Terri-Ann Nicholls is the energetic entrepreneur behind the business, which she opened with her husband Berchaun Nicholls, who also has a full-time job as an ER physician at Centennial Medical Center.
Born in Jamaica, Terri-Ann Nicholls said she’s been obsessed with ice cream her entire life. A favorite family outing was to the legendary ice cream shop at historic Devon House in Kingston.
Her family eventually moved to New York, where she developed a childhood crush on Carvel ice cream cakes. After college at Fordham University, she took a trip to Italy, where she discovered gelato.
“I said, ‘This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for all my life,’ ” she recalled, laughing.
Later she worked in finance in New York, where she met her husband while hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment. (A friend asked to bring along a young medical resident who didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday. Destiny.)
Eventually the couple moved to Nashville, Berchaun Nicholls’ hometown. (He attended Brentwood High School, Sewanee and Meharry Medical College.) They live not far from the shop.
For the past two years, the couple has been working to open Legato Gelato, with Terri-Ann in the lead. She said she uses local ingredients whenever she can, like the Gammon Family Dairy’s Tennessee Real Milk from Orlinda, Tenn.
Other ingredients, like hazelnuts and pistachios, she imports from Italy. (In fact, Sicilian pistachio and hazelnut are two signature flavors, along with chocolate.)
“With gelato, it’s all about the flavors,” she said. Proponents of gelato versus ice cream say that because gelato is made with milk instead of cream, the dairy taste doesn’t mask the flavors you add to it — for example, the ripe organic strawberries in a recent daily special.
The shop also sells sorbetto (also known as sorbet) made from fresh seasonal fruit, and baked treats from Dozens, and there are more additions to come. Terri-Ann said she’s working to develop an ice cream and cupcake product, teaming up with Cupcake Collection in Germantown. For updates and daily flavors, follow Legato Gelato on Facebook and Twitter.
Legato Gelato is located at 1200 Villa Place, Suite 113, in the Edgehill Village retail development. The phone number is 530-3190.
A version of this story appeared in my Food Biz column in this week's print edition of The City Paper and online in Nashville Post.