Nica Graziotto remembers travelling to Italy as a child and enjoying gelato at 9 a.m. while walking through the local markets.
“It’s milk based, not cream,” Graziotto says. “It’s not just dessert. They’ll have it three times a day. It’s awesome.
“We have the mentality here in North America that it’s a dessert. It’s not just a dessert. Because it’s all natural and it’s made with real ingredients and it’s milk based, it fits nicely into our food group.”
Graziotto is finding out that North Americans—especially those in the Okanagan—love their gelato, too. She and her husband, Rob, started Artisto Gelato five years ago in Kelowna, and the business has done nothing but grow since. Sysco distributes their fresh, natural product across B.C., they have a food truck situated at Kelowna’s Stuart Park all summer long with a second truck targeted to go mobile next summer, and they have two portable gelato cases that can be rented for any special occasion.
“I’ve just been passionate about gelato and sorbetto since I was a kid,” Rob says. “Both my wife and I are first-generation Canadians. Our parents immigrated from Italy, so we got exposed to it at a young age, travelling back to Europe for vacations and so forth and really didn’t just feel like there was anyone in the Okanagan producing that product.”
Their Artisto Gelato production facility on Highway 97 churns out small, handmade batches, and their truck at Stuart Park, which is there from May 15 to Sept. 15, also offers freshly grilled panini, pizza and cold Italian drinks. They also have a vegan offering and work with chefs to produce customized gelato.
Artisto Gelato uses local milk, and Okanagan and B.C. fruits when the latter are in season. The rest of the ingredients are imported from Italy to keep that traditional flair. All of their products are gluten free, and their sorbetto is dairy-free, lactose-free and fat-free, which means few people have dietary restrictions that would prevent them from enjoying it.
“We use finer, all-natural ingredients where possible,” Rob says. “So when you’re looking at some of our chocolates, we use the finest chocolate from Europe when we create it. When you look at some of our nut products like pistachio and hazelnut, the finest pistachio and hazelnut pastes that we can source direct from Italy.
“On the sorbetto side, on our fruit flavours, we don’t use any synthetic flavouring or colourants. It’s pure fruit coupled with simple ingredients like sugar and water to create the finished product.”
It truly has become a family business, as daughters Isabella, 17, and Daniella, 14, are now involved in one way or another. Now that Isabella has her driver’s licence, she’s able to make deliveries and drive the mobile truck.
The toughest question Rob had to answer about the business was which flavour he would choose if he were stranded on a desert island and could have just one.
“I’d have to say lemon sorbetto. It’s very refreshing,” Rob says. “We use real squeezed lemon juice—I just picked up a load of lemons this morning—it’s not some pasteurized lemon product. It’s real hand-squeezed juice, sugar, water, and we use rice solids to hold it all together. So it’s all natural. It’s fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free. It’s a great option.
“We encourage people to try it as a healthier, natural option to American-style ice cream or commercial products that are full of emulsifiers and preservatives and artificial colourants or flavourings. Yeah, you can buy chocolate syrup and throw it in and mix it with some milk and sugar and you’ll get a product, but you just won’t get the rich, dense quality of it.”
Learn more about Artisto Gelato on their website.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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