March 24, 2013

Morano Gelato

I first had gelato as an adult. How I lived that long without knowing the pleasures of this stuff, I don't know. When we went to Italy four years ago, we sampled lots of authentic gelato multiple times a day to sustain us in the Italian summer heat, the best we found being in Rome.

We are now lucky enough to have a truly stellar gelateria right here in Hanover, New Hampshire. On Morano Gelato's web site and in the store is the following information about what gelato is: "Gelato is Italian ice cream...dense, smooth, creamy, and flavorful...Gelato is much lower in butterfat than American ice cream. Gelato is denser than American ice cream. Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than American ice cream." The lower butterfat has the result that instead of having the fat coat your tongue as in ice cream, you truly taste the flavor of the gelato even more than you taste the same flavor in ice cream. The warmer temperature contributes to a more intense taste as well. So raspberry gelato tastes like raspberries; mango gelato tastes like mangoes; grapefruit gelato tastes like grapefruit; dark chocolate gelato has an unadulterated, intense chocolate flavor.

We first had Upper-Valley-native Morgan Morano's gelato in the fall of 2010 when she was selling a few flavors all by herself from a cart in the back corner of Rosey Jekes coffee shop (a favorite local cafe that has since closed). The next thing we knew-- the following spring-- she had upgraded to a skinny, attractive store-front space just a couple of doors north of the Nugget Movie Theatre on Main Street. It was a delight to see the crowd milling about, waiting in line and eating their gelato out on the sidewalk any time you went through town. In the past year, she has expanded her gelato shop once again into the adjoining space and at least tripled the size, now with more seating. She also has framed large photographs of the gelato-making process displayed on the wall of the new space for our enlightenment, from chopping the chocolate and squeezing the lemons through to the presentation you see in the case.

The owner learned to make gelato in Italy and she makes it every day on site. If you go when they open at 11:30 (and I won't say how many times we've waited for them to unlock the door at 11:30), she doesn't have every single flavor upstairs in the case yet because she is still making it, just like the traditional gelato shops in Italy. Also, if you go near closing, they have sold out of some flavors and you have fewer options. No complaints, though; I've never had a flavor I haven't absolutely loved. The flavors are based on the season, and unlike so many restaurants these days that say they "use local ingredients whenever possible" or some similar phrase that sounds good but really means nothing, she really does create her authentic, small batches of gelato using seasonal flavors and local ingredients as much as possible. Her dairy products are from McNamara Dairy in Plainfield, New Hampshire, the Italian sandwiches she now sells are made on King Arthur bread from Norwich, Vermont (and they are so simple and tasty-- the staff warms them and oils the bread when you order them), and you won't find blueberry gelato in the winter-- though you will find grapefruit and citrus cream, and when we visited today in late March, maple.

Her product seems unchanged from when she started in the cart at the back of the coffee shop. There are some flavors she seems to always have-- milk chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, sweet milk, chocolate chip. Then there are the sometimes treats like coconut and banana and caramel and, best of all, salted caramel (made with Red Kite Candy out of Thetford, Vermont). Her fruit flavors follow the seasons-- strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, fall raspberry, melon.

It's exciting to see someone running an independent business making a great product and being so successful. The gelato shop has brought so much business that a long-time coffee shop up the street has tried to tap into the gelato market as well. No comment on their foray.

In addition to gelato, there is an item on the menu we never had in Italy called an affogato. It is espresso (or, in the winter months, you may choose cioccolata calda, thick, thick, rich Italian hot chocolate) brewed on top of your choice of gelato. The gelato cools the delicious espresso just a bit, the espresso warms the gelato, they swirl together beautifully and it is just heavenly. We've been known to have our dishes of gelato and then go back to the counter and order affogatos for dessert. The most recent time we did this, our son proved just a little too clever for me, in response to my telling him I was getting some coffee, asking, "Mommy, why are you scooping your coffee, I wonder?"


Willem likes the chocolate. He also likes banana and strawberry and melon and hazelnut and what he once called "'stachio," and any other flavor he has tried. I like to think he knows good food when he meets it.

Morano Gelato has been called the best gelato in New England by Yankee Magazine, the best gelato in America by Forbes magazine, among many other accolades. We love that it causes us to go into "town" (and encourage anyone visiting us to do so) and support our local businesses-- gelato and otherwise-- much more often than we used to. You would be seriously remiss to visit Hanover, New Hampshire and not get this gelato.


  1. I don't understand the random picture of the sandwich with the tomato and the (cheese/egg?) in the middle of the post.

    But the rest of it sounds great.

  2. Tomato and mozzarella, one of the little sandwiches they make.

  3. Mmmmm... cool that Hanover has such a shop! And holy cow that is a JONES-sized dish of gelato that Willem is tackling. Dang.

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