Nick and Terrie DeLuca, owners of DeLuca Gelato, are at their shop on Gaskins Road every day to hand-make gelato and offer customers an authentic taste of Italy.
The family-owned and operated store boasts more than 70 flavors of gelato and sorbet, along with other specialty Italian desserts.
"Nick pours his soul into making each pan of gelato," Terrie said. "This place is us from the decor to the seating and the recipes."
Maya Vincelli, assistant director of retail services, said the University of Richmond's new Passport Cafe in the Carole Weinstein International Center included gelato on the menu because it was a treat that had not been available anywhere else on campus.
"We wanted gelato to be a destination item, or something you crave and know just where to get it -- at Passport Cafe," Vincelli said.
Passport Cafe chose DeLuca Gelato for its quality, numerous flavors and the stamp of approval from Italian faculty members on campus.
"As a tour guide, I feel that the gelato reflects well on the school," sophomore Taylor Michals said. "It is innovative and rare for colleges to carry."
A former teacher in Hanover County, Nick took groups of students to Italy to show them the Italian culture. Upon returning, he decided he wanted to own a gelato shop. Although some gelato was offered in the Richmond area, it was not always as fresh or flavorful as it was in Italy. Terrie was on board with the idea of a gelateria when she realized firsthand how different Italy's gelato was compared to the gelato offered in the United States.
People do not realize that "all gelato is not created equal," Terrie said. There is no standard on what gelato is in the United States, and grocery stores often label ice cream as gelato.
DeLuca Gelato has been open for three and a half years and attracts a loyal group of customers who have a predilection for quality gelato.
"People who come most often stop talking about the gelato and talk about each other," Terrie said. "One of the things I love about owning the shop is talking to people. If you have a problem, one of the two of us will always be here to help."
The DeLucas make the gelato every morning as needed, with each tub usually lasting three to four days. Ice cream tubs can last up to one year because the heavy creme works as a stabilizer.
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"When you go to ice cream shops, you see big nasty buckets that may breed bacteria because they have been used for a long time," Terri said.
Gelato looks beautiful, makes your mouth water and has half the fat, Terrie said.
"You know what flavor it is from the beginning to the end of the cup," she said.
According to delucagelato.com, "Gelato contains less air than ice cream, so it is dense and creamy, and has a higher serving temperature, giving an intense, clean perception of the flavor."
Terrie said they used fresh fruit when it was in season and made most of their own ingredients, including chocolate paste. They also use an Italian company in North Carolina for distribution.
"We don't want to use excess ingredients and names I can't even pronounce," Terrie said. "It may make the product more expensive, but that is where you can taste the quality."
The shop is visited by many families with allergies, so it is important to be able to explain the product's ingredients, she said.
Senior Chelsea Bracken said she had initially thought the gelato at the Passport Cafe was overpriced, but had realized it was worth it after her first bite. Passport Cafe has eight rotating flavors as well as non-dairy sorbets, Vincelli said.
"DeLuca's offers a wide variety of flavors, so we're working through the options to find what the students like best," she said. "So far, the top sellers are the Nutella gelato, and interestingly, the sea salt and olive oil gelato is selling well, too."
Sophomore Hannah Konowitz said she wished students could vote on the flavors of the week, similar to the voting on cereal in the dining hall. But, it is worth a visit to DeLuca Gelato to sample all of the flavors rather than being limited to the eight flavors offered by Passport Cafe, she said.
Terrie said the only downside to gelato was that it was very labor-intensive. But she finds that her hard work pays off.
"One of the most exciting things to do is watch people taste their first scoop of gelato," she said.
Contact staff reporter Amanda Sullivan at email@example.com
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