Ice cream sneaks up on you. Just a taste becomes two or three spoonfuls, and before you know it, you're looking at the bottom of an empty container that you want to hide in the bottom of the trash can before anyone sees.
Going to an ice-cream store is a different experience. And Gelati Celesti in the West End has honed the way people enjoy the frozen goodness for 30 years. "I always tell people," owner Steve Rosser says, "ice cream is not a food — it's a treat."
Gelato is a denser, less air-filled version of ice cream. Although it's made with milk in Italy, in the United States the Food and Drug Administration sets standards for butterfat content and weight, among other things. That means the American version of gelato is richer and delivers a more powerful mouth-feel experience than regular ice cream.
Rosser bought the company five years ago from friend and longtime owner Peter Edmunds. "I always wanted to do my own thing and had started a search for a small business," he says. "[Edmunds] called me and said: 'You know what, I'm tired. I've been doing this for 25 years — I'd like to sell my business.' And I was kind of surprised, but it was a really wonderful transaction."
Since then, Rosser moved ice cream production from the back of the original store to a commercial kitchen on Dabney Road. He's added another store, in Bon Air, put a Gelati Celesti truck on the road (well, parked at festivals and private events) and is opening a third store in Short Pump on Thursday.
Peter Fraser of Fraser Design Associates created interiors for both the Bon Air store and the newest one. The tag line on Fraser's website for the project declares: "Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos. We designed a space to save us from that fate."
"When you think of ice cream stores, you think of a lot of plastic and bright colors. That's not what we're all about," Rosser says. "Adults make the decision to go. We wanted to create a more sophisticated experience." Expect lots of reclaimed wood, milk bottle fixtures and custom ironwork seating.
But you go to the ice cream store for the flavors, not the interior's artisan craftsmanship, right?
Gelati Celesti's No. 1 flavor is salted caramel, with chocolate decadence a close second. Besides the classics, Rosser rotates other ice cream varieties in and out. In the course of the year, the company will sell 180 flavors.
Remember Ukrop's rainbow cookies? You might find them stirred into vanilla ice cream. Baklava ice cream is one of Rosser's favorites, and for the new store he plans to unveil Bangkok peanut, as well as a bourbon-praline variety.
"Ideas come from a lot of different places," Rosser says — his ice-cream-maker, his wife and his employees — and he's willing to try any creative notion that comes his way.
"I get a little taste or spoons of ice cream throughout the day — which is terrific," he says. "I never get tired of it."
Regular ramen: Will Richardson's Shoryuken Ramen, a traveling ramen pop-up event, stays put for the next three months at Lunch on Monday and Tuesday evenings, from 5-11, starting Dec. 1. It's first come, first served, and you can grab a bowl for $10. facebook.com/shoryukenramen.
Final four: Richmonder Beth Royals is one of four finalists in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Her peanutty pie crust clusters (small squares of pie dough that Royals transforms into white chocolate peanut-butter drop candy) impressed the judges. "They felt I used pie crust in a way that hasn't been done before," she says. She's competing for a million-dollar prize and public voting is open till Dec. 2 at pillsbury.com/vote.
Closed: Andale Taco Chop Shop is temporarily closed. According to its Facebook page and confirmed by owner Michael Ng: "We will be closed until further notice. We can't handle the growth. Our product is not consistent. Going back to the basics."
Happy hour food drive: If you take canned goods to Don't Look Back, New York Deli and Portrait House through Nov. 21, between 3-9 p.m., your happy hour will magically extend past the usual 7 p.m. cutoff. The project benefits Virginia Supportive Housing. virginiasupportivehousing.org.
Highest bidder: The building that houses Lombardy Street's Pie, owned by Mo Roman, will be up for auction, Richmond BizSense reports. But despite the foreclosure on the building, the slices will continue to slide out of the oven for customers.
Golden trowels: For the sixth year, Tricycle Gardens handed out its Golden Trowel awards, honoring locals' contributions to the food community. Honorees at the Nov. 7 event included Susan Winiecki, associate publisher of Richmond Magazine, Rick McCormick, a volunteer at the Peter Paul Development Center, Urban Development Associates' Robin Miller and Dan Gecker, and Frank Robinson, president and chief executive of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. tricyclegardens.org.
Say cheese: The World's Best Cheesecake brand launched this week out of Ashland's Daystar Desserts. In addition to restaurants, cheesecakes in such flavors as crème brûlée, triple chocolate and pumpkin streusel (which was dropped off at the Style offices for thorough sampling) are available for order online. Co-owner Dave Saunders, also of Madison and Main, says of his three other partners: "This is a side business for all of us. It was a no-brainer." worldsbestcheesecake.com.