Is it ever too cold for ice cream? Honestly, it seems very hard to imagine a scenario in which a delicious, creamy scoop (or two…or three!) of icy cold sweetness doesn’t sound like the perfect treat. Whether you’ve worked hard all week (or day), just finished a terrific workout (it’s called balance, right?!) or the mood just strikes, ice cream is a fabulous choice for a little indulgence, and one most folks can agree on. That is, until you meet ice creams’, intense, delicious and downright beautiful Italian cousin, gelato.
By now, gelato is not a totally unfamiliar word in people’s vocabularies stateside, but many have not actually tried the heavenly concoction, or if they have, they’ve usually purchased it from a grocer’s freezer aisle (no disrespect, but pre-packaged is never as good as fresh, no matter what food you’re talking about). Lucky for us Seattle-ites, we have authentic, amazing, life-changing Italian gelato, homemade, from scratch, DAILY, within reach, and for many Belltown-ers and city-dwellers, within walking distance.
Gelatiamo. The name alone indicates the deep love and passion for the art of gelato owner Maria brings to her craft. (if you can’t tell, it’s a combination of the word gelato and “ti amo”, Italian for “I Love You”) One taste of this frozen flavor symphony will have you hooked and likely, in love.
Located in a cozy corner space on 3rd and Union, nearby to Benaroya Hall and Tom Douglas’ Wild Ginger, Gelatiamo is a delightfully charming space, manned (or wo-manned) by an equally charming and delightful staff. You are welcomed upon entry with a ’hello’ and a smile warm enough to melt the frozen treats you came for by the lovely staff, eager to help you find your flavor. The environment is very warm and comforting, with a very European vibe, plenty of windows for wonderful natural light, accents of dark wood and charming black and white photographs of the owner hard at work gracing the walls. It’s a very soothing and welcoming space.
One look around the place will give the sweet-loving indecisive types among us anxiety- the choices are plentiful…and not limited to gelato. It seems Gelatiamo caters to almost any sweet tooth, offering fabulous baked goods baked in the Italian tradition, including many specialty Italian dessert favorites not common in most bakeries, along with their signature gelato-cakes (much more elegant and delicious than anything from carvel!), and of course, a wide array of gelato.
Every item they serve is handmade daily, from scratch, in house (you can even see the stairs leading down the where the magic happens) from the owners own recipes and recipes that have been in her family for generations. You can taste the years of work, time and dedication that have gone into perfecting not only her gelato, but her cannoli, available filled with traditional custard or chocolate, her Saint Honoré, a traditional Italian cake unlike any you’ll find most places stateside, and at holiday time, her renowned and acclaimed panettone.
Gelatiamos’ owner Maria Coassin began planting her roots in the Seattle food scene back in 1996 when she first opened Gelatiamos’ doors. The only member of her family to have left Italy, she comes from a long line of bakers, with her family having bakeries in northern Italy dating back over 200 years. As a youngster, she saw the demanding life of being a baker, especially the long hours and early mornings, and decided that life was not for her. After marrying an American and moving to the US, she eventually settled in Seattle, and decided it was time to bring her lifelong love of gelato with her.
She knew she had her work cut out for her. Gelato was still relatively unfamiliar to many in the US and what we did have available in the states, was not very good. Maria decided to travel back to Italy to learn the craft the best way possible, from the masters. She spent several months in Italy, taking classes and being mentored by gelato master Pino Scaringelle. It is thanks in no small part to Mr. Scaringelle that Maria does more than just ‘make gelato’, she creates recipes, which is vital to truly well done gelato.
The first winter she opened for business, her father came to visit, bringing with him several family recipes from their long-standing bakery business. Even though Maria insisted Gelatiamo was NOT a bakery, he decided to make some baked goods to sell, including what has now become their famous and hotly sought after panettone. Ever since, the baking component of the business stuck (and we should all be grateful for that!).
Today, Gelatiamo has been a staple of Seattle’s ever growing restaurant scene for 21 years. That’s 21 years of making and serving gelato, baked goods and expertly brewed coffee to Seattle’s increasingly discerning public. Maria is well known and hailed for her incredible baked goods and is considered a gelato master. She travels several times a year to teach others the art of crafting recipes and other essential skills to making truly exceptional gelato.
In 21 years, they’ve never moved, though their location on 3rd and Union has undergone some cosmetic changes in recent years, improving and maintaining the classic elegance of the space Maria has envisioned and established from the start, and transporting her guests, if only for a moment, back to her original home of Italy.
Gelatiamo has a little something for everyone and is truly a gem we in Seattle are lucky enough to claim. If you’ve ever wandered the busy streets of Seattle on a brisk March day and dreamed of that perfect trip to Italy (you know, the one you can’t quite afford yet), consider popping into Gelatiamo for a little something sweet and a perfectly brewed Café Latte. You’ll almost never know the difference.