Food and Drink

Buon appetito: Here’s where to find a creamy gelato in the Queen City

Courtesy of Capishe
Courtesy of Capishe

Although the name literally translates to “ice cream,” there is a common misconception of the difference between gelato and American ice cream. Both frozen treats are go-tos during the scorching hot months, yet they are not identical. In short, gelato could be described as ice cream’s Italian cousin, but what really sets them apart? 

First, let’s explore texture. According to an article by the Food Network, gelato has a much creamier consistency than American ice cream. Gelato’s texture is smoother and more dense, which points back to the basic ingredients and process of creation. Authentically, gelato requires more milk and less cream as opposed to ice cream. Gelato is also made with little or no eggs and is churned at a much slower pace, making the texture less airy and more dense. 

[Related: Your ultimate guide to 90 ice cream shops, organized by neighborhood]

Another difference is serving temperature. To keep its silky smooth texture, gelato is served at a warmer temperature as opposed to ice cream (according to the Food Network, this is about 10 to 15 degrees warmer, to be more specific). The warmer temperature comes in handy when you want to eat quicker but also want to avoid the dreaded brain-freeze aftermath.

Whether it’s gelato or ice cream, frozen treats are a necessity during the summer months. For those who are looking for gelato without flying across the globe, below is a list of several places to get your fix right here in the Queen City:

(1) Artisen Old Fashioned Gelato

301 W. John St., Matthews

Courtesy of Artisen Old Fashioned Gelato

Artisen Old Fashioned Gelato is nestled in downtown Matthews and serves Ecuadorian, old-fashioned gelato for those with food allergies in-mind. It’s all-natural, creamy, fruit-based gelato is gluten free, tree nut free, peanut free, dairy free, dye free, egg free and organic. Made with 100% natural fruit, this gelato is great for those with or without food allergies.

(2) Bar Cocoa

201 E. Trade St.

Credit_ BarCocoa copy
Courtesy of Bar Cocoa

Bar Cocoa is a small dessert shop located in The Ritz-Carlton. Along with other decadent treats, Bar Cocoa serves seven different flavors of fresh, handmade gelato. If you’re in a hurry and can’t make it to the actual store, look for the “gelato tricycle” pedaling around the Uptown area for gelato and push pops during the summertime. 

(3) Bella Fresco Cafe & Gelateria

8200 Providence Road #200

CharlotteFive archives Isabella Bartolucci

End your Mediterranean lunch with a cup of gelato from Bella Fresco Cafe & Gelateria. Sizes come in small, medium, large and pint-size to take home for later (or to eat right then and there — no judgement). 

(4) Capishe

500 E. Morehead St.

Courtesy of Capishe DVGROSS

The fast-casual Italian favorite Capishe offers wood-fired oven pizza, pasta, meatballs and salads with Italian-imported ingredients, including fresh Mozzarella di Bufala. That’s no excuse not to save room for a gelato and maybe an Illy coffee and espresso.

[Related: Capishe, a fast-casual Italian eatery, is open. Here’s what to expect.]

(5) Gerardo’s Gelato & Italian Ice

325 McGill Ave. NW, Concord

Gerado’s Gelato & Italian Ice serves New York inspired Italian ice, Italian ice pops and artisan gelato and sorbeto. Their gelato is crafted from locally sourced ingredients and is made in small batches to keep flavors such as Chocolate Hazelnut, Salted Caramel and Vanilla Stracciatella fresh and delicious. 

(6) Inizio Pizza Napoletana

10620 Providence Road, Suite A2230; Park Road Suite 101

Courtesy of Inizio

You may come for the handcrafted pizza, but there is a chance you’ll stay for the gelato. Inizio is always keeping customers on their toes with new seasonal menu items, including its gelato flavors. Visit Inizio on Thursdays for $2 gelato and enjoy it on the patio with friends or family (after eating the Neapolitan style pizza, of course).

[Related: It’s almost National Pizza Day. From Carmella’s to Zio, here’s how Charlotte pie makers do it differently.]

(7) The Local Scoop

5355 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.

Although this shop is primarily known for its hard-scoops of ice cream, The Local Scoop also serves a couple of flavors of gelato. This local business uses locally sourced ingredients to create its freshly crafted ice cream and gelato. 

(8) Pino Gelato

5501 Josh Birmingham Pkwy.

Pino Gelato, an authentic Italian gelato shop, is located in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport at Terminal B, Gate B5. The gelato is made with low-fat milk and comes in a variety of flavors. Think of Pino Gelato next time you need to kill time before you head out of town.

(9) Pop Bar

3123 N. Davidson St #102b

Courtesy of Pop Bar

Pop Bar’s menu consists of traditional and unique flavors of what it calls popGelatos, popSorbettos and yogurtPops. PopGelatos, for the most part, are locally sourced and mimic the taste of traditional Italian gelato. PopSorbettos contain no milk — only real, fresh fruit. Lastly, yogurtPops are entirely yogurt based. All three can be customized with various “poppings” and dips.

(10) Whole Foods Market

6610 Fairview Road; 7221 Waverly Walk Ave.; 400 E. Stonewall St.

Whole Foods Market’s bakery serves fresh gelato every day. Flavors such as Cookies & Cream and Pineapple Basil are sprinkled in the variety of seasonal and classic, traditional flavors. Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore when you have a scoop of Italian gelato in-hand.