August 2, 2015

You Have to Eat This Before Summer Ends: Gelato at Gran Caffe l'Aquila

Gran Caffe L'Aquila opened last January as Philadelphia's first "grand Italian experience:" a fancy coffee and wine stand up bar, a pastry counter, a complex menu of meats, cheeses and entrees in the dining room, wait staff with Italian accents and chic fedoras, bold decor shipped directly from Italy and more. 

Ever since our honeymoon in Venice seven years ago, we've wished the U.S. had more (if any) drop in, stand-and-sip/socialize wine and coffee bars like we frequented in Italy, so Gran Caffe drew us in several times during winter and spring. The espresso did not disappoint, the pastries were delicious and the uber thick, rich hot chocolate made from chocolates found only in L'Aquila, Italy, was excellent. A little taste of of the motherland, found! Keep that in mind this winter. 

Come summer, what really stood out at Gran Caffe L'Aquila, though, was the gelato. Dare I say that it rivals - if not surpasses - Capogiro?! My first bite of regular chocolate was so creamy it stopped me in my tracks. Combine with pistachio for sweet bliss. The selection of traditional and unique flavors - including blends spiked with alcohol! - will have you salivating to try them all. No wonder it just won Best of Philly for 2015. Gran Caffe's owners have also won the World Cup of Gelato. Michael Klein has more on that and how the devastating 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy, destroyed their original cafe and motivated them to reopen in Philly. 

The rest of the food at Gran Caffe has been met with mixed reviews, but definitely take a break from your regular gelato or ice cream shop and give this one a try before summer is out. 

Beautiful coffee and almond croissant...

This delightful pastry below is called a Sfogliatelle, a "shell-shaped filled Italian pastry native to Campania. "Sfogliatella" means "small, thin leaf/layer," as the pastry's texture resembles stacked leaves." And it had chocolate inside. Winner!! To the right, Italian hot chocolate. Thick, rich and perfect on a winter day.

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