Last week we sat down with Melanie Wolf, owner of Pompelmo Gelateria on High Street in Westerly. With their one year anniversary behind them, Wolf says this summer has proven to be much busier. I arrived one hour before opening to watch the gelato making process and see what goes into setting up a Gelateria. While I was there, Wolf served about fifteen to twenty customers before she was even open! In between prepping to open, serving customers and making gelato she was gracious enough to answer all my questions.
An Argentinian transplanted to Westerly, Wolf and her husband opened Pompelmo Gelateria last year after attending Gelato University in Italy. Wolf has since been back two times to continue educating herself on the latest gelato techniques. A great team, she says she and her husband help each other out and each take responsibility for knowing every job it takes to run the shop.
Gelato is much lighter than American ice cream as it is made primarily with milk and only a little cream. It is also not as cold, so you tend to taste the flavors before noticing the temperature. The best part? It has half the calories of ice cream so you can enjoy a little more than you might have. At Pompelmo Gelateria Wolf makes all the gelato using authentic Italian machinery and ingredients. As often as possible she uses fruit from local farms and some herbs right from her own garden. We especially love the care that goes into dishing out the gelato. Each dish is topped with a tiny waffle cone disc, also made in shop. They are served up with colorful tiny spoons in pastel colored containers. Sprinkles are also available making these little treats colorful and festive.
Each day you will find approximately twenty flavors in the case with extra flavors in the back. Gelato is made throughout the day as needed and no flavor sits in the case longer than forty-eight hours. Flavors change daily but some, like Cookie Monster, Pistachio and Chocolate Hazelnut, are local favorites and are consistently offered. Dark Chocolate Sorbet is also always on hand and is gluten free. Pompelmo Gelateria listens to their customers and has a place right in the shop for flavor suggestions. The latest to get put in the case was Blueberry yogurt gelato. With blueberries coming from Manfredi Farms, this particular gelato was visually stunning. My personal favorite is the strawberry basil sorbet which will be offered through Labor Day. Talk about refreshing flavor!
Wolf knows her recipes by heart, but says at first it was trial and error. She had to discover which products worked well together and provided the consistency that she was looking for. In the end she turned to what she learned at Gelato University and began importing many of her stabilizing products directly from Italy. This made all the difference and gave the gelato that authentic taste she was looking for.
Watching the gelato making process was extremely interesting. To begin, a milk and cream mixture ages for twenty-four hours in a special machine. This becomes the base for all the gelato flavors. Once this base is created the next step is to add specific flavors. This combination is processed through a machine that produces the gelato. Wolf expertly folds it out of the machine and into the chilled metal containers which are then placed in a blast freezer for ten minutes before going directly into the display case. She told me that the process (after creating the base) takes twenty minutes from start to finish. In between making flavors, every machine is cleaned out and then Wolf begins the entire process again until all the flavors are ready for display.
At the end of the day the gelato flavors that are almost gone but not quite are not thrown out. They are used to make gorgeous gelato pops covered in chocolate or to fill pretty cookies for an interesting take on an ice cream sandwich.
Pompelmo also offers more than just the in shop experience. With forty-eight hours notice you can select your favorite flavors for a gelato cake. The cakes are beautiful and make a fun change to the traditional birthday cake. They also cater parties, bridal showers, weddings and events with dished up gelato! With an authentic gelato cart what would be more fun? If you are a local business looking to add gelato to your menu you can contact Wolf for more information on collaborating.
With summer on its way out the hours at Pompelmo will slowly change to earlier closings. We are looking forward to trying the upcoming fall flavors such as apple cider, pumpkin spice and walnut fig. If you are looking for a change from ice cream stop in and give gelato a try. You will be so glad you did!
Westerly Food would like to thank Pompelmo Gelateria for sharing their photos of gelato cakes.
We would also like to thank all the customers who let us take photos of their orders that day!