Gelato with the Taste of Italy, Made in New Haven
Giuliana Maravalle, a serial entrepreneur who has owned and operated beauty schools and boutiques, is making gelato in New Haven the same way it’s traditionally been made in her native Italy.
Gelato Giuliana was first created to serve customers of Café Bottega, Maravalle’s all-night espresso bar in New Haven.Yale University and other college students were her best customers, but the gelato has attracted fans across the East Coast. Today, the frozen treat can be found in stores and restaurants from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Gelato Giuliana products are carried in Whole Foods, Stew Leonard’s, IGA and a variety of exclusive restaurants and markets.
The growth in demand outstripped Maravalle’s manufacturing capacity. “We’ve actually had to turn down a lot of business because we didn’t have the space to produce enough gelato to meet demand,” said Maravalle. “I didn’t think the business would grow that quickly, especially because of the economy. We had to turn away an 80-store chain.”
That’s why Gelato Giuliana just moved into new, more spacious facilities at 240 Sargent Drive in New Haven. The new space, a 30,000-square foot facility, offers Maravalle all the room she needs for expansion.
“I’ve been in New Haven most of my life,” said Maravalle. “I like the city, the people and the local government. And it’s been very good for my businesses.”Gelato Giuliana is made the old-fashioned way: in small batches, using the freshest ingredients. Real gelato is very dense. Unlike ice cream, gelato contains less than 15 percent air and no more than 4 percent fat.
“Gelato making is not difficult: Good ingredients, don’t cut corners,” said Maravalle. “You can get condensed syrup. But we don’t; we use real fruit and crush it. And I don’t want to get away from what we are. Our equipment is the same as you’d find in a little mom-and-pop shop in Italy. But we have more of it.”
Maravalle plans to expand production quickly in her new space, and store the product in freezers located next door. The goal is to expand sensibly from the 10-person staff to whatever the market will bear – so long as quality is not compromised.
Maravalle also recently moved her dueling piano bar that grew from Café Bottega, Keys to the City, to the same space as her gelateria, all part of a new, larger entertainment complex dubbed Terminal 110. But, despite the change, Maravalle promises one thing will remain consistent: “It’s an artisan product. And it always will be.”