Dessert Comes First

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Magnum White King

Gelato Is Not Ice Cream, It’s Better: 4 Reasons Why

posted by in Food Purveyors, Home Bakers


It’s an Italian chef who sets me straight on the incontrovertible fact that gelato is NOT ice cream. As Maurizio Gibillini, chef-owner of Pagliacci at the Podium, Maurizio in Salcedo Village, and Gelatone in Greenbelt tells me, “Gelato is gelato and ice cream is ice cream. They are two very different things.” He wrinkles his nose, as if to prove his point and then adds, “The flavor in gelato comes out because of the composition of the ingredients, the harmony of the ingredients. The flavor is not just in your mouth, but also in your throat.”

Gelato, which literally means “frozen” is the Italian word for ice cream. The Italian specialty has been around since the late 16th century with a history that’s complicated and at times obscure, but its invention is credited to Bernardo Buontalenti, the great Italian Renaissance artist for the court of Francesco de’ Medici in 1565.

Manila’s new disciples of gelato are Marilyn and Gwen Dee, sisters and co-owners of Angelati Italia. Currently available by order only and served in select establishments, it’s a product of inspiration galvanized by the gelaterias the pair saw in their travels. To them, it made sense that with Manila’s hot weather and Filipinos’ inherent love for Italian food, gelato would be embraced too. As for that clever twist on the words ‘angel’ and ‘gelato’, Gwen says, “Angelati Italia is actually the brand of our gelato. Angelati is a coined word from Angel and Gelati (plural of gelato) that we have come up with. We wanted to use Angel to exude the angelic and heavenly side of our gelato, which is low-fat, almost sinless, and good for everyone. Italia is used to show the Italian authenticity of our gelato.”

Deciding to go to the source, Marilyn and Gwen took a crash course in gelato-making in Italy. For three weeks, they trained under a gelato-maker and gelateria-owner. “It wasn’t as simple as we thought,” recollects Gwen.“The training involved knowledge on gelato, history of gelato and the technicalities of producing gelato.” To keep them sharp, the sisters’ Italian mentor visits them regularly (in Manila) to see how they’re doing.

blueberry cheesecake gelato

Difference #1: Small batches
There are several differences between gelato and ice cream. Consider commercial ice cream as we know it, those various tubs that we pick up in the supermarket chillers. Those are made in large batches and kept frozen for long periods of time. On the other hand, the best gelato is made daily in small batches. If frozen too far ahead, gelato loses the silkiness that sets it apart from mere ice cream.

Angelati Italia’s Blueberry Cheesecake gelato illustrates this point beautifully. As anyone who’s worked with blueberries as an ingredient knows, the luscious berries need to be handled with utmost care as they have a propensity to make whatever they’re mixed in with into an eerie shade of magenta – or mildew green, if you’re terribly unlucky. This particular gelato however is gently swirled into the frozen mixture, causing the berries to ooze their proper purple. It’s creamy and sweet, resulting in the most elegant of gelato styles.

Nutella gelato with a cookie

Difference #2: Less or no overrun
Air, of course, increases the volume – overrun – of any frozen dessert, a fact that manufacturers take full advantage of to produce and sell more of their product. Even a better-quality ice cream might have an overrun of as much as 50%. In contrast, traditionally-made gelato should contain under 20% overrun or 10% air. Less overrun results in a denser, creamier texture than that of ice cream, despite the lower butterfat content. (Butterfat are the fatty particles in milk that are separated out to make cream. The higher the milkfat content, the richer the product.) Most premium ice creams have a butterfat content of 15-18%; gelato’s butterfat content normally runs from 4-14%. (A caveat: while gelato’s lower butterfat content might make it seem like a “healthier” treat, it isn’t something you can blithely pig out on.)

My benchmark for good flavor when I’m eating gelato is the hazelnut or nocciola. Italians have an unrepentant love affair with it and when mixed with chocolate (cioccolato), you get gianduja, which is what Angelati Italia’s Nutella Choco Wafer is. Gradations of chocolate descend into nuances of hazelnut, their harmony interrupted only by what could be the crispness of a chocolate wafer. I say, “what could be…” because this gelato’s stellar quality is marred by the sogginess of its wafer. Perhaps the wafers should be frozen before being incorporated into the gelato mixture that should ideally be allowed to chill for a few hours beforehand.


Difference #3: Higher temp
While ice cream can be stored at arctic temperatures down to -23°C, gelato is kept at a warm(er) -13°C. Its density requires a slightly higher serving temperature, that perfect point between firm but not hard, soft but not meltingly so. At most, you won’t wrench your wrist trying to get that first scoop. Ice creams made with alcohol such as Angelati Italia’s Heavenly Tiramisu naturally freeze to a softer consistency and are typically spoon-able directly from the freezer.

A traditional tiramisu is a harmony of coffee, Marsala wine, mascarpone, and chocolate. Gwen tells me that the alcohol used in their Tiramisu gelato is rum. Of the four flavors I’ve tried, this is the one that I liked the least. Once in the mouth, the coffee is run over by the brunt force of the rum. The cocoa powder that’s attractively sifted over the gelato is an attractive touch but is no match for that alcohol attack. So I make a café affogato instead, and pour some fresh espresso over the Tiramisu gelato.

pistachio gelato

Difference #4: The freshest ingredients
A key difference between ice cream and gelato is that gelato is most often made
just from milk. That’s why it has less (butter)fat than ice cream, but you’d never guess that because of its inherent creaminess. Gelato recipes usually include more egg yolks, more milk and less cream. It actually has less fat than regular ice cream, but gelato’s low overrun makes for an extremely dense, rich and creamy treat. In fact, most flavorings are done away with (in gelato) in preference for real ingredients like nuts, chocolate, fruits, liqueurs – all of which aren’t overwhelmed by cream. That’s why it’s customary for a good-quality gelato to have a heightened, truer flavor.

If there is one flavor of Angelati Italia that you must try, I exhort you to choose the Pure Pistachio. True to its name, it’s a sensual overdrive where smooth meets creamy, silky rides on velvety, all cruising along on overtones of pistachio. There are no nuts here, no stray bits of it that will mar this gelato’s exquisite body. I taste the pistachio through and through without feeling a hint of it on my tongue. It’s a haunting seduction for the mouth. In a word, outstanding.

4 flavors of (almost melting) gelato
4 flavors of (almost melting) gelato

By tradition, gelato is produced in flavors associated with Italy, where it originated. Limone (lemon), cappuccino, vaniglia (vanilla), and lampone (raspberry) among others, are standbys at Angelati Italia. But some of their gelati have distinct twists, marks of their creators. “We also created our own signature flavors apart from the usual,” says Gwen. “Choco Banana Peanut Butter, Kibana which is a combination of kiwi and banana, Snickers, Chocolates & Cereals.”

Angelati Italia
(632) 562-2217 / 5590316 (office hours)
P450-P550/liter depending on flavor

31 Responses to “Gelato Is Not Ice Cream, It’s Better: 4 Reasons Why”

  • Angelati is really good authentic Italian gelato!!! I love Chocolate and Hazelnut!!! =)


  • If Lori says it’s good! It’s really good! I tasted the Kibana, Choco Banana Peanut Butter, and Lemon! I loved it all! Nice pics by the way Lori! Love your work! Congrats also to Angelati Italia (Gwen and Mari)!


  • Maurizio was a good friend of the family’s. He was a chef at La Tasca in Makati where my dad was the GM. I met him years ago. Lemme guess, he tends to scratch you-know-where a lot, huh?


  • I wish I could make a wallpaper out of that last picture. So amazing!


  • On behalf of all home ice cream makers, thanks for answering the burning (or it it cooling?) question.

    Great post lori as always. :)


  • angelati is amazing! great job to the founders! i love the smooth texture and the “just right” sweet taste of caramel gelato.


  • Thanks for this very informative post Lori. I’ve known that gelato and ice cream were different, I just didn’t know exactly why until I read it here. I actually just returned from a trip to Europe where I had lots of gelato, and Angelati’s looks just as delicious.


  • Gelato is the generic Italian word for ice cream, but in this case I reckon that Sig. Gibillini is referring that most gelati in Italy is the artigianale (artisan) type, and not the mass-produced commercial ones. It is indeed denser, since less air is incorporated, and more flavoursome, having atleast 50% fruit (if it’s the fruity sort).

    Gelato is also translated as eis in German, and glace in French, helado in Spanish, which all translates in “ice cream” in English. However, using the Italian lexicon “gelato”, and the other European ones which have a sophisticated culinary culture, implies and connotes to the artisan-made ones.

    Most gelato-making training courses are in Italy are free, specially if you buy the gelato machinery, wherein you’re taken as an psuedo-apprendistato (apprentice).


  • I met Maurizio about 10 years ago when he was selling his ice cream in Boracay and we were both residents of the island. My morning ritual was to walk over to his resto and have some fresh bread he baked straight from the oven, then again in the afternoons for a scoop of baccio ice cream. Yum! Love your blog…


  • I just ordered cherry vanilla last week and it was so good!! so smooth and flavorful, even as it melts! so different with the other so called gelato in the market!


  • Great post, Lori! I’m a gelato novice and my fave flavor is biscotti and amaretto. I have yet to try Angelati but theirs look really yummy!


  • Lovely post about the best food in the world. I tried affrogato with the choc and hazelnut, and if that’s not the best way to get high on caffeine, I don’t know what is.

    Have you tried frozen custard? I recently learned about this dessert from SeriousEats. Wonder how frozen custard compares with gelato.


  • Hi Lori, This is my first post in your site. I’m curious which establishments sell Angelati Italia gelato. Hope you can post it. Have you tried gelato at Amici de Don Bosco? The Toblerone gelato is really good. =) More power to your site. Reading it is my way of “de-stressing” from work.


  • Angelati Italia is available in Cantinetta in Rockwell, Cantinetta along Pasong Tamo Ext., Nuccio’s Pizzeria via Montenapoleone along Jupiter Street, Prioes Cafe in Fernwood, Caffe Caruso along Nicanor Garcia, etc. They are served in the restos by the scoop : )


  • Angelati is the bes! Its so good, i’m in love with it!


  • Angelati gelato, and gelato is very nice stuff, but I’m not sure I agree that “Gelato is Not Ice Cream”. In fact I would say that “gelato” is ice cream, or at least the line between the two is very thin and at best, very blurry. The purported difference I think is really more marketing and perhaps, hype.

    Many good ice creams have the “differences” which you state exist between “ice cream” and “gelato”, including the fact that they were made in small batches, has low overrun, high ingredients and more moderate storage temperatures. As for the amount of milk fat in the product, the percentages are not as clearly divided as 4-14% for “gelato” and 15-18% for ice-cream. To tell the truth, there are great amount of overlap between the two. While you do see milk fat as low as 4% for some gelato most of them hover closer to around 10%, a quantity not uncommon with many premium low-fat ice-creams.

    Sure, there is a craft and history behind gelato. And perhaps the region of it’s origin will create a slightly different product. Just like american bread and italian bread will taste different, so would american ice cream and italian ice cream, or in this case “gelato”. Any differences between “gelato” and “ice cream” if anything are just regional variations. Gelato is just ice cream.


  • Is Gelato better than cow’s milk ice cream? Probably. But is it better than goat milk ice cream? I think not. I only eat Laloo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream because it is better for you and tastes the same as moo milk desserts. Check it out at – you can thank me later for the recommendation!


  • I did a project in my marketing class on why Gelato was more expensive than regular ice cream. And this website was awesome! Its just too bad im in Utah and cant experience your spot. Thanks! :)


  • i recently visited Angelati’s kiosk in SM Megamall. tries the Chocolates and Cereals and the Mascarpone Crumble flavors (I made two visits, actually). Loved them both. Being a chocoholic, I’m partial to the chocolate ice cream, but I loved the smooth creaminess of the other ice cream. It was cheesy-salty sweet, and the crumble (more of a brittle with nuts I can’t identify) added zing to it. Will be back for more!


  • I have recently ate the gelato in Angelati’s and after reading this article, i must say that i am a bit disappointed. i have gone to both France and Italy to study how to make gelato and how to look for good gelato and i say this isnt one of them. first of all the gelato in Angelati has a weird texture and i can only take so much. if i make my own gelato or eat the ones in Italy, i can keep eating them without hurting my throat. maybe because the gelato in Angelati’s is mass produced and loss the home made touch which gelato is all about. second of all their gelato stand is completely useless, a waste of rental space i must say. a lot of table room which is not used and they do not even make the ice cream in the spot. a waste i must say for the big space that they rent in megamall. if your going to open up a gelateria, DO IT GOOD!! dont make it hard for people who actually want to open up their own GELATO shop who actually has good GELATO!!


  • delicious!


  • is there a minimum order ?


  • Where is that Angelati in Megamall? Been looking for a gelateria here in manila but so far i still cannot get the taste of what i tasted in france & italy. Maybe someone can tell me other gelaterias. Thanx.


  • hey
    thanks for the read, learned a lot
    but can you send me some more info on gelato because my boss is trying to open a place in nyc


  • Very nice, I’d pick gelato over ice cream any day :D


  • I do like your posting !!


  • Hey I’m looking at doing a gelato course in Europe, any suggestions?? Need to know ASAP!


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