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Local Review: Prospect Park Gelato-Caramello

13 Jul

The question everyone is afraid to ask: What is gelato? The answer: An ambiguous sort of ice cream [generally] with lower butterfat content.

To properly examine this shop, let us first examine the area. Is this a place that will remind you of where you used to go with your friends after school years ago? No. Is this a place where everybody knows your name and there is always a smiling face; the dairy version of, “Cheers,” if you will? No.

Is this a place with snotty hipsters who over-enunciate all the wrong parts of words in a poor attempt to sound like they are not ordering from a store with all American speaking clientele and employees? Yes.

If you are uncomfortable with pretense, then you will have nothing against this store, it is a wonderful place with wonderful and friendly people behind the counter. The consumers, however, as in many adjoining establishments, are filled with pretense- among other things. You will hear people order “pawna coTTAH,” instead of, “panna cotta.” You will hear people order, “cho-koe-lawT,” instead of, “chocolate,” and you will hear people order “jay-lah-toe,” instead of, “gelato.”*

That being said and not to minimilise the discomfort of hipsters pretending that the trip through the storefront having turned them into Italian natives and transported them to Naples; the place is absolutely terrific.

The flavours are made in-store and are unique and delicious. There are classics like mint chip and chocolate as well as other more unique ones such as tiramisu, toblerone and even olive oil and corn, all made with authentic ingredients.

The ordering process consists of choosing the size desired upfront at the counter and then following the person behind the desk down to where the ice cream is to choose your flavours.

Not to call out any other overrated, underachieving establishments similar in neighbourhood and demographic, don’t think I mean say, Blue Marble Ice Cream, for example; but this place offers a punchcard which entitles you to free ice cream after 9 purchases, they will not refuse to take your order because they want to close early, a pint of gelato costs less than one minuscule soft serve and one root beer float with a single paltry scoop of vanilla ice cream and there seems to never be a big crowd.

The interior is clean and as mentioned before, but is worth emphasis, the staff are polite, friendly, cheerful and willing to deal with annoying clientele and difficult orders. Orders are expediently delivered to the customer in quite ample portions. All in all, despite any claims that convenience must be sacrificed for quality or vice-versa, this place proves that overall efficiency and quality can be succinctly combined to merge great experience and terrific products.

The Caffe Crunch and the Panna Cotta gelato are specifically worth mention. Caffe Crunch is not that much different than coffee ice cream, the true distinction is in the “crunch.” Bits of delicious hard toffee coated in chocolate embedded sporadically within the ice cream, which is inexplicably exciting when one starts out with the belief that they just made the mistake of getting some plain old coffee ice cream.

The Panna Cotta is creamy and sweet, as may be expected; if you ask about it, the misinformed staff behind the counter will tell you that “panna cotta is an Italian pastry and they make it into a gelato like this.” This is not true, panna cotta is more similar to a custard, pudding or flan than a pastry and the consistency of the gelato is very much like a very well made custard, not too sweet, not chunky, just smooth, sweet and pleasant.

Overall, food industry experiences are subjective, one may love this place or not, but the odds are that anyone who dislikes one thing about it can find another two that they like. A clean and friendly atmosphere, with beautifully arranged confections and a taste that is worth the markup from Carvel or Baskin Robbins, Caramello is a great place to satisfy your hunger for human flesh. Or ice cream. Or gelato. Whatever. Same thing.

*To anyone who reads this and says, “that’s so cool, that’s what I do!” Here is what comes to mind to most people who are not you: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/digital-shorts/video/enchilada/1353699/

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