With the opening of Gelarto, excellent artisan gelato has found a home on Bainbridge Island.
Teachers by trade, owners Jennifer and Fareed Al-Abboud gave me a lesson in close cousins gelato, ice cream, and sorbet. Italian-style ice cream, gelato is denser and lower in fat than American-style ice cream because it is churned slower (and therefore has less air) and is made with mostly whole milk and less heavy cream. Gelato has about half the calories of ice cream. Unlike ice cream and gelato, sorbet is vegan and fruit-based. Gelarto sells both gelato and sorbet.
Good gelato, like the kind Gelarto serves, is obvious when you taste it. It has fresh ingredients and is not artificially preserved or colored. Jennifer said you can look at gelato and know if it has been made with an additive base and whipped. “It stands higher and is lighter. Authentic gelato sits lower and denser.”
When you feast your eyes and mouth on Gelarto’s gelato it is obvious what she means. The flavors, such as pistachio or chocolate hazelnut, are rich and pure, with just the right amount of sweet. Coconut is deeply coconut, melon sorbet is full-bodied melon.
Although the Al-Abbouds have sampled gelato around the world, they became passionate about the stuff while teaching abroad at the Dubai American Academy. Across the street was a popular gelato spot where in the mornings the teachers grabbed nutty gelatos with espresso (a delectable combination called affogato) for breakfast, and after school the parents and their kids would grab cool gelatos. Fareed said the line was always out the door.
After returning to the northwest this year, the couple decided to get serious about serious gelato at home. Jennifer explained that they originally planned to make their own but decided to go with a local pro instead—d’Ambrosio, which delivers fresh, organic gelato and sorbet on demand. Partnering with Roosters coffee house next door, in the future the Al-Abbouds hope to offer affogato, the espresso/gelato drink, along with a few unique tea blends.
So where does the art in Gelarto fit in? Fareed is a K-12 art teacher and an artist whose work currently covers the walls of the shop. Jennifer is a social studies and Spanish teacher. Both love art from different cultures and kids, interests they wanted to incorporate into their new business—hence the name Gelarto: Italian Ice Cream and Global Arts. Committed to fair trade and helping young and emerging artists, they plan to use their shop to feature and sell local as well as global art. They intend to build up the art side of their business in the coming months once they’ve launched the gelato side of things.
They also look forward to other adventures at Gelarto, including the possibility of hosting birthday parties and organized art events.
Gelarto’s official grand opening is Saturday, August 31, at 11 a.m. The first 50 customers get a free T-shirt. But you don’t have to wait that long to sample their stuff. They did a “soft” opening last week and are now open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The shop is located on the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and Bjune Drive (where Bon Bon used to be).
- Is Bay Hay Opening an Irish Pub in Rolling Bay?
- New Live Culture Frozen Yogurt Spot Opens in Lynwood Center
- Via Rosa 11: A Taste of Italy in Rolling Bay
- Mora Iced Creamery One of Nation’s Best Says Food and Wine Magazine
- Hitchcock’s Brendan McGill Honored as the People’s Best New Chef
- New Pizza in Town: Sentirsi Bene
- Greg Atkinson’s Marche Now Open
Photos by Julie Hall.