After a devastating 2009 earthquake destroyed their restaurant and an unfortunate portion of the city of L'Aquila, Italy, brothers Riccardo and Gigio Longo opened up Gran Caffe L'Aquila in the Rittenhouse area. And once you exit the bustle of 17th and Chestnut and enter their establishment, it's as if you're transported to a proper Italian cafe, replete with stellar gelati, panini to go, and cappucino. That's not to say that a proper dine-in menu isn't available, but much of the fanfare surrounding Gran Caffe L'Aquila has centered around their gelati.
In fact, one of the principals of the cafe is award-winning gelato maker Stefano Biasini. And with an ever-changing option of 24 gelati on offer, Biasini's technique and passion is on display for our gustatory pleasure.
A small serving provides a single scoop of one of the gelati, while the medium and large provide two and three tastes, respectively. After enjoying a weekend lunch at DanDan as well as some Walnut Street shopping, the GF and I stopped in to finally try 2015's Best of Philly Gelato.
The GF went with the chocolate and desire gelati. The rich chocolate notes were present, providing an enjoyable undertone of bitterness from the high-quality chocolate. And the desire? Wow - that's where we were really blown away by the ingredients. The deep cherry flavors really came through, with bits of whole cherry skins providing some texture. Amazing.
Medium Straciatella & Cannolo [$6]
I went with straciatella and cannolo. The straciatella was studded with chocolate chips and had surprisingly savory undertones. And the complexity of the cannolo had a great depth of flavor and an innate sweetness that was light.
I love me some Capogiro Gelato, to be sure. But Gran Cafe L'Aquila? They brought it to the next level. It truly is all about how Biasini allows the ingredients to shine through his creations. I'll need to come back here to try the regular dining menu and some of those delicious-looking panini's, but it's the gelati that has me sold on returning.