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All kinds of gelato flavors can be mixed up at this new Decatur shop. Top, from left, are banana cream, strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, raspberry truffle and pink grapefruit; on the bottom are cookies and cream, vanilla, lemon, chocolate, apple and coconut.
Daily photo by John Godbey
All kinds of gelato flavors can be mixed up at this new Decatur shop. Top, from left, are banana cream, strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, raspberry truffle and pink grapefruit; on the bottom are cookies and cream, vanilla, lemon, chocolate, apple and coconut.

New sweet treat
2 scoop up business in Decatur with gelato

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

What cool treat gives you true fruity or nutty or chocolate flavors?

Gelato — and now it's being made in Decatur.

Whether you crave a sweet treat, a cool dessert or a comfort food, you can check out this Italian version of ice cream at The Daily Brew, where gelato is being made and served.

At first glance, you might not realize that this new coffee shop in Mallard Village at Alabama 67 and Indian Hills Road Southeast entices families and children with gelato, along with offering all types of coffee-based drinks and sandwiches.

"Ice cream is a comfort food," said manager Carolyn Celaya, and so is its Italian cousin, gelato.

But this isn't like a purchased tub of ice cream scooped into cones on request. All kinds of yummy flavors of gelato are made in a batch freezer right there, from fruity to nutty to basic vanilla and chocolate.

"Gelato is a newer market, especially in the Southeast," said Celaya.

There are more gelaterias in the Northeast. Around here, most gelato and ice cream products are consumed in the afternoon, "but in Italy they eat gelato for breakfast," she said.

"People really appreciate the fact that gelato has less than 10 percent butterfat, while traditional ice cream has 18 to 26 percent butterfat. They use cream, while we use whole milk, without compromising the flavor or density."

She said ice cream manufacturers inject air into their ice cream, and that doubles the amount, but may change the quality.

"No air is added to gelato, so the result is a higher quality product, with a richer, creamier taste," said Celaya.

Also, gelato is less solidly frozen and served at temperatures slightly warmer than ice cream, "so you can really taste the flavors," she said, while ice cream is sometimes so cold that the flavor can't be savored.

Owner Jenny McLeroy said they can mix whatever flavors they want, using the gel base imported from Italy via a distributor in North Carolina. They mix it with a stabilizer and add various flavorings and sometimes fresh fruit before freezing.

The robust flavor can be savored in such tantalizing varieties as pink grapefruit, peach mango, lemon, raspberry, banana cream, strawberry, pineapple, apple, watermelon and more. They don't make every flavor every day, but offer plenty of choices and vary them from day to day.

Cookies and Cream shows up regularly, but they also try to keep sugar-free chocolate gelato on hand, They can whip up all kinds of nut-flavored varieties, such as pistachio, macadamia and hazelnut. Call in a request and they'll come up with soy-based gelato for the lactose intolerant.

They get ideas from watching the gelato chefs at trade shows, who create a dessert called spaghetti ice and decorate with ribbons of white chocolate. Sometimes McLeroy and Celaya top their creations with fruits or fruit purees, or they may use Gran Stracciatella Reale, a chocolate topping that hardens over the gelato. Their most popular type now is raspberry truffle gelato, topped with chocolate.

McLeroy said to stay true to gelato's Italian roots, they serve it up in Italian-style colorful plastic cups with "spades," which are flatter versions of spoons. Cones are available, too.

Prices are $1.25 for a kiddie cone, $2.50 for small, $3.25 for medium, $3.75 for large and $5.95 for a take-home pint.

The two women quietly opened The Daily Brew a couple of months ago in the former Casual Gourmet location in Mallard Village (Suite E at 2941 Point Mallard Parkway, or Highway 67). They've been experimenting with a 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule but plan to expand their hours and be open more weekend and evening hours now that school has started, and especially after football games. Call ahead, 355-0330, to check days and hours.

An entertainment corner is ready and waiting for the soft rock, jazz, fiddle, bluegrass and other music they plan, as well as authors. They will open for special events, too, and catering is offered. "We have an espresso machine we can take on the road," said Celaya.

Sandwiches are on the summer menu, along with gelato and beverages. For fall and winter, they plan to offer "dynamite" homemade soups; homemade baked items such as scones, muffins, breads, quiche, dessert bars and brownies; and seasonal ingredients such as roast turkey sandwiches paired with cream cheese and cranberries.

They expect the gelato to remain popular all year, but seasonal flavors will be added: pumpkin pie in the fall and peppermint gelato and eggnog gelato — made with eggnog instead of milk — for the Christmas holidays.

Valley residents like gelato

Gelato is in the big cities, in the slick magazines and on the Food Network, and now Tennessee Valley residents are getting in on the trend.

“Once we get people to try our gelato, they like it,” said The Daily Brew manager Carolyn Celaya.

Dan Price, a regular for gelato at The Daily Brew, said he didn’t know it could get any better than the lemon and strawberry gelato, “but it did when I tasted pink grapefruit.

“I like exotic flavors, and you can find those flavors in gelatos,” he said.

“I watch a lot of Food Network TV shows, and I never see foodies eating ice cream — they’re always at a gelato shop,” said Price.

Sherri McConnell and friends were enjoying a variety at another table.

“Gelato has a very strong, clear fruit flavor. It doesn’t just taste like strawberry; it is strawberry,” said McConnell.

Sarah Patterson, 18, said she liked the texture.

“It’s really smooth,” she said of her chocolate gelato.

Rose Patterson, 8, tried Cookies and Cream.

“It’s delicious; it’s more like a milkshake,” she said.

Ted Koelln stayed with basic chocolate gelato.

“I know what I like, and it’s chocolate. And this was wonderful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Natalie Bennett loves the coffee drinks and the company. “I had Almond Joy Euphoria, and it was euphoric.

“I’ve had one every morning for a week now — the no-fat, no-sugar versions — I had the benefit of three shots of espresso with no guilt and got enough energy to last until 4 p.m. This is my new hangout,” she said.

Patrice Stewart

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