A nostalgic summer treasure is the repetitive sound of an ice cream truck moseying down the street. It has the same beloved 30 bars, cups and pops and will always be synonymous with summer. Denver doesn’t have a whole lot roaming around, but what the Mile High lacks in roving ice cream trucks it makes up for in local ice cream shops. Sadly gelato never made its way into their ice chests – most likely because it isn’t technically frozen. But never the less, the city cultivates this cultural treat from Italy with each local shop putting its own spin on the refreshing treat.
The difference between gelato and ice cream isn’t the most obvious at first glance. Ice cream is made with a higher fat content than gelato. Additionally, gelato has a smoother consistency because less air is whipped into it. Finally, gelato has to be made almost daily because it’s served at a low temperature but never frozen. While ice cream will always be a worthy summer treat, gelato is another excellent option for cooling off on a warm day – so consider checking out one of these five local gelato spots next time you find yourself craving something cold and sweet.
Where: 4044 E 8th Pl, Denver | 535 16th St Mall, Denver, Co 80202 | Pints sold in Whole Foods
The Lowdown: Since gelato isn’t native to Colorado, it’s no surprise that Owner Bryce Licht found his love for this dessert while studying abroad in Venice. He returned home with Guilia, his now-wife, and the idea for a gelateria. With Guilia’s roots as a guide, the flavors have depth and authenticity – rejecting artificial additives and only sourcing local dairy. Flavors allow making the menu include a rich gooey butter cake that has chunks of fluffy cake and with sticky caramel weaved throughout. Lavender poppy seed pops with a vibrant purple hue, but every Italian knows the simplistic pistachio must make the board. Diary-free options often debate between coconut or cashew milk bases but their midnight chocolate only requires water for a final deep cocoa flavor. A bright nod to summer can be found in the dairy-free limoncello with a coconut base. The lightness of gelato allows the texture to remain similar regardless of its base. As seasons turn flavors rotate in with their current summer series including s’mores, salted honey cake, peach crumble, and Mexican coffee with fudge. Gelato Boy takes inspiration from classic flavors, beloved memories, new adventures and Colorado favorites.
Where: 63 N Quebec St, Denver
The Lowdown: This is a new face for Denver, but a Colorado veteran as the first I Scream Gelato began in Breckenridge. Co-founders Nadav Abergel and Yuval Fuchs don’t reminisce about walking down the streets of Italy with gelato in hand. They know it from being an Israeli staple. A market saturated with ice cream inspired bringing a piece of home with them when they moved to the states. The experience at I Scream Gelato is a mash-up of many cultures. The store is an Americanized, Instagramable wonderland with a light-up sign posted on the wall for pictures with flowers bursting from behind it. Their traditional Italian-influenced flavors include mecraph – a flavor that combines white chocolate and coconut – orange with dark chocolate and Buena Bars – hazelnut cream chocolate bars with wafers. A cup is customary, but bubble waffles are their specialty. This Hong Kong take on the waffle cone has the fluffiness of a Belgium waffle, which I Scream Gelato also serves. The cones take on flavors like strawberry, chocolate and matcha. There is no shortage of imagination and innovation here. A final tribute to Italy lives in the affogato – a scoop of gelato with an espresso poured over the top. A buzzing version of a float, the gelato melts making it into a latte. This treat reaffirms I Scream Gelato’s love for Colorado by using a local brand of coffee – Whiskey Barrel Coffee.
Where: 3455 S University Blvd, Englewood, CO, 80113 | 200 Quebec St Building 300 Unit 109, Denver | 4940 S Yosemite Suite E1, Greenwood Village, CO 80111
The Lowdown: Glacier collides both worlds by serving both ice cream and gelato to customers in south Denver. This family-owned business imparts that sense of care into each tub of gelato. Each morning begins with a fresh, small batch of housemade gelato to ensure quality and flavors make it onto every cone or inside every cup. The dipped waffle cones are an easy crowd-pleaser with the already fan-favorite cone getting an extra coating of chocolate or sprinkles to transform it into its own sundae of sorts. Rather than chocolate chips that are often intermingled in ice cream, the customary Italian way is weaving drizzled chocolate throughout. The cold gelato shocks the chocolate and makes bits of a chocolate shell form similar to shattering into a dipped cone. Known as Stracciatella with a vanilla base, Glacier offers coffee and mint as well. As community members, Glacier has supported those that continue to come back into the shop for more. The shop partners with local foundations for fundraisers, community events, award local students with academic achievements and even provide pup cups for shelter dogs. It’s easy to feel good after a taste of gelato but Glacier extends that feeling further.
Where: 1509 Park Central Dr, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
The Lowdown: Dean Barsness came to the gelato scene unconventionally after meeting the owner of Gelato & Co, a gelateria with multiple locations in Italy. An idea to bring this renowned gelato brand to the states connected the two. The number of places with fresh gelato is scarce in Colorado, making it an ideal location. Thus Barsness began building his sleek modern shop in Highlands Ranch. The fun accents decorating the polished room include drawings on the menu that change as quickly as the flavors do. They play around with American flavors like the cinnamon roll with a punch of cinnamon, and brownie batter, which tastes like sneaking a bite before they bake in the oven. However, with roots in Italy, Gelato & CO can’t stray too far from the flavors that built the shop like tiramisu and biscotti. But with innovation from the pastry team, pineapple and mint sorbet have become difficult to give up as well. A cup is what most come for, but after exploring the display case, customers often leave with more. The gelateria also tempts with shining macarons, flaky napoleon stacks and tarts. For more gelato there are cakes. Each switches off between fudge or fruity fillings and smooth gelato atop a base layer of freshly baked cake. The are also cake pops, which are perfect for a smaller celebration.
Where: 5094 Central Park Blvd, Denver, Co 80238
The Lowdown: The name might have given away its place on this list but Pozzetti has a true Italian soul. This family-owned business is located by Conservatory Green at Stapleton. The trek for this authentic house spun gelato is easier than to Italy. Pozzetti – a hidden gem – sit among chains but slowly gains more spotlight. The display box has an exciting assortment similar to a box of chocolates. The Amarena – a tart cherry – resembles the dark farmers’ market cherries. Some flavors blur the line between ice cream with chunks of cookie dough and Oreo floating throughout. The gelato spades take up generous portions of each creamy flavor for a serving that often overflows the bowl. Pozzetti’s most eye-catching element is the faucet of chocolate running right beside the toppings bar. Hopefully, Willa Wonka won’t need that back too soon. It coats cones and gelato alike with a chocolate-cracked crust. Pozzetti creates a complete cafe serving paninis with that crave-worthy crunchy exterior and the soft pillow bread warmed on the inside. Almost translucent slices of prosciutto top the sandwiches and mozzarella or provolone are the choices for cheese. The pepperiness of arugula replaces a sandwich’s typical lettuce. Instead of a soup and salad pick a panini and paddle of gelato.