|When it comes to making gelato and sorbetto, Stephanie Reitano, owner of Capogiro Gelato Artisans, in Philadelphia, lives by the seasons. For example, when the strawberry harvest ends at the farms she patronizes in nearby Lancaster County, strawberry becomes unavailable as a flavor until the next year, no matter how much her customers might clamor for it. In fact, Reitano is so committed to serving the best possible product that she changes her list of offerings - made form scratch in small batches each morning - daily, according to what ingredients are the ripest and freshest. Reitano started Capogiro in 2002, a year after she first tasted real gelato, on a trip to Italy with her Italian-born husband, John. "I was absolutely floored," she recalls. "It was like nothing I'd ever had." (Capogiro is Italian for giddiness or dizziness - or, as Reitano puts it, the sensation a man feels when a pretty girl turns his head.)
Returning to the States, she realized that although plenty of shops here were selling great ice cream (see page 26 for a few of Saveur's favorites), it was a challenge to find top-quality artisanal-style gelato, which is based on milk, sugar, and sometimes egg yolks and is generally denser than its American cousin (Sorbetto contains only sugar, water and fruit.) Before long, Reitano bought a gelato machine and began experiment; her goal was to replicate the pure, intense flavor and the creamy texture of the versions she ate in Italy. "An incredible amount of mistakes" later, she opened her shop and has since offered more than 250 flavors, some classic, some unique. About 30 are available on any given day, and they are impressively good. Popular choices include (right, from front) blackberry sorbetto, which is so earthy it reaches a chocolate note; a decadent, ganache-like bitter chocolate gelato; lavender gelato, made with lavender-infused milk and whole lavender buds; and a refreshing strawberry sorbetto spiked with tequila. Six pints of Capogiro gelato and sorbetto cost $60, plus shipping. To order, call 215/351-0900 or visit www.capogirogelato.com.
- Janet Forman