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“THE HOME OF GREAT GELATO!” Declared the heading on the flyer. And I didn’t have to get on a plane and fly all the way to Italy to find it, either. A trip to the bustling city of Makati was all it took. There, nestled in a quiet corner on the 2nd level of the posh Greenbelt 5 Ayala Mall, overlooking beautiful gardens of the Greenbelt Park, great gelato had indeed found a home.
Super, Superlative Gelato
I first heard of this great gelato’s home from my daughter, who was one day raving about the best gelato she ever had in her entire life. “It’s called Gelatissimo, Mom! Gelato with an –issimo!” Though the entirety of her life spans a mere 11 years thus far, she is quite the foodie, so I knew it had to be really good gelato. I was determined to try some for myself, and not just take her word for it. Besides, who could resist the lure of gelato, with an –issimo?
As I stepped into the shop, I knew that all my expectations would be fulfilled. I was instantly mesmerized by 32 flavors of wonderful, creamy, Italian goodness, showcased in two separate kiosks, and decked with a variety of confections, nuts, fruits, and other edible goodies. I was sure this would be no mere gelato experience. It would be super. In fact, it would be superlative.
The Real Taste of Italia
On this particular day, I was fortunate enough to meet Anton and Machez Aguas, dynamic husband and wife team who own and operate this particular franchise of Gelatissimo. After the warm welcome, I was ushered to a table, where I sat and eagerly awaited my great Italian experience to begin. I surveyed the warm and cozy café, decorated in nostalgic and robust Italian fashion. The soundtrack from The Godfather played in the background. Anton sat across me and explained that the store was the first of its kind, being the only café-type (as compared with a simple take-out kiosk) Gelatissimo anywhere in the world. Machez started me off with a glass of Café Latte, concocted from Mokador Italian Coffee, a rich and delicious blend exclusive to Gelatissimo. Then followed the Affogato (which means “drowned” in Italian), a coffee-based beverage meets- dessert experience. A shot of espresso over Biscottino gelato (Italian Cookies and Cream), topped with chopped nuts. As I indulged in the incredible experience of hot and cold, bitter and sweet creamy goodness with a nutty crunch, I couldn’t help but think of Don Corleone and the rest of the mob bosses. I was convinced that Mafia wars would be a lot fewer if disputes were settled over coffee and gelato. Then maybe Clemenza would have said to Rocco, “Leave the gun. Take the Biscottino.” Just maybe.
Only the Freshest and Finest, Please!
If the mafiosi needed more convincing, though, then a gelato-based Banana Split would be in order. This was next on the menu for me, and each bite was more satisfying than the first. The classic combination of Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry gelato, served with whipped cream, bananas, nuts and chocolate syrup, is just one of the many mouth-watering treats on the menu. Gelatissimo has a wide variety of sundaes, including the award-winning Death by Chocolate: Veronese Chocolate, Chocolate Hazelnut. Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate gelato with cookies, choco flake shavings and pieces of mud-cake provide for an experience that is wellworth near death. Between my ooh’s, aah’s and mmm’s, Machez and Anton explained to me that one of the keys to great gelato is that all the flavors are made fresh in the store daily, by 4 highly-trained gelato makers. Only the finest, freshest ingredients are used, and everything is flown in from Australia, home of the mother franchise. No preservatives are added, no shortcuts are employed in the process, and no expense is spared to bring you truly great gelato. Real Sicilian chocolate, fresh fruits and nuts, real teas and coffees are some of what you’ll fi nd in every scoop. Add to this the excellent service from the staff, and it is no wonder that Gelatissimo was awarded Most Promising Retailer by the Ayala group of companies, one of the Philippines most-distinguished retail groups. And incredibly, all this was within their first 6 months of operation in 2010.
Aside from the 32 flavors of gelato (on rotation every three months from a roster of 80 plus flavors in all), Gelatissimo also serves light Italian snacks. Three Paninis were brought out next: Quattro Formagio (with 4 divine cheeses), Prosciutto (irresistible Italian ham), and Vegetarino (a medley of healthy, fresh greens). In the midst of all this, I was beginning to feel like a Greco-Roman in ancient days, indulging in gastronomic delights of epic proportions. Biting into the fresh, crisp bread and tasty fillings, I was certain these pleasures were way too good to feel guilty about. This was hardly the time for remorse. This was the time to say hello to my inner hedonist and just revel in the delights on hand. Plus, there was more gelato to come and it helped to know that the dairy variants are 90% fat-free, while the sorbet variants are 100% fat-free. Goodbye, guilt! Hello, goodness!
Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe. A Few More Scoops, Before I Go!
Nearly three hours and immeasurable satisfaction later, it was time for me to go. But not without one last trip to the kiosk. 32 flavors, ranging from the classic (Tiramisu, Chocolate, Pistachio, Vanilla), to the indulgent (Chili Chocolate, Chocolate Truffle, Crème Caramel, Roasted Almond), to the light and tart (Lemon, Raspberry, Forest Berries, Lime), to the exotic (Passion fruit, Guava, Coconut, Green Tea) demanded one last try. I stood there and employed the time-tested decision making tool: a round of eenie, meenie, minie, moe. One round turned to several, actually. And I still hadn’t come close to trying all 32 flavors. Which means one thing and one thing alone: the home of great gelato will have me as a guest piu presto presto; sooner than soon.