Guide To Great Gelato In Connecticut

April Guilbault
 Photo:  Gelato & Ciocolato

Photo:  Gelato & Ciocolato

The humidity is making your hair look like Rosanna Rosannadanna’s. You are sweating just…standing…still. What can help ease the ills of this sweltering weather? Gelato. The cool will survive! Cups and cones of creamy cold, Italian, La-Dolce-Vita-I’m-on-a-Vespa gelato. Luckily, scattered across our fair state, a wide variety of gelato can be found and now you have a reason to smile about this crazy heat and humidity. Scoops, scoops away! Brava!

Cafe Aroma

55 Wall St., Norwalk

Sit and stay awhile…linger. Enjoy your gelato here like it’s the only thing you have to do today. Chat with the charming owner in this laid-back and friendly cafe. Almond Biscotti, Cannoli, Fig and Cream, Oreo, Hazelnut could be in their case, but flavors change weekly, so, alas, you’ll just have to pop in periodically to sample them all. Oh, the peril.

Gelato  & Cioccolato

232 East Putnam Ave., Cos Cob

www.gelatoecioccolato.us

From the Dolomite Mountains in Italy to you in the Nutmeg State…gelato made from traditional Italian recipes. Using hazelnuts from Piedmont, almonds from Apulia and pistachios from Sicily, you will enjoy all of their flavors on a hot summer day; Strawberry Cheesecake, Nutella, Italian Cookies, dairy-free raspberry-yum! They also have sugar, gluten and lactose free gelati, too. 

Gelatissimo Artisan Gelato

26 Forest St., New Canaan 

Even with roughly 22 flavors mounded colorfully in their case (out of 60 in their repertoire), these made-on-sight cups of heaven will leave you struggling to pick a flavor. They all look and taste so good! Pistachio, Espresso, Banana, Cappuccino, Black Fig, along with seasonal flavors such as Pumpkin Pie…grab one of those wee gelato spoons and dig in. They also make gelato-filled crepes and custom-made cakes. Just when you thought a cup was the only way to eat gelato…

G-Zen

2 East Main St., Branford

www.g-zen.com

While this is not a gelato store per se, G-Zen does offer a unique gelato that may be very enticing to some of our readers, making this 100% vegan and organic restaurant a worthwhile trip. At G-Zen, they make house-made raw cashew gelato “ice cremes” that are grain, soy, and gluten free and made without processed sugars. They proudly serve Vanilla Bean Lacuma (which is a Peruvian fruit) and Cacao Maca Fudge, both brimming with superfood powers. They are served artfully in a half coconut shell, completing this uber-natural picture.

J. Foster Ice Cream

Avon and Simsbury

www.jfostericecream.com

22 varieties of wondrous, smile-inducing gelato! Zabaglione, Malted Milk Ball, Tiramisu, Gianduja (cocoa/hazelnut), Amaretto, Espresso Bean, Fig, Amarena Cherry, Limoncello (have no fear, they have chocolate and vanilla, too) are just a few of the many worth naming. Leave your passport at home and simply travel to J. Fosters with a hungry belly for a taste of Italy.

Johnny Gelato

424 Main St., Ridgefield

www.johnnygelato.com

Rice Pudding, Maple Bacon, Salted Chocolate or Peanut Butter Fudge are just some of their customer’s favorite flavors. Say, what if you could make your own Gelato Cookie Sandwich? You can here! Pick your cookie, pick your gelato and they will smash them together into a perfect hand-held sandwich. They will even fill cannoli shells with cannoli gelato if you are wanting an even more Italian combo. With 20 gelato and 4 sorbets to choose from in their case, your personalized dessert sandwiches (or good ol’ fashioned cups) are going to rock.

Koko’s Cafe and Gelato

841 Boston Post Rd., Darien

www.kokosdarien.com

On any random, hot, Darien day you are likely to find 18 luscious flavors of gelato awaiting your consumption. Get those spoons ready. Which one to enjoy? Mascarpone with Espresso, Salty Caramel, classic Oreo, nutty Peanut Butter, campy S’Mores, tropical Coconut, creamy Cannoli, refreshing Mint? That’a a conundrum of epic proportions. Ponder away, we know you are up to the task.

La Fenice

315 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich

This small gelateria houses a few tables, a bit of counter space, and an abundance of Italian goodies-gelato, pastries, and coffee. Get ready for the real-deal; the Italian owner developed the recipes while studying pastry-making in Italy. Fresh ingredients in the gelato and house-made waffle cones to hold that gelato make these treats extra special. 

Mozzicato de Paquale Bakery and Pastry Shop

Hartford/Wallingford/Plainville

www.mozzicatobakery.com

Established in 1908, this bakery has been churning out all manner of traditional Italian pastries and desserts. In addition to their bakery items like cookies and wedding cakes, they make the much-loved gelato. Flavors such as Zuppa Inglese, Bacio, Torrone, Tiramisu, Ricotta, Pistachio, Stracciatella (Italian version of  vanilla with chocolate chips) will go well with any of the cookies like your Nonna used to make.

Tusk and Cup

Ridgefield, Wilton

www.tuskandcup.com

With an acute sensibility to quality ingredients and process, Tusk and Cup offers you a true Italian experience with any and all of their coffee and gelato creations. 11 swirled and luscious varieties (plus 2 dairy-free sorbetto) are present in their case perpetually, with samples happily available for the tasting. Their best sellers include Hazelnut, Chocolate, Mint Chip and Coconut (my fave is the Pink Grapefruit, in all its pastel-y glory). Still wanting a coffee, though? Have an Affogato…gelato that is “drowned” in perfectly prepared espresso. That just might be the best of both worlds.

And finally, two more additions that are worth mentioning despite them not fitting into the “cup of gelato” entries we have talked about thus far…

Vecchitto’s Italian Ice

323 deKoven Dr., Middletown

Since the 1930s, Vecchitto’s has been churning out (ha) Italian ices and becoming an veritable institution in the process. Made in an ice cream maker, their ices land somewhere between a sorbet, a granita, and ice cream. Intrigued yet? They have traditional “ice” flavors like lemon, watermelon, and banana but also ice-creamy flavors such as Pistachio, Almond, Pineapple, Chocolate and Special Dark Chocolate (which has a special following). Be advised: they close for the season in September so get over there!

Gelato Giuliana

www.gelatogiuliana.com

If you are so hot that you just can’t bear to leave your air-conditioned house, stock up on locally, New Haven-made, Gelato Guiliana. Sold in area markets such as Whole Foods and Walter Stewart’s (New Canaan)