2025 W Main St.
Salem, VA 24153

Homemade Gelato: The Perfect Ending to a Delicious Meal

Mamma Maria’s Italian Restaurant Offers Homemade Gelato

Have you ever tried homemade gelato? Gelato has been a staple Italian dessert for thousands of years. Fast forward to modern day, and gelato is now a popular dessert worldwide. You can find gelato on store shelves, at ice cream stands, and at some restaurants. Gelato, also known as “Italian ice cream,” is a one of the most popular Italian desserts.


At Mamma Maria’s Italian Restaurant, we try to give our customers the most authentic Italian cuisine dining experience. It is only fitting that we offer delicious homemade gelato to our customers as the perfect ending to their meal with us. This month, we are going to dive into the history of gelato, how we make gelato, and much more.


Gelato: A Proud, Centuries-Old Tradition

More than 5,000 years ago, Asian cultures discovered they could consume crushed ice and flavorings. Five hundred years later, Egyptian pharaohs would offer their guests a cup of ice sweetened with fruit juices. Thereafter, Romans began the ritual of eating ice of the volcanoes Etna and Vesuvius, covering the ice with honey. With the 14th century Italian Renaissance came the development of gelato from famous artist and architect, Bernado Bountalenti. Somewhere between 1550 and 1600, Bountalenti served gelato for the first time for the King of Spain.


Taking Over the World, One Spoonful at a Time

From gelato’s conception in the 14th century, it began dominating taste buds throughout the entire world. Gelato came to the United States in 1770 by Giovanni Biasiolo. At this point in time, there were two types of gelato. One, referred to as Sorbetto, was water mixed with fruits like lemon and strawberries. The other included mixing milk with cinnamon, pistachio, coffee, or chocolate. Gelato was a very popular and widely-enjoyed dessert for Americans during this time. Then came the invention of the hand-crank freezer and the birth of the ice cream industry in America. Gelato then took a backseat in America as a sought-after dessert at least until the 1900s. Then in 1967, Luciano Rabboni creates the first semi-finished gelato product, bringing it back to the spotlight.


The Delicious, Denser Version of Ice Cream

You may have heard people refer to gelato as “Italian ice cream.” Although this could be an accurate title, gelato is different than ordinary ice cream. “Gelato” means “frozen” in Italian, it does not mean ice cream. It’s similar to ice cream, but with an artisanal aesthetic. Gelato starts out with a similar custard base as ice cream. However, it has a higher proportion of milk and a lower proportion of cream and eggs. You churn gelato at a much slower rate than ice cream. This incorporates less air and leaves the gelato denser than ordinary ice cream. This enhances the creaminess of the gelato, making it more satisfying. The low-fat percentage also allows the flavor to take center stage for a more flavorful dessert.


Gelato, compared to ice cream, is better for you overall. Ice cream can have up to 25 percent butterfat. Homemade gelato, like we serve at Mamma Maria’s, contains only four to nine percent butterfat. Gelato is also served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream. This means that your mouth is less numb when you eat it – and a less numb tongue is more open to varied flavors. For some, gelato can be a more enjoyable dessert experience than ice cream.


Simple Ingredients for A Flavorful Taste

Gelato has quite the powerful taste for such simple ingredients. Some of the most popular ingredients, according to WhyGelato?, include:


Water (for dairy-free gelato)

Milk (for “cream flavors,” like chocolate, pistachio, or vanilla)


Milk-Solids-Not-Fat (MSNF)

Stabilizers and Emulsifiers





All of these ingredients are essential for making delicious homemade gelato. Stabilizers and emulsifiers act as thickening agents and help preserve the flavor. Air is sometimes the forgotten ingredient of gelato – but it is needed. It increases the volume of gelato and makes the texture smooth. Gelato, compared to sorbetto, requires more air due to its dense nature.


Homemade Gelato Unleashes Endless Flavor Choices

When you make homemade gelato, you have endless opportunities for flavors. Mamma Maria’s Italian Restaurant has a rotating lineup of homemade gelato flavors for you to try every visit. We offer fruity and sweet homemade gelato flavors every day for a satisfying end to your meal every time. Our gelato flavors are all made from scratch on-site every day. Nothing pairs better with homemade Italian cuisine like homemade gelato from Mamma Maria’s!


Try Our Italian Dinner Buffet, Catering, and More Today

When you want authentic Italian cuisine, Mamma Maria’s Italian Restaurant is the perfect spot. We offer our Italian dinner buffet which is perfect for family dinners and larger gatherings. We also offer catering on-site and off-site for your next family gathering or party. Our private banquet room is perfect for large groups to enjoy. Best of all, our homemade gelato, or “Italian ice cream,” is the perfect way to end your dining experience. Call (540) 389-2848 today to make your reservation.



In the mood for delicious, homemade gelato? Give Mamma Maria’s Italian Restaurant a call at (540) 389-2848 today. Check out our Facebook for updates, too. Visit us today for tasty homemade gelato.