Monday, July 27, 2009

coolato gelato on gay street = yum

When I was in college I lived and studied for a year in Venice, Italy. Italy is famous for its gelato, and I certainly ate a lot of it that year. Italy and America have absolutely nothing in common when it comes to portion sizes, and I used to get a small (piccolo) gelati with 2 or 3 flavors for about a dollar. It was a very small portion served in a colorful little plastic cup with a similarly small and cute plastic little spoon (in the shape of a shovel).

I ate gelati all over Italy that year, but my favorite came from a little stand in Campo Santa Margherita in Venice, which was very close to my school.

That was 10 years ago, and no American gelateria I tried had ever come close to replicating true Italian gelato. I was content with that. It's Italian, right, so Italy should do it best. That was until Coolato Gelato came along. It opened about a month ago on Gay Street between the Regal Riveria and Tennessee Theatres, and it is absolutely fabulous. I mean, it's really, really good.

Gelato tends to be less fattening than ice cream (because it's made with milk, not cream) and a lot denser. Coolato Gelato has done a great job of featuring traditional Italian flavors like pistachio, hazelnut and stracciatella (chocolate chip), and they've also been pretty creative with Americanized flavors. They've got a really yummy banana pudding flavor, for example. It is the closest to Italian gelato I've ever had in the States. Since gelato is so dense, it's a lot more filling than it may look. A small is plenty for me. Small and medium sizes allow you to choose 2 flavors, and the large allows for 3. My favorite combo so far is pistachio and spicy chocolate. Delicious.

Coolato Gelato also serves a variety of desserts other than gelato and some great looking panini and appetizer plates. I haven't had any of the food yet because I always want gelato when I go, but everything looks delicious.

Some of the staff members sing Opera, and they got those cute little plastic cups and shovel spoons straight from Italy. It's such a cute little gem and the gelato is delicious, so I really hope to see this place thrive.

Coolato Gelato:
524 S Gay St
Knoxville, TN 37902-1540

Addition: I was a third done with this while walking back to my office today before I remembered it might be a good idea to snap a photo. Pistacchio and nocciola (hazelnut). Yum.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've only been to Coolato once, but the flavor I got (Spicy Chocolate) did seem to be, well, creamy, certainly creamier than the gelato I have eaten in Europe. It was amazingly delicious though.

max. said...

I just tried their Mocha gelato and it was amazing. I got a couple of chocolaty chunks which were delicious.

I've also had gelato in Italy and Wales (yes,) and this was just as good if not better. Granted, I haven't been there in 3 years, but it is so good.

I'd check it out. I overheard one of the workers (maybe the co-owner) saying the pistachios came from between volcanic rocks in a tiny village in Italy. That means they must be good.

Wright said...

Nice review. Looking forward to trying it out.

blueeyedtawni said...

You know I've never had gelato.This sounds like a good time to try it now on a hot day :)

Todd said...

I've had a few paninis (served with delish antipasta) at Coolato, and they're just as good--if not better--than the excellent gelato.

B said...

i got the mint chocolate. it was good. can't wait to try more, but i'm afraid that i don't have a gelato kind of salary. i guess i'll have to stick to free rita's samplers. ha. jk.

Anonymous said...

I tried Coolato Gelato last weekend, and I agree, it's very good! But at over $4 for a small cup, I can't say that I'll be visiting very often. I expected the prices to be more reasonable than what I spent on gelato last year in southern Germany, where one could buy the same sized cup for around 1 euro 50.

I guess with Coolato, you are paying for location and uniqueness though.

Athomp said...

Regarding the price, no one at any business can hope to thrive very well on Gay street charging less than $3 bucks for any goods. Rent is sky high everywhere downtown.

em said...

I agree that the prices at Coolato do seem a bit high. But I think the cost is worth it. Like I said in my post, since gelato is so dense, you get a lot more than it looks like you're paying for. I have a hard time finishing the small size (oh believe me, I make it work). 4 dollars for a product that is expensive to make (it's expensive by nature of what it is and then they do use a lot of imported ingredients) is worth it to me. You're paying for quality.

Maybe Coolato will eventually join the (awesome) trend that all Knoxville restaurants and bars seem to follow: offer different specials on weekdays. Something like that could really help them (and their patrons) out. A gelato costs about the same as a drink with friends (plus tip), so on some days I just choose gelato.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I do have to say that expensive is kind of a relative. You can get a cheeseburger at a fast food place for 99 cents, but it's a very artificial price that can only be obtained by subsidizing corn for feed, packing cows into factories and paying workers an unacceptable wage (no doubt hiring non-citizens and looking the other way in the process). Four bucks probably is a bit high, but once you consider what actually goes into getting producing and selling that gelato, it may be closer to a true cost than we think.

Robert said...

Let's all at least be thankful that it's two doors down from the movie theater - where four dollars for a snack is a steal.

Hopefully that can keep them afloat, so the rest of us dont have to feel quite as obligated to continually help keep the doors open.

Wax S. said...

Aw, shucks, plastic spoons??

em said...

It makes it authentic, Wax. That's exactly how it's served in Italy, with a cute, colorful shovel spoon.

Dixie said...

It was so wonderful to come across your blog while searching Coolato on the web. I am an employee at Coolato and maintain both the twitter and facebook fan page for the biz. I would invite you to follow us on twitter and fan us on facebook, we are planning on offering specials and online "coupons" to our twitter and facebook followers. Hopefully these special offers will help you and all of your friends feed your gelato cravings :) Thanks so much again for the wonderful write up!