Don't get Brooklyn transplant Corrado Savarino started on people who make fake gelato. His is the real deal--made with a labor-intensive egg custard--and there's just no substitute. Which means it's been a long wait for the folks who love Savarino's traditional recipe. After the move from Nolensville Road to Hillsboro Village, Savarino's gelato machine was on the fritz for a while, but he finally got things in working order this spring. Now Al Bunetta, Ed Pontieri, Mike Figlio--and all the other regulars who have sandwiches named for them at the clubby eatery--have a cool, sweet finale to their lingering lunches of homemade pizzas, stuffed artichokes and eponymous sandwiches.
It takes three days to mix a batch of gelato. There's the custard, which has to cool and settle for a day to allow all the air to escape, then the blending of the flavors, then the freezing. Savarino makes a batch of base every week and infuses it with flavors such as tiramisu, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate. He sells a 5-ounce cup for $3. He also makes Italian ices--a lighter formula with milk or water in lieu of the egg custard--in flavors such as lemon, cherry and almond.
If you're lucky, you might get there on a day when Savarino has some spumoni on hand--and for your own sake, don't get him started on those charlatans who confuse spumoni with Neapolitan ice cream.
Savarino makes the real deal. He starts with a round mold, which he fills with layers of pistachio, tiramisu and stracciatella (chocolate chip) gelato, whipped cream and candied cherries. He refreezes the mold, then removes and cuts it in quarters, with each wedge revealing the colored layers.
While Savarino sells most of his spumoni wholesale, if you're lucky--or Italian--he might sell you one for $10. If he doesn't have any available, you could also try Bound'ry restaurant. Chef Lee Guidry, a recent alumnus of the Italian Market, has added Savarino's spumoni to Bound'ry's dessert menu.
With National Spumoni Day in the U.S. coming up Aug. 21, you might also ask Savarino if he has any big plans. But chances are he'll just shrug it off, as he does with so many of the Americanized Italian food traditions he comes across. When asked about the occasion, he scoffed, "It's Spumoni Day? Oh, I had no idea. I wonder which spumoni they're talking about."
Savarino's Cucina is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.