Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

West Chester Gelato lovers were left to mourn when Sprazzo Gelato closed in late 2009. However, the popular dessert’s sweet taste is back in the Dub-C with D’Ascenzo’s Gelato on East Gay St. This young gelateria has become a member of our community, participating in a number of local events such as West Chester’s Restaurant Week. Their unique array of flavors are made with authentic Italian ingredients without any artificial fillers.

Following a 1999 trip to Italy, the couple was enchanted with the ‘old world’ style frozen dessert.

“My wife and I had the gelato everywhere we went, but our favorite was the gelateria by the Parthenon…We enjoyed the experience and the intense flavors and thought it was such a beautiful display,” owner Glenn D’Ascenzo said. The gelato from Italy left a memorable impression on the owners, and inspired them to get into the business. Owners Glenn and Kristin D’Ascenzo jumped into the gelato business in 2004.

As Glenn and Kristin situated themselves on the entrepreneurial scene, Glenn pieced together a signature recipe for his very own gelato. They started as a wholesaler of the product at a farmer’s market in Chestnut Hill. D’Acenzo Gelato became a regular vendor at events and festivals throughout the Philadelphia area.

They were present at the Chaddsford Winery Memorial Day Festival, toting their Chaddsford Cabernet gelato. In the West Chester borough, D’Ascenzo uses a portable cart to share their gelato for outdoor events such as Super Sundays, Swinging Thursdays and the West Chester Restaurant Festival. Folks started asking about where to find their gelato. Eventually, the pair set up shop on Gay St in West Chester to have a central location. The couple decided on a quaint brick row-home to renovate into their small business in April 2010.

The ambiance at their street-side location adds to the entrepreneurs’ niche. D’Ascenzo’s Gelato sits nestled next to West Chester’s Italian restaurants, located on the quiet end of the borough. Wrought iron tables and chairs adorn the welcoming courtyard set on the side of the building. The inviting outdoor dining area is lined with flowers. This gelato shop reeks with charm just from the outer appearance.

The array of delectable gelato flavors immediately stunned me upon entering the humble 15-by-20 room of the gelateria. Behind the massive bubble of a dessert case, the gourmet variety spanned from all the different berries to cookie dough-infused creations. One of the most intriguing, the caramel and sea salt, provided a refreshing, complementary flavor.

Kristin D’Ascenzo went into detail about the delicious, homemade gelato and the demanding work she and her husband Glenn dedicate to making their product.

“We make it on premises here in the store; every or every other day, keeping 24 pans on display. It’s a labor intensive process. It’s a long process; we gather the nuts, roast them, mash them into a paste and turn them into a variety. If we’re making blood orange gelato we have to actually squeeze the oranges into the paste. So there’s a lot of work involved, but it makes a nice product,” Kristin commented.

Her husband Glenn explained the couple’s love for fresh ingredients and emphasis on homemade food, “My grandmother was always cooking and making her pastas. My grandfather who came from Italy also made his own wines and liqueurs. My parents still love to prepare meals for the whole family.”

Their roots of passion for this model continue the old world tradition before preservative and artificial additives. In fact, gelato is actually healthier than ice cream, making it not such a naughty treat. Made with hormone-free organic milk, all natural fruit and nuts, and far less sugar and fat content than ice cream, gelato is served as a guilt-free treat!

Other than the ‘health-nut’ factors listed above, one can’t help but be curious, why is gelato a step-up from ice-cream? “What’s different about gelato, other than your heady ingredients and disciplined principles of freshness? What is it that sets a gelateria apart from an ordinary ice cream parlor like Scoops on High St.?” I inquired.

“Gelato is made by incorporating very little air or overrun, creating a dense and creamy product allowing natural fruit/nut flavors to come through,” the owners explained.

Their position in the borough was decisive with the business’s success. The gelateria is directly next to the I-pasta Restaurant and Nonna’s Italian Restaurant is just a few doors down. Not to mention Gilmore’s fancy French cuisine across the street. A parallel can be drawn between the winers and diners of these establishments and subsequent trips to the gelateria. “I think peak times are always the weekends, evenings for sure. Saturdays are great! People like to stroll and go to the restaurants in town; there are fabulous restaurants everywhere here. And then they stroll for dessert, and come to the gelateria,” Kristen said.

This business holds a niche with one key factor; now they are the only gelateria in West Chester. With all of their gelato made from scratch, fresh ingredients, and enchanting story of inspiration, Kristin and Glenn D’Ascenzo have paved the path for frozen treat success. The community expects their presence at the various events held in the borough and in Chadds Ford. With their fairly new location on Gay Street, the owners certainly have made their presence known as the after dinner stop in West Chester’s ‘Little Italy.’ A mission statement or company promise found in their product brochure reads, “We will always let our quality speak for itself.”

Nicholas Devoe is a fifth-year student majoring in English with at minor in Journalism. He can be reached at ND626335@wcupa.edu. 

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