Our quest for authentic Italian Gelato in America lead us to Ft. Lauderdale this weekend, and it fulfilled our greatest hopes! Owners of Gelato Dream and Ciao Café (right on the strip on Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd), Leonardo and Silvia Baldi are building a Gelato empire in the US and that is a good thing for all of us! They came to Ft. Lauderdale from Asti, Italy 5 years ago and opened their first Gelato stand – Gelato Dream. It was so popular that they had to open Ciao Café a mere 3 years later. Even though there are 2 locations now, we still had to stand in line – something I have never seen before and it boded well!
So what makes their Gelato stand out from the varieties we have sampled over the past year?
Well for one, Leonardo comes from a family of Gelato makers, making him a natural expert. Secondly, they make their Gelato, fresh daily, in-store from ingredients, many of which, they import straight from Italy. Thirdly, the service and the warm and wonderful personalities of Leonardo and Silvia really stood out. They took time out of their days to talk to us, answer our questions and tell us all about their adventures in Gelato, something we are so thankful for and really enjoyed. Fourth, the creamy texture is consistent with every flavor we sampled. When you put your spoon into the Gelato to scoop up a bite, there is a trail of gelato that links scoop to spoon as you pull it up towards your mouth, the hallmark of authentic Gelato. Lastly, they make all the traditional flavors you can expect to find at a Gelateria. I personally was in my own private bliss tasting the best Nocciola (Hazelnut) I have ever had, while Roberto was absolutely raving about his Pistacchio. Everything we tried was absolutely consistent with how Gelato in Italy tastes….and better!
The Baldi’s make 26 flavors of Gelato (milk-based) and Sorbetto (fruit based, no milk) daily. Leonardo’s favorites are the Tiramisu and the Coconut. The most popular flavors for customers are Fragola (Strawberry), White Vanilla with Oreo – their version of the Italian Stracciatella and of course, Chocolate.
We had such a wonderful experience at Gelato Dream; we had to go back the next day for more. With both of our trips and the friends we brought along, we were able to sample many of the offerings. Like I said, the Nocciola and Pistacchio were the best we ever had – full of the nutty flavor they represent. The coconut was creamy and had bits of real fruit throughout. I also tried the Mango Sorbetto which was sweet, tangy and refreshing. The chocolate was dense and full of dark chocolate flavor and the Panna Cotta was rich, creamy and full of cinnamon flavor. The Oreo Stracciatella was delightful – not too sweet and the texture was like velvet. It seems you cannot go wrong with any flavor you sample. All were beautifully simple and intensely flavorful. No toppings necessary here.
Lucky for us, we will soon be able to have the Baldi’s delicious Gelato in many other locations. As of this week, the Gelato served in every Volcano’s Coffee Bars will be the Baldi’s famous Gelato. There are many restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale and beyond, such as Chicago, the Millenium Mall in Orlando and other locations up and down the SE coast of the US which are already serving up this delicious treat.
Finally Roberto got an answer to his question of the missing Panna or fresh whipped cream. According to Leonardo, it is Americans. Americans apparently do not like whipped cream on their gelato because they feel it is too fattening. Instead, they prefer the whipped cream in a can. The reality of the situation is that fresh handmade whipped cream contains half the fat of the kind in the can – and it tastes so much better! The same can be said of Gelato vs. Ice Cream. Gelato has half the fat of regular ice cream, yet its richness can easily make it seem the opposite!
So Americans, we need to start a Gelato campaign! I implore you, ask your local Gelateria for fresh whipped cream, ban the canned stuff and eat more Gelato, because it is good for you and tastes much better than Ice Cream!
And when in Ft. Lauderdale go to Gelato Dream and Ciao Café, daily! You won’t regret your decision! We will certainly be back!
235 S. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd
411 S. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd