Fallbrook’s Sweet Taste of Italy
by Nathalie Taylor
In the film “Eat, Pray, Love” Julia Roberts sat on a bench savoring every last bit of her gelato. That image inspired ice cream lovers the world over to try gelato. However – in my case, I had already enjoyed gelato by the time I watched her savoring it on the big screen.
My first gelato was experienced in a Maui pier shop with the sound of waves swishing under my bench. It was beyond refreshing on a steamy, muggy day. Cold and creamy, it was just about perfect. I was hooked. I asked the server what made it different than ice cream and she told me that they take out most of the air bubbles. The lack of bubbles makes for a rich dessert experience. My advice – if you haven’t tried gelato – do.
In Fallbrook, California, the place to experience gelato is Tutto Dolce. Run by an Italian named Fabio Peraro and his wife, Rosa, this shop serves some luscious treats. Gelato is the lure, but chocolates and candies imported from Italy are also reasons to visit.
Fabio was born in Italy, near Venice, and the people credited for the development of gelato are the Italians. It is said that a fisherman named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli fashioned a gelato machine as early as the 1600s. Like Francesco, Fabio is a gelato ground-breaker. In the corner of his shop sits a vintage gelato machine that he took to various culinary events even before gelato became popular in America. The curious would stop by his booth and, with this machine, he would demonstrate what he called “the gelato technique.”
Everything about Tutto Dolce’s gelato whispers elegance: the petite cups, the dainty spoons, and the extremely cold, intense-flavored Italian-style ice cream. Tutto Dolce offers a variety of flavors including Orange, which is flavored with oranges grown in the Peraro’s private grove. Of course it tastes fresh and inspiring. They also serve water-based gelato for those who are lactose intolerant. I tried every flavor and they were all heavenly. Eating gelato is a different experience than eating ice cream. Since it is so cold it rarely melts before it is in your mouth, so the taste is intense. Pistachio Coffee gelato has a creamy flavor with a hint of nuts. Tiramisu, Tutti Fruiti and Chocolate Chip are also delicious. The water-based Chocolate gelato has a surprisingly strong chocolate flavor due to the imported cocoa powder Fabio uses. This cocoa, which is an ingredient in all of the chocolate gelato blends, is imported from Europe and is unique to Fabio’s store. Even the scent is intoxicating. It has the just the right balance of cocoa and vanilla.
Fabio mentioned that when his gelato is eaten, “you don’t feel too full but are satisfied.” He also mentioned, “It is all natural and we only have four ingredients.”
In addition to the Fallbrook store, the Peraros have owned a wholesale gelato supply, candy and cocoa business since 1978. The upscale kitchen and specialty food store Williams-Sonoma has been a client, almost from the beginning.
Besides gelato, Tutto Dolce offers Italian candy. La Suissa is a creamy, delicious chocolate brand. They also import the hard candy Mangini, which is made by a family-owned company in northern Italy. The size is perfect for a coffee table dish – petite. The quality is high and the prices are reasonable.
Next door to the gelato and candy shop is an inviting boutique-sized shop stocked with items that Fabio and Rosa have imported from Italy. Large and small Venetian Carnival masks are lovely.
Last year the couple made a trip to Montelupo Fiorentino where they invested in several hand-fashioned vases. Montelupo Fiorentino is a village near Florence that has been a center for handmade Tuscan ceramics since the Renaissance. Colorful with dominant yellow and blue hues, the vases were purchased by the couple not only to sell, but to create a Tuscan ambiance. “We wanted to give a little more light to the store,” Fabio explained.
Tutto Dolce means “Everything Sweet.” I am enamored of this sweet shop – you will be too!
Tutto Dolce is located at 110 Main Avenue in Fallbrook. (760) 731-9688 Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.