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Gelato, tailored to perfection, in Salt Lake City at Gelarti

Published May 29, 2014 12:33 pm

Gelarti • Italian-born transplant makes second-career of making people's lives a little sweeter.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For most people, retirement means traveling, gardening and maybe a few rounds of golf.

Not for Patrizio Santurro.

After a 35-year-career as a health care administrator in Florence, Italy, he retired and attended a well-known culinary school in Umbria to learn the art of making gelato.

After graduation from the Universita dei Sapori Perugia, Santurro and his wife Anna moved to Salt Lake City and opened Gelateria Artigianale Italiana or Gelarti.

"Anna thought I was crazy," Santurro explained. "But now she sees it as a great opportunity."

At the 3-year-old business, at 465 E. 3300 South, Santurro makes small batches of gelato and sorbetto for area restaurants and shops using fresh milk, fruit and flavorings. By shunning pre-made mixes, he is able to create just about any flavor his customers want, from basil and blackberry to lavender and lemon.

"Just like the tailor makes the suit," Santurro says. "I make it to fit."

The rotation includes both the traditional — pistachio, caramel, chocolate, strawberry and banana — and the unique.

On a recent day, Santurro had visitors sample a tart green apple gelato, with just a hint of green color. He shows them the rough draft of a recipe for Malaga, a gelato made with rum and raisins. He provides a sample of a tiny cake-like semifreddo and he talks about an elusive customer request for lucuma, a tropical Peruvian fruit.

"He just has to get the fruit and he can make it," said the Santurro's youngest son Andrea, who was attending Brigham Young University when his father decided to turn his long-time passion into a U.S. business.

It was Santurro's father, Pompilio, a policeman, who introduced a young Patrizio to the confection, that throughout his life he has made for family and friends

"He's always thought that people needed sweet things in their lives," Andrea says.

While it was just a hobby back then, today Santurro obsesses over the details of his product. He insists on using a pasteurizer, shipped from Italy, which heats the milk and sugar and blends it into a smooth mixture for freezing.

"In Italy everyone uses a pasteurizer," says Andrea.

And with every new recipe, Santurro uses a refractometer to ensure that the mixture has the correct liquid/sugar ratio.

The result is a creamy, dense dessert that is winning over customers and chefs along the Wasatch Front. (Gelato does not contain as much air as traditional American ice cream, and therefore has a denser texture.)

For the past three years, Gelarti has been a vendor at the Downtown Farmer's Market at Pioneer Park and will return for the 2014 season, which starts June 14.

Several well-known restaurants and shops also carry Gelarti including Caffe Niche, Faustina and Oasis in Salt Lake City; La Caille in Sandy; and La Niche, a French-themed gift store in Park City with a gelato and coffee bar in the back.

"We have a lot of foreign visitors who have traveled to Italy and Europe and they all think the gelato is wonderful," said La Niche owner Jane Schaffner. "Whatever he's doing, it's working."


Finding Gelarti

Where • Gelarti is served at Caffe Niche, Faustina and Oasis in Salt Lake City; La Caille in Sandy and La Niche, a French-themed gift store in Park City. It also will be available at the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park beginning June 14.

Special orders • 465 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-784-8259.

Online • eatgelarti.com