Only a few months ago the gelateria Gusta opened its doors in Rome’s Monteverde neighborhood. Claudia Panichi, who was working both as a sociologist and a journalist, had always nurtured the desire to open a gelato shop, and finally a few years ago she began dedicating all of her energy to pursuing this goal. Following a number of work experiences both in Italy and abroad with chefs from various food and beverage establishments, she began studying and working next to master gelato makers, including her aunt who made an exceptional zabaione. It was in the kitchen that her passion for the art of making artisanal gelato was born.
When the time came for Gusta to open on July 12th, the owner had perfected her gelato, which she describes as “a delicious, joyful and perfect food”. When we spoke with Claudia recently, she told us “it is our goal to produce good, natural and fresh gelato”. “We follow simple, healthy and tried and true recipes”, she continued, “so that we can deliver a flavorful, nutritional product to everyone”. In fact, Claudia and her staff at Gusta focus on the importance and origin of raw materials, their ingredients’ taste and smell and nutritional properties, as well as making interesting and innovative combinations.
Casa Mia: As one of many gelaterias in the city, tell us about what makes Gusta unique?
Claudia Panichi: Gusta wants to find its place as a small but productive laboratory of true Italian gelato. We are exclusively dedicated to bringing authentic goodness to everyone. We are not interested in becoming a part of a franchise or any other large chains present in Rome. We are a simple and independent shop that produces a number of flavors of gelato in front of the eyes of its dedicated customers. Together we value genuine, fresh and tasty gelato.
CM: There is a “gelato renaissance” taking place all over Italy, especially Rome. Can you describe some modern gelato trends and describe how your gelateria fits into these trends?
CP: Today gelato indeed has gained a kind of “cult” following and its commercial resale has spread across Rome like wildfire. Many stories and myths have been created around this product. We focus on the essence of the product. We let the gelato speak for itself. I am not interested in creating myths around our gelato so that we attract curious clients. Instead I concentrate on creating a product, which is a pleasure for the palate and for the mind. I strive to produce a perfect and healthy food, which is made according to age-old recipes and where all of the details are covered from A to Z.
Gelato must be enjoyable and therefore it must be prepared with the right balance of high-quality, Italian ingredients with a certificate of origin and without preservatives, additives or colors.
Among the many, many “artisanal” gelaterias, which have opened in Rome in recent years, Gusta would like to differentiate itself because it strives to make simply delicious and natural gelato. We want to bring a smile to those who enter our store. We don’t want to tell you with giant posters how good our gelato is, but rather satisfy our customers when they try our delicious gelato.
CM: Why is quality gelato so important to your vision for Gusta?
CP: An excellent gelato doesn’t need to have a ton of advertising and customers don’t need to be tricked into eating it. Its goodness can be tested on the tongue. When a gelato’s creaminess is accompanied by sweetness and when its color comes from Mother Nature, the raw materials shine. We use fresh, high-quality whole milk, cream straight from the pastures of Lazio, seasonal fruit and nuts, fructose, and both white and raw sugar.
CM: What makes your gelato “natural”?
CP: The gelato at Gusta is natural because it does not come from packaged mixes, mass prepared in a factory. All of our gelato is made in a small open kitchen visible to the public. We purchase certified products. Nothing is frozen, pre-packaged or pre-made in another location. Every day our products are made according to this simple, natural process: they are cooked or pasteurized, then mixed and whipped together in a freezer.
Making good gelato doesn’t require magic but rather simple recipes, a lot of hard work and quality ingredients. You have to invest time and money in excellent raw materials in order to come up with an extremely fresh and genuine product every day.
CM: What are your most popular flavors?
CP: Real Sicilian pistachio without artificial coloring, made with 100% natural, salted pistachios from the Mediterranean. Among our other flavors, we have salted peanut; zabaione made with Florio Marsala and free-range eggs; traditional egg cream; dark chocolate; Italian coffee and zuppa inglese. We also have a “Gusta” flavor which is mascarpone gelato with almond pralines with honey.
All of our fruit flavors are made with seasonal fruit, water and sugar. We make genuine fruit purees with the minimum amount possible of sucrose, so that we can preserve the true and full flavor of the ingredients in the gelato.
At Gusta we also cater to those who are intolerant or do not love milk or animal products. Our vegan flavors include: dark chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, etc. We also make smoothies and milk shakes. And we make our own plain yogurt gelato, as well as homemade crepes made-to-order. Clients can choose their own filling for the crepes.
CM: Why have you decided to use the traditional “carapine” (traditional aluminum containers)?
CP: Gusta uses “carapine” because these cylindrical wells are the ideal containers for a true artisanal, quality gelato. Gelato was kept this way fifty years ago. Only “carapine” allow for perfect storage, since they do not cause oxidization. Thus the gelato is sealed in the “carapine” and covered. Our counter is equipped with “a glicole” technology that maintains the same freezing temperature on all levels. There is no better way to store gelato which, according to Gusta philosophy, must be not only good to eat but pleasant to look at!
CM: Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
CP: The staff at Gusta awaits you with a smile. We will be happy to tell you the story of our fresh and natural gelato!
Piazzale Enrico Dunant 19, Rome
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11 am- Midnight
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All images © Gina Tringali
Elizabeth Simari teaches Italian culinary history and wine seminars at American universities across Rome. Also a sommelier, journalist and translator, she can often be found in the kitchen with a pile of Italian cookbooks and magazines, replicating traditional recipes or discovering little-known indigenous grapes at an enoteca in the Eternal City.