Christianne Mares and Jorge Borbolla plan to open Gelataio at 121 Lytton Ave. later than Aug. 1. The shop will be their first food-related business endeavor, with both of their backgrounds in tech.
Gelataio will serve Italian-inspired, California-made gelato made on site with ? you guessed it ? ingredients that are as local and as organic as humanly possible.
"Being that California has great produce and great citrus and berries combined with an Italian passion for doing gelato ? it was a no-brainer for me," Mares said.
Mares, who was born in Mexico, traveled to Hamburg, Germany, after high school to study communication design. She stayed in Europe to work after school and eventually returned to Mexico before ending up "by chance" in Palo Alto.
"When I went to Germany, I learned gelato," she said. "I got to know gelato there."
Years later in Palo Alto, after meeting her husband and having a child, she decided she wanted to "take a chance" on making her love for gelato into a business. The couple went to Italy for a summer of indulgent research, visiting gelaterias in Florence, Lucca, Bologna, Naples and Amalfi.
"We went from gelateria to gelateria, trying everything out, talking to owners to see how they do it," Mares said. "I just really fell in love." (She particularly remembers a gelateria in Sardinia, Pasqualina, that she described as "the point of no return" that made her want to have her own shop in the Bay Area.)
It took them more than a year to find the space, but they've snagged a good one on the bottom floor at four-story Lytton Gateway. The building at the corner of Lytton and Alma streets is anchored by online-survey company Survey Monkey.
The future home of Gelataio at 121 Lytton St. in Palo Alto.
Gelataio will be serving up 11 flavors made from recipes that Mares has developed and that will all be made in an open kitchen inside the shop.
"Making the gelato fresh on premises daily is the key and has huge impact on the flavor and the texture," she said. "This is what we learned in Italy."
Flavors include chocolate, hazelnut, bacio (chocolate-hazelnut), pistachio, toblerone, stracciatella, lemon, mango and strawberry. Mares mentioned she tried some savory gelatos in Italy and might try that out in the new shop.
Beyond typical gelato, there will also be sorbeto (vegan, non-dairy) and gelato made from almonds, soy or coconut milk to accommodate people with allergies or dairy intolerances. Also look out for gelato and sorbeto popsicles. There will also be baked goods, including torta di riso (an Italian rice cake) and gelato cake.
Check out the shop's Facebook page for some sneak peeks of the space and, of course, the gelato.
121 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto