisanyogurt.com
Business Profile: Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt is an all organic self-serve frozen yogurt shop (USDA certified organic yogurt).
How it all began: We really wanted to offer a truly healthy alternative in the frozen yogurt market. Our hypothesis is that if people were offered a product that not only has pre- and probiotics and all the other health benefits of a live yogurt culture, but also made with milk from grass fed cows, without any hormones or antibiotics and with real fruit (no powders or artificial flavors).
Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt's Bota Brothers.
What you're trying to do differently: We are really doing three things that are innovative/ different: First, we are one of a few yogurt shops to be fully organic – indeed the first in Ohio and the Midwest to dedicate all of our machines to organic yogurt. We also offer vegan yogurt made from organic coconut milk – and this is an actual, live culture yogurt and not sorbet. We are getting a tremendous response from vegans and others as the taste and texture of this yogurt is amazing. Coconut milk has a different freezing point than dairy milk and an overall different composition which means that it comes out creamier and smoother, not as icy perhaps as regular milk-based yogurt. The result is a very tasty, healthy, creamy frozen yogurt treat. Our yogurt consists of 3 main ingredients: organic milk (or coconut milk), organic sugar cane, and organic pureed fruit. When you eat our pomegranate yogurt, for example, you are eating real pomegranate mixed with yogurt – no flavoring or colors added. Second, we are focused on sustainability and ethical sourcing throughout the shop – not just with the yogurt. The vast majority of our furniture and decorations come from reclaimed materials sourced in the Cleveland area. For example, we made tables out of doors, tables from reclaimed butcher blocks, benches made from pallets, and counters using reclaimed cement/rocks as well as pallet and barn wood. Third, we are not “targeting” the typical frozen yogurt consumer: younger children in suburban strip malls. Rather, our focus is on walk-up, urban areas and the 18-40 demographic. Currently, there are only a few frozen yogurt shops that locate or focus on urban areas and we feel that this is a great opportunity for us. We are also greatly supported by the local community as many who live in urban areas such as ours want to take part in urban renewal and want to live a more organic, healthy lifestyle.
Number of flavors: 10 (eight made from organic cow’s milk and two vegan flavors from organic coconut milk)
Most popular flavors: Organic Pomegranate, Organic Strawberry, and Organic Creamy Vegan Coconut
Favorite flavor to eat: Organic Pomegranate and our new Vegan Pineapple
How often do you change flavors? Every three to four weeks
How much product do you eat per week? Two to three servings
Signature products: Our organic coconut milk vegan flavors and our exclusive all-organic cow’s milk-based flavors. We also carry a selection of organic toppings and one of our most popular toppings is our homemade organic whipped cream. Another customer favorite is our chocolate covered sea salt caramel chunks.
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: That it tastes real and doesn’t have any artificial after-taste. The flavors are authentic and fresh.
Best part of the business: Interacting with customers and spreading the word about why organic is important; sharing in the benefits of an all-organic, truly healthy snack.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? Anything food-related.
Frozen dessert philosophy: We believe that even frozen dessert should be sourced from the best possible source and made with the most real, close to nature ingredients. No artificial flavors – keeping it as pure as possible is what makes our yogurt delicious.
What's next? More organic and vegan desserts; additional organic and vegan toppings.
Shake Shack®, Theater District, New York. Photo by Peter Mauss/ESTO.
Owner: Shake Shack EnterprisesDomestic: New York, Connecticut, Florida, Washington DC, Massachusetts, PennsylvaniaInternational: Middle East, United Kingdom, Turkey646-747-7200 • www.shakeshack.com
Shake Shack®, Madison Square Park, NYC. Photo by Peter Mauss/ESTO.
Business Profile: Shake Shack® is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its all-natural burgers, flat-top dogs, frozen custard, beer, wine and more. With its fresh and simple, high-quality food at a great value, Shake Shack is a fun and lively community-gathering place with widespread appeal. From its ingredients and employment practices to its environmental responsibility, design and community investment, Shake Shack’s mission is to continually Stand For Something Good®. Shake Shack is part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), which includes many of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, among others. Since the original Shake Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, it now has multiple locations in New York, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, and seven international locations, with London and Istanbul slated to open in 2013.
How it all began: Shake Shack founder, Danny Meyer, hails from the Midwest where he grew up enjoying frozen custard. Danny’s fondness for frozen custard is directly reflected in the menu offerings at Shake Shack. We serve frozen custard because it is superior to regular ice cream. It is dense, rich, creamy and made fresh daily at each Shake Shack location. We worked with Nicole Kaplan, pastry chef at one of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, to create our own proprietary recipe.
Shake Shack® concrete. Photo by William Brinson.
Shake Shack® shakes. Photo by William Brinson.
What you're trying to do differently: We are by no means the first, nor the last, to add something to the dialogue on frozen custard. We put our own twist on a beloved Midwest treat, made with milk from dairy farmers who do not use artificial growth hormones. In addition to offering classic chocolate and vanilla, we also create fan favorites like Thin Mint and Red Velvet, as well as more distinct, culinary-minded flavors like Cinnamon Pear Cobbler and Maple Gingersnap Cheesecake. These delectable flavors rotate and change on a regular basis through our monthly “Custard Calendar.”
Number of flavors: We offer two permanent flavors, Chocolate and Vanilla. Every month we also offer a rotating “Custard Calendar” of seven additional flavors, one flavor for each day of the week. The flavors on our monthly “Custard Calendar” are created by our Culinary Development Manager, Mark Rosati. To view this month’s calendar, please visit: www.shakeshack.com/2012/01/01/custard-calendar/.
Most popular flavors: Fan favorites include: Red Velvet, Thin Mint, Banana Bread, Coffee & Donuts, Salted Caramel, and Oatmeal Crème Pie.
Favorite ingredients: Our “Concretes” are dense frozen custard blended at high speed with mix-ins such as cheesecake blondie, chocolate truffle cookie dough, hazelnut brown butter streusel, bacon peanut brittle, and many more. Each Shake Shack location offers an exclusive selection of concretes specific to that location. Examples include The Concrete Jungle (vanilla frozen custard, fudge sauce, bananas, and peanut butter sauce) at Madison Square Park, Old Country Rocky Road (chocolate frozen custard, marshmallow sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough and almonds) at Westbury, Long Island, and Revere’s Tracks (vanilla frozen custard, cheesecake blondie, peanut butter sauce, and chocolate sprinkles) at Chestnut Hill, MA. We use local vendors wherever possible for our mix-ins. Our South Florida locations feature The Sugar Monkey for key lime pie and salted caramel banana cream pie. Our Philadelphia Shack mixes in Termini Bros. cannoli shells to our Liberty Shell concrete. Our New Haven Shack uses pecan shortbread from Scratch Baking in our Elm City Coffee Break concrete. As part of our community efforts, a portion of sales from a designated concrete at each Shake Shack is donated to a local charity.
Favorite flavor to serve: We love serving up creative seasonal flavors like Candy Cane Crunch and Sweet Potato Marshmallow in December, or fall favorites like Pumpkin Pie and Caramel Apple. It’s all about keeping things fresh and innovative while still honoring our classic roots.
How often do you change flavors? Our classic Chocolate and Vanilla are always on the menu, but each month brings a new “Custard Calendar” of seven flavors that rotate daily.
Offbeat flavors: Some of our most creative flavors have been Beer Nuts, Waffles & Bacon, Figs & Goat Cheese, Olive Oil Cake, Heirloom Tomato and Basil. All have been served to guests – you never know what’s up next month!
Signature products: It’s all in the name – our frozen custard can always be spun into a shake using vanilla, chocolate, caramel, black & white, strawberry or peanut butter. We also offer the Fair Shake, a coffee shake made with 100% certified organic Arabica Fair Trade beans. A scoop of custard also tops our Root Beer, Purple Cow and Creamsicle floats. Get your custard scooped, spun into a shake, or blended with mix-ins into a Concrete – everyone has a favorite!
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: “Shake Shack’s pitch is that, yes, even in New York, we can all return to a simpler, cleaner, friendlier place and time. It delivers on that pitch most reliably in its shakes and custards. The shakes are smooth, not crunchy with ice crystals, and drinkable, not so stiff that they fight the straw. And the flavors are true.” – The New York Times “My idea of a perfect day is a frozen custard from Shake Shack and a walk in the park.” – Nora Ephron
Best part of the business: We love fostering a community environment and giving our guests a product that they feel happy about and connected to.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? It’s not just about the frozen custard for us. Our menu offers all-natural burgers, flat-top dogs, fries, beer, wine and more. Shake Shack’s mission is to preserve, and put a unique spin on, the culinary traditions of the classic American burger stand. We were born as a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park, and have been included on many “Best Burger” lists.
Motto: Our company motto is “Stand For Something Good.” It applies to everything we do on every level.
What's next? We have new Shake Shacks opening in 2013 both domestically and internationally, including our first-ever UK Shack in London’s Covent Garden, as well as two locations in Istanbul, Turkey. Plus, we’re looking forward to opening our long awaited Shake Shack in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal. The rest of 2013 looks to be very exciting, and 2014 is already shaping up to be a banner year for Shake Shack. Big things are in the works at the Shack! Stay tuned…
Vivoli Il Gelato's Silvana Vivoli. Photo by Geert Teuwen.
Owner: The Vivoli Family & Nick Valenti (private investor)Macy’s Herald Square, 151 West 34th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001858-566-4298 • www.vivoli.it/en
Business Profile: We are a family-run gelateria that has been in business since the 1930’s, now in its third generation.
How it all began: My family has been making gelato since the 1930’s. My grandfather and granduncle opened Vivoli then as a milk shop. As Vivoli became a popular neighborhood gathering place where locals would catch up, my grandfather introduced coffee drinks, whipped cream, and sweet treats such as cialdoni and biscotti to the shop. In 1932 my grandfather began gelato production, bringing ice from Saltino in Northern Italy for refrigeration. From there the business grew with many added flavors thanks to new technology and refrigeration advancements. My father then took over in the 1960’s. My sister Patrizia and I grew up in the Vivoli kitchen, and in the late 1980’s. I took over as head gelato-maker. It was a natural progression.
What you're trying to do differently: I make my gelati and sorbetti fresh daily using only pure, quality, minimal ingredients, and never add artificial flavoring.
Vivoli Il Gelato. Photo by Geert Teuwen.
Number of flavors: In New York we have nine gelato flavors and three sorbetto flavors. In Italy I offer a lot more, about 20 to 25 flavors in the winter and 30 in the summer.
Most popular flavors: Our most renowned flavors are crema, cioccolata, riso, pistacchio, and strawberry during the summer. People say, “You come to Florence – you visit the Duomo, the Uffizi, then you go to Vivoli for crema gelato.” Customers also really love the hazelnut, especially when they learn that I import the hazelnuts directly from Piedmont where they are famously delicious.
Favorite ingredients: I enjoy making gelati, working with great whole milk, quality eggs, large grained sugar, and authentic Italian dry nuts and spices. I don’t have one favorite ingredient, but combine different ingredients for the best results.
Favorite flavor to eat: My two favorite flavors to eat are coffee and zabaione.
Favorite flavor to serve: I love to serve combinations of my gelati, and am not afraid to let customers know when two of them do not pair well together! The pera and cioccolata is a match made in heaven!
How often do you change flavors? Some flavors remain all year long such as the crema, cioccolata, stracciatella (chocolate chip), riso, and nocciola (hazelnut). I change some others, particularly the sorbetti, every season, and several times during each season, depending on what’s fresh, ripe, delicious.
Strangest flavor you've made: At the counter, the weirdest thing I ever served was a tobacco gelato. You would be surprised at how many people enjoyed it! Particularly the smokers. Also, I once participated in a special dinner where I was asked to create very unusual flavors: Onion gelato paired with a squash soup, parmesan gelato paired with a tomato burrata, and mustard gelato paired with a filet mignon.
How much product do you eat per week? I can eat gelato from when I open at 9 am until late. I never get sick of it!
Signature products: Crema is our top signature gelato, but the riso is a close second.
Display case: Our display case is custom made for us by a top-notch artisan.
Best compliment you've ever received about your gelato: I must share a letter from a prominent Hong Kong banker who visited the gelateria in Florence. He said, “Memories of your fine gelato make me wish to be back in the shadow of the Duomo. In fact, I was so taken by your wonderful creation that on returning to Hong Kong I provided instruction to my solicitors that upon my death my remains are to be interred in a wall tomb behind your main counter so that on Judgment Day I will be able to rise from my tomb and immediately see the tubs of Torroncino and Mousse di Cioccolato and know I’m in Heaven.”
Best part of the business: There is nothing better than making something you love, and having people love what you make. Working with my family is an added bonus, as we are very close and I learn from them every day.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? I love to eat, drink, and share with people – so it would definitely be something in the food industry. But to be honest, it’s hard to think about another occupation because gelato-making has always been a part of who I am. It’s not something I was forced into by my family, it’s something I wanted to do and something I love doing.
Gelato philosophy: My family has a philosophy that we have maintained since first introducing gelato. It relies on a dedication to using only exceptional, quality ingredients without additives or flavoring allowing the pure flavor of each component to shine. We take the time to understand each ingredient and how to work with it. We make everything daily with minimal ingredients and test the fruits daily as well to ensure our customers are only served the freshest gelati and sorbetti.
What's next? We really want to focus on making Vivoli New York another gelato institution – not just a cousin to our famous Florence shop, but a sister.
The Zarlengo Family
Owner: Tom and Mary Lou Zarlengo257 W Joe Orr Rd., Chicago Heights IL 60411708-754-9080 • www.zarlengositalianice.com
Business Profile: Retail and wholesale Italian ice and gelato business.
How it all began: My parents, John and Sally Zarlengo, had the idea to open up a little ice cream shop in the neighborhood that we were raised in, and we found a location that we still thrive in. We thought it was going to be easy, but then we found out it was really hard work, just like our other business. But that didn’t turn us away – everything good is hard work – the outcome will reflect that. So, for 30 years we’ve been at this location. Grandpa’s still in his [asphalt] business, and I’ve had to quit my regular job working with him to become the Italian ice and gelato company that we are today, along with my wife Mary Lou, sons Todd and Tommy, their supportive wives and my daughter Alison.
What you're trying to do differently: The biggest thing that we’re trying to do differently is use simple, great ingredients as opposed to using artificial flavors that are supposed to taste like a real strawberry or raspberry, I try to use things that come out of the earth to develop a flavor that’s already beautiful. Why try to recreate something with artificial ingredients?
Number of flavors: We probably produce about 40 to 50 flavors of Italian ices, and the same number for gelato. It’s endless because we’re having fun and when you’re having fun you’re never done.
Favorite ingredients: Simple, beautiful ingredients, like freshly roasted nuts.
Favorite flavor to eat: On a hot day I love a good grapefruit Italian ice. For gelato, it’s probably the Coconut Almond Joy.
Favorite flavor to serve: All of them. If we’re not proud of it, we’re not going to serve it.
How often do you change flavors? Every week.
Offbeat flavors: We do an Aztec chocolate that we make with dark chocolate, cinnamon and chilies, and we do a miso-caramel that has this beautiful miso paste in the caramel. We also do sweet corn, fun stuff like that, but they’re all straight-forward, delicious flavors.
How much product do you eat per week? I taste every recipe we make, a spoonful of it, at least, so – many teaspoons.
Signature products: Hand-dipped ice cream bars, homemade Italian ices and gelato.
Display case: Kelvinator
Best compliment you've ever received about your ices or gelato: That they taste as good or better than in the old countries like Italy and Argentina. There’s no better compliment than that.
Best part of the business: Working with my family. Sometimes it’s also the hard part, but at the end of the day we’re always on the same page and part of the same team – family.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? I’d be working in my father’s asphalt company or possibly as a bread baker.
Business philosophy: The words that always come to mind are “head and heart”. We’re a mom-and-pop shop, and we’re in the business of putting smiles on people’s faces, which is so easy with Italian ices and gelato. People come here in a good mood and we make sure they leave in a better one.
What's next? Next is to do that same thing every day as good or better as the day before. Every day it seems we’re growing a little bit more in our retail and wholesale business, so another store or the expansion of our production facility is a possibility.
Owner: Michael Palmer & Eva Ein-PalmerCorporate Offices: 835 East Canon Perdido, Santa Barbara, CA 93103805-963-8813 • www.mcconnells.com
Business Profile: Manufacturing and wholesale/retail ice cream.
How it all began: Purchased McConnell’s in late 2011.
What you're trying to do differently: Trying to build on an almost 70-year tradition of excellence in ice cream by continually improving in every area of our business.
Number of flavors: 60-plus
Most popular flavors: Salted Caramel Chip, Golden State Vanilla, Turkish Coffee, Peppermint Stick
Favorite flavor to eat: Black Coffee Chip
How often do you change flavors? We’re always developing new flavors.
How much product do you eat per week? More than any red-blooded American male with high cholesterol should.
Display case: Oscartielle.
Best compliment you've ever received about your ice cream: A smile.
Best part of the business: The small amount of sleep I get.
If you weren't making frozen desserts, what would you be doing? Eating frozen desserts.
Ice cream philosophy: If you’re making a great product, get out of the business. There’s no room for great. You have to be beyond great and obsessed with being exceptional.
What's next? I try not to think that far ahead.