UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Gelato Grotto is closed. I was very sad to find this out as I visited and saw the closed sign. I wasn't sure the southwest suburbs would accept gelato but the restaurant also offered soups, sandwiches, coffee and desserts. I was hoping it was well rounded enough to stay in business. But sadly, it didn't.
I recently had a Palos Heights townhouse for sale near 135th & Ridgeland Ave. (that I sold myself) and I had my eye on a little storefront called Gelato Grotto that was not yet open. Every time I drove down that street I would check to see if there was activity. Sometimes I drove into the parking lot to look in. I felt like I was stalking the place!
Finally, one day I was checking it out and it looked like there were lights on. I pulled into the parking lot and saw people there. I couldn't wait to find out what this new piece of Palos Heights real estate offered and how it was set up.
I was greeted by a nice young man who seemed to know his gelato. There were 3 women asking what gelato was. I think I first tried it at a restaurant or festival or something after seeing it on the Food Network. Then Hagen Daaz sold it but I haven't been able to find it anymore (a distributor told me they took it off the market because it wasn't selling, at least not in our area). There was a gelato place in Santa Cruz, CA that offered more than 30 different flavors at a time.
Gelato Grotto is a little place that offers coffees in all its different forms, paninis, soup, pastries and gelato. If I'm missing something please let me know or I'll edit later. They rotate about 50 different flavors of the gelato and always have 24 on display. So far I have tried dulce le leche, spumoni, caramel praline banana & hazelnut (although it has a different, Italian sounding name that starts with a C and I can't remember it now).
The first time I went I ordered a medium but realized a small would have been fine. I now get the small size but that's just because I'm trying to have my gelato and diet too. Everything in moderation.
What is Gelato?
To me, the best way to describe it is like a combination of soft-serve and regular ice cream. It is much creamier in texture and feels more sinful than ice cream but actually has less butterfat. It's ice cream without the air which makes it much creamier. I'm the type of person that likes melted ice cream and I've actually put it in the microwave, although that gets tricky.
I spoke with the owner and wished him well as I want Gelato Grotto to be successful so I can get my fix. Especially since a Coldstone Creamery is opening across the street and I think it's a more popular franchise. The good thing is that Gelato Grotto offers more than just gelato so hopefully it will develop a clientele. There have been people in there every time I've visited.
I did a search for Gelato Grotto and it seems there are other's but I do not believe it is a franchise. I guess that's just a good name. The owner said his friends told him to franchise but he said he's starting out one at a time. Again, I hope the southwest suburbs fall in love with gelato like I have and keep him in business.