YES, you’ve tried a lot of pistachio gelatos in the metro, and quite a number of them have turned out to be good. But good isn’t good enough, and you’ve never had the best pistachio gelato in town until you’ve tried the pistachio gelato of Morelli’s Gelato, whose first caffè is opening at the newly opened East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza tomorrow (July 24, 2013).
Morelli’s Gelato actually opened its first Philippine outlet at the Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati, late last year. It was just a kiosk, but it was Morelli’s first outlet in Southeast Asia, and it quickly became a hit. Brought to Manila by the Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. (GRCI) led by its president and CEO Archie Rodriguez, it’s a U.K.-born brand whose gelato-making traditions date back to 1907 and has been called by Conde Nast as the “Best Gelato in London.” Italian immigrant to the United Kingdom Giuseppe Morelli started by selling his homemade gelato from the back of his bicycle in 1907 and, today, it has transformed into a major player in the ice cream industry, with fifth-generation Bibi Morelli now serving as the continuing family enterprise’s business leader and with the brand making a strong presence not only in the U.K. but also in Monaco, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Rodriguez himself ‘discovered’ Morelli’s Gelato in one of his trips to London, where he craved for gelato and, before heading back for Manila, visited London’s famous Harrods to have a scoop of gelato. People were queueing up, and he waited patiently for his turn. It turned out to be so good that his initial plan to have just one scoop became two, three, four and, finally, five. Pistachio and Nocciola (Hazelnut), two of Morelli’s most popular flavors, were among those he tried, and he fell in love with the them. So, upon his return to Manila, he talked to his partners at GRCI, Manuel Zubiri and Griffith Go, about bringing in the brand, and they did.
“I tried over a hundred scoops of just Pistachio and Hazelnut gelato in Rome, Tuscany and other places, and Morelli’s had the best, especially the Pistachio. It’s really different,” explains Zubiri, who sat down with members of the local food media over a light lunch of Parma Ham with French Brie Cheese with Mixed Leaves and a Basil Pesto Crostini, Fresh Mozzarella with Sweet Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil, and Smoked Salmon Panini with Crème Fraiche and Fresh Rocket today (July 23, 2013).
The first gelato that was served today was a new ‘invention’ by Rodriguez and Morelli’s Italian master gelatiere Gino Soldan, who’s in town to help train the staff of Morelli’s Gelato Caffè at Shangri-La Plaza. It’s Gorgonzola and Honey Gelato, and it was delectably gourmet. Today was the first time that Soldan made a batch of this flavor, but since it turned out to be good, it would now make it to the official roster of gelato flavors of Morelli’s Gelato Caffè.
But when we finally got our own scoops of Pistachio Gelato, it instantly became everyone’s favorite. True to Rodriguez and Zubiri’s promise, it’s the best Pistachio Gelato I’ve ever tasted. While other Pistachio gelatos I’ve tried in the past turned out to be big disappointments, as they were either too creamy or milky and the pistachio taste was just a hint or so, Morelli’s Pistachio Gelato was awesomely delicious. Pure, smooth, flavorful! A spoonful in your mouth is like liquefied roasted pistachio nuts that have been pounded into a puree and churned in a gelato machine. There are no pistachio bits, but the full-bodied flavor of pistachio is in the gelato itself. You must try it!
Other flavors that we got to try in single scoops were Hazelnut and Peanut Butter.
Members of media also got to try Morelli’s gelato sundaes, including Celestina, Vesuvio and Manila Special.
Celestina (Php250) is chocolate, strawberry and soft vanilla gelato covered with chocolate sauce, fresh banana slices and strawberries, and served with fresh whipped cream and an ethereal mist.
Vesuvio (Php495) is soft vanilla gelato served with chocolate cake, topped with chocolate sauce, caramelized almond and an ethereal mist.
Manila Special (Php450) is soft vanilla, banana and coconut gelato, served with caramel dulce de leche sauce, condensed milk, Piemonte hazelnuts and coconut flakes.
There are a lot of other gelato sundaes to try, all served in exquisite Murano glasses from Italy. Diners can also just take a look at the gelato flavors available in the refrigerated display and order their gelatos by scoops – one scoop in cone or cup for Php120, two scoops for Php170 and three scoops for Php210. Toppings can also be added for Php20. Considering the fact that Morelli’s gelatos are natural, with only the best ingredients available going into the making of each batch of gelato, contain approximately 11% fat and only 120 calories per scoop, have no hydrogenated fats nor artificial flavors, and are made fresh daily, the prices are surprisingly reasonable. At Harrods in London, one scoop of Morelli’s Gelato costs £4, which is equivalent to roughly Php265.
Morelli’s Gelato also serves Bonbons (soft serve vanilla balls covered with Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate), Piccolinis (small cones with a scoop of gelato covered in chocolate ) and Choc’Amore (chocolate-coated gelato bars on stick), Frozen Yogurt, Sorbetto Cocktails (Morelli’s sorbets blended with spirits such as vodka and rum), Extra Thick Milkshakes, Italian Wines, Coffee and Tea, and Delizie (light gelato mousses served in chocolate cups).
(Morelli’s Gelato Caffè is located at Level 2 of Shangri-La Plaza’s new East Wing.)