A little taste of Italy is exactly what Gelato Gilberto owners Justin and Kristin Gilbert offer their customers at their recently opened shop in The Summit shopping center. Italian pop music echoes off the pistachio-green and coffee-brown walls as customers choose among as many as 18 flavors of gelato or sorbet. Kristen manages marketing and other duties while Justin makes most of the gelato, using techniques he picked up on a trip to the old country after leaving a London-based job with Papa John’s International. We asked him to give us the scoop on his newfound passion.
Q. From pizza to gelato — sounds like an ethnically consistent career change.
A. Papa John’s treated me very nicely at the end of the job. The position was eliminated, so I was able to take a little money from them and use some life savings to go to Italy to research the gelato business, using a lot of the experience I learned from Papa John’s. . . . Once the opening came up I thought that instead of the job market, I’d try my own idea.
Q. How does gelato differ from American ice cream?
A. In American ice cream, the overrun, or air, is at least 50 percent of the volume, which is not necessarily a knock on the quality of American ice cream; that’s just the American style. Italian ice cream, or gelato, has, at most, 30 percent overrun, resulting in a denser product, yet softer.
Q. Tell us about the strangest flavor you sampled in Italy?
A. I don’t know how wild it is because a lot of people are starting to sell it in Italy, but it’s Chocolate Pepper — a really dark chocolate with a real peppery finish, made with chile peppers. We’re not going to have it this summer, but we might get it in here later this year.
Q. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what flavor of gelato would you bring?
A. Can I have three? You get three in a cup: Yogurt; Chocolate Orange, which is one flavor; and Frutti Di Bosco, which is raspberries, blackberries and blueberries mixed together to make sorbet.