Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You say Gelato, I say Gelato

My friend, Alicia, and I decided to venture into downtown this evening.  Several weeks ago we were driving down our main downtown strip and saw a cute gelato place but didn't have the opportunity to stop in.  So this evening, after cooking a really fresh and yummy dinner, we decided to give it a try!  And let me just tell you I was amazed.

I've never had gelato before, but last night I was watching Diner's, Drive-ins, and Dives and Guy was talking about ice cream shops - and they just so happened to feature one very similar to our place.  I don't remember the shop that he was visiting, but they made their gelato fresh every morning, with the best ingredients, and made some interesting flavors!
I have heard from many people that gelato is a one-of-a-kind thing - it's creamy, rich, and decadent and you can't mimic that flavor any where else.  Being an ice cream connoisseur (because I work at an ice cream store that makes homemade ice cream), I thought that I was going to be hard to phase - and boy was I wrong!

This lovely little shop called Coolato sits right on Knoxville's main street downtown, sandwiched between a movie theatre, a sandwich shop, and a French Crepe-erie.  They have cute cafe like seating right outside, with a sidewalk menu, big shop windows with seating, and a sneaky little alley full of two-top tables (with more outdoor seating in the back).  You walk inside and you instantly feel like you've stepped into a confused time warp - it is very modern, with clean lines and stylish decor, but the old-time feeling of a European cafe.

They have a full hot menu, serving breakfast, lunches, salads, and appetizers (like a cheese and fruit plate!), and have a variety of drinks like coffee, iced chai lattes, and shakes made with gelato.  They also have a "bambino" section, so it's kid friendly as well!

Now when it comes to the gelato, they have 3 sizes - Piccolo (small, up to 2 flavors), Mediano (medium, up to 2 flavors), and Grande (large, up to 3 flavors).  I got a Mediano with 2 flavors and it was a little over $5.00, which for ice cream in Knoxville is nothing.  It is a little more pricey than a Marble Slab or Coldstone, but it is totally worth it - the quality is amazing.

They have a ton of different flavors, ranging from their nondairy fresh fruit sorbettos (fruit sorbets) and their fun flavors like tiramisu gelato, or turtle mascarpone cheesecake gelato.  They change their flavors daily, and of course have seasonal favorites.  Whatever they don't make fresh, they import from Italy (the owners apparently spent time out there and fell in love with the product).
I chose to have fresh peach sorbetto and and the Turtle Mascarpone Cheesecake.  Talk about delicious! The sorbetto was icy, but sweet (and not overly sweet) with just enough creaminess to make you forget it's not dairy, and then the turtle... well... it was a turtle. Don't get too excited, right? Haha! It was fantastic.  I also tested the the tiramisu and YUM! Just the perfect amount of sweetness and a hint of coffee - it was perfect.

They give you adorable little plastic cups with cute "specifically for gelato" spoons. I found this out the hard way because I asked "Don't y'all have normal sized spoons?" and boy, they sure don't! Alicia and I sat down and fell in love - promising to come back at least once a month (to try everything!) or at least when our wallets allow it.

I'm so glad I discovered this place, although they have been there for awhile and remain busy (especially because they stay open until 11 and are right next to a theatre).  I am happy we have some authentic and homemade food! Gotta have TLC, even when we eat out, right?


  1. Yum! I was first introduced to gelato when we traveled to Italy. My sister and I would order a couple of scoops everyday!

  2. Katherine,

    Gelato is a fancy name for high quality, creamy, ice cream. It goes through a slightly different process, has a lower sugar content, and non-fat milk, plus a stabilizing agent that prevents it from freezing totally solid - hence the creaminess, but really think of it as icecream.

    You can make it - I bet! I would call the coffee ice cream I made and posted on my site gelato. You do need a cheap ice cream maker and a willingness to eat it right out of the ice cream maker with no additional freezing :)

    Your place sounds like a fabulous treat! Thanks for sharing.