The scoop on artisanal gelatos and sorbets
made with traditional Italian recipes,
fresh local ingredients — and amore.
STORY BY MARIA GAMBRELLI
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GELATO PETRINI
It’s a story as old as time. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, marry and … make gelato?
Mauro Petrini, who was born into a family of Italian restaurateurs, decided to go his own way and moved from Milan to Siena to work in Europe’s oldest financial institution, Monte dei Paschi di Siena. There he met Dawn Wolstein, an American also working at the bank. It was love at first sight.
They spent the next four years eating their way through Tuscany and Umbria, enjoying truffles and strangozzi at the Petrini family restaurant just outside Spoleto, and delicious gelatos and sorbets at well-known artisan boutiques throughout the area. “I loved taking Dawn to all the great gelato shops in my favorite cities, like Gelateria Marghera in Milano and Fata Morgana in Rome,” he recalls.
Mauro and Dawn wed in 2004 in a beautiful, Italian-inspired ceremony in Florida that was perfect in every way except one— the dessert menu was missing a crucial Italian ingredient: gelato. “We had forty guests from Italy, and all were shocked to learn that there were no artisan gelato shops in the entire state of Florida,” Dawn says.
Upon their return to Italy, the newlyweds decided to leave their plain vanilla careers in finance and carry on the Petrini family’s long tradition in the culinary arts, particularly the production of gelato—which Mauro’s uncle, Zio Luciano, began in 1957 in the region of Umbria.
In order to perfect their dessert-making skills and increase their flavor repertoire, Mauro and Dawn enrolled in classes in a wellknown dessert school in Veneto. They also received specialized training at Gelateria Flipet, a popular gelateria located just outside Turin in the Piedmont region. It was there that Mauro and Dawn began to appreciate the rich culinary traditions and local ingredients that make the Piedmont region not only a world culinary capital, but also home to Maestri Gelatieri of Piemonte, an organization dedicated to maintaining the tradition of Italian artisanal gelato production.
EXPORTING THEIR EXPERTISE
In 2006, the Petrinis moved to Boca Raton, where they began testing gelato recipes in two home ice cream makers. One flavor at a time, they made frozen desserts using ingredients local to South Florida and invited neighbors and friends to taste the flavors. “One thing I learned very quickly,” Mauro says, “is that great gelato doesn’t mean Italian ingredients. Great gelato is made with fresh local ingredients and Italian artisan techniques.”
A year later, with support from family, friends and the community, the couple opened their first laboratorio, The Gelato Shoppe da Petrini in Boca Raton. Between Mauro’s culinary skills as head gelatiere and Dawn’s skills in marketing and her local relationships, they were sure that their gelato and sorbetti “scoop shop” business would soon be booming. However, the market often has a funny way of adjusting the best-laid plans. Chef Petrini’s unique and delicious recipes using allnatural ingredients were getting rave reviews, but the demand came increasingly from the food service and grocery side of the market, not the “scoop shop” retail market.
TAKING A BIGGER LEAP
The forces of destiny—la fortsa del destino—once again intervened in Petrini’s life, when he met father and son gelato passionistas Jim and Koby Cohen. The Cohens’ significant skills in business growth, product development, operations, marketing and technology, combined with Chef Petrini’s 300-plus original recipes and traditional production methods, made for exciting opportunities for the team. In 2011, Petrini and the Cohens officially joined forces to launch Gelato Petrini, with an initial goal of establishing a production facility to enable the company to meet market demands. In early 2013, Gelato Petrini’s new FDAapproved, kosher, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility opened in Delray Beach, capable of producing large and small batches of gelato and sorbets for the food service industry.
Gelato Petrini’s grocery line consists of 24 flavors, including five sorbets and five soy-based, dairy-free gelatos. Their food service line boasts more than 800 flavors including traditional Italian flavors such as Tiramisu, Cassata Siciliana and Biscotti, as well as more exotic flavors, including Guava con Queso gelato (guava paste, cream cheese, whole milk and vanilla bean), vegan Chai Tea gelato (organic soy milk and chai concentrate), and Stout Beer and Chocolate gelato, made with Guinness beer and bittersweet chocolate. Chef Petrini’s sorbetto flavors include stand-bys like Raspberry, Chocolate Noir and Lemon, as well as Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Cantaloupe.
Gelato Petrini uses only fresh and natural ingredients in its gelatos and sorbets, with an emphasis on traditional gelato production techniques (no bases or premade, mass-produced mixes), guaranteeing a healthy and nutritious dessert. The benefits of manufacturing in South Florida are evident: an ample supply of fresh and seasonal fruit all year long.
“Many people ask me if my ingredients are from Italy,” Chef Patrini says. “My response is clear: I’ve never seen a mango, banana or coconut tree in Italy, so how can my ingredients come from Italy?”
In additional to extraordinary flavor profiles, Gelato Petrini seeks to make its products available to all types of palates and food tolerances through specialty manufacture of:
- Gelato without sugar that is rich in fiber and has a calorie count 30 percent less than ice cream
- Gluten-free gelati and sorbetti
- Gelato alla Soia, or soy-based gelato, which has the creaminess of dairy-based gelato but is 100 percent natural and lactose free
- Gelato fortified with antioxidants including pomegranate, blueberry and acai
- Gelato that adheres to strict kosher requirements
Gelato Petrini distributes to mass retail and food service outlets in Florida, New York, Ohio, Nevada and California. Want to learn more about flavor profiles, small batch/specialty orders, and where to find these extraordinary gelatos and sorbettis locally?
Here is the contact information:
1205 SW Fourth Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33444