Dolcetti Gelato making Newpark sweeter
Gelato is the new black.
It’s leaner, more flavorful and smoother than ice cream. Gelato, sorbetto and Italian ice stands are popping up all over the Wasatch front.
"No one’s opening new ice cream places; why eat ice cream when you can have gelato?" said Mark England, co-owner of the new Dolcetti Gelato store under the Newpark Hotel in Kimball Junction.
Mark and his wife, Elizabeth, were among the first to bring the frozen treats to Utah. They started selling Italian ice at the Salt Lake City Farmer’s Market four years ago, and still have one of the most popular stalls there today.
A year and a half ago they opened their first store in Sugar House, and in July opened in Newpark Plaza to provide a dessert option to shoppers in the area.
The Englands were both artists before their gelato days. Mark is a well-known painter in Salt Lake City. He attributes their commitment to quality to that fact.
When they started making gelato, they bought mixes and poured them into a machine. Later they learned that gelato is its own form of culinary art and got excited about previously unimagined possibilities. Elizabeth began attending training in California and New York and both traveled to Italy to learn from the best.
As the market has blossomed, the Englands have chosen to carve out a niche by making "artisan" gelato. It’s not only all-natural with no mixes, but uses only the finest ingredients from around the world including Sicily and Madagascar. Their recipes have been inspired by and critiqued by an expert from Italy they contracted to teach them the trade.
"We know that if we don’t make it as good as in Italy, when people come back from there they’ll be disappointed," Mark said. "People have this intense connection to it. They come in and go ‘gaga’ and can be incredibly picky."
The Englands chose Kimball Junction to attract that market, Elizabeth said. Park City residents are a sophisticated crowd and many have traveled to Italy. There are also many Italians living around here. Their approval is quintessential to the Englands.
"Italians come in and they talk about how authentic the gelato is. They say they haven’t tasted it like that in years. For us, it’s very satisfying, but terrifying," Mark said.
The right ingredients are key, he said, since the way gelato and sorbetto are made allows the flavors to come through easier.
Because ice cream uses more cream, the butter fat coats the tongue and hides the flavor. Gelato has a third of the fat, and sorbetto is dairy-free. Ice cream is also half air, while Italian frozen desserts are only 10 percent air. This results in an explosion of flavor in the mouth. It’s also stored at a lower temperature, allowing it to melt in the mouth faster.
The Englands use three different types of chocolate, one from Madagascar and two from Italy. Their mint extract and fig paste are from Sicily. The French vanilla and coffee is also from Madagascar. Their recipe for lemon sorbetto is from an Italian maker who had to coax it out of a master over four years.
"Once you understand the math behind what makes recipes work, you can go from there and make pretty much any flavor," Elizabeth said.
Making gelato is physical work. Mark mixes ingredients with a two-foot tall mixer that looks like a jack-hammer before pouring it into the top of a $50,000 Bravo Trittico machine for pasteurization. After a few minutes he turns a knob and drops the hot mixture into the mixing drum for freezing. About 30 minutes later, Mark grabs a serving pail and a spatula and on his hands and knees scoops the dessert out of the mixing drum and into the pail. If he’s making a swirl, he mixes in the flavor by hand.
The Bravo Trittico mixing drum is lined by coils that freeze the liquid quickly but churns it slowly, creating the smooth and airless texture.
Brittany Ball started work at the store just a few days ago. She came in with a friend two weeks ago and loved the gelato and the atmosphere.
"Other people have good gelato, but here they’re artisans. I can definitely taste it more," she said. "When people have never had it before, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this?’ My favorite part of working here is the customers who are so nice and they love it."
The Englands have a room in the back for meetings and hope to make their store a place where people come for parties, book clubs and eventually Italian movie nights.
They also have an Italian breakfast menu featuring crepes and espressos, Elizabeth said.
1476 West Newpark Blvd.
7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays
Open until 11 p.m. weekends
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