“Sorbets and gelato are the products of the most refined human intelligence.” Thus wrote the Neapolitan doctor Filippo Baldini back in 1775, when he published the treatise, “De’ Sorbetti”, where he stated that gelato and sorbets are good both for the body and mind, describing their positive effects on health and mood
(for anybody needing a scientific proof).
By Theresa Poalucci
The first time I ever had gelato I was in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. It was a long time ago, but I still remember the richness in flavor and the smooth thick texture of the cold treat, that was somehow lighter than regular ice cream.
Today, gelato can be found just about anywhere in the U.S., and in Tucson there are many choices, one of which is truly Italian — Giovanni’s Gelato Café.
Giovanni Rizza immigrated to American, with a wife and two children in 1967 when there was virtually no work to found in his native Sicily.
“A lot of people wanted to come to America for opportunity,” said Rizza. “It was hard at first, but there was so much work! You could find a job in no time.”
Rizza was a plumber by trade and he eventually settled in Chicago. He also found that he loved to vacation in the Southwest, in particular Tucson.
“I have been coming here for 20-years now, dabbling in real estate,” he explained. “I love the area, so it was easy to decide to retire in Tucson.”
Rizza had always held onto the idea of opening a gelato shop in Tucson, so when he relocated to the area with his wife Agnes he purchased some property, taking one of the retail spots for his new shop and building in the Italian ambiance he had so long planned for.
“My wife makes all the gelato,” said Rizza, explaining that she alone makes all the shop needs, using only the best Italian ingredients, and using the number one gelato making machine on the market also imported from Italy.
Called Giovanni’s Gelato Café, there are 45 flavors to choose from. Agnes received culinary training in Southern California and also in Italy. She has created a few flavors that are unique to Giovanni’s, such as an orange sorbet with Pecans. Rizza says she also invented a flavor she named after him which includes coffee, chocolate, coconut, rum and raisins. The number one seller at Giovanni’s salted caramel gelato.
Among the choices are nine sorbets which contain no milk — perfect for those who need to stay away from dairy.
Rizza says that gelato contains less fat and sugar than ice cream. It also requires a different kind of machine to make it, as gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream making it denser because less air is whipped into the mixture. Gelato is also served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream.
Visit Giovanni’s and you can also try their cannoli, tiramisu or cheesecake. You can also opt for a delicious cappuccino or other coffee drink made with strong imported Italian grounds.
The café also offers catering services, having imported a gelato cart from Italy. Recently they served 500 guests at the Hilton. Agnes started preparing the gelato for this event at 9 am and finished at 6 am the next day. Normally her daily routine is to make a dozen or so flavors each day.
Rizza still travels to Italy to visit his brothers and sisters, but he simply has to take a bite of his wife’s gelato to experience the flavor of his homeland here in the desert.
“I want our customers to know that everything in Giovanni’s is 100% Italian,” he concluded, “including me. At Giovanni’s we make gelato ‘you can’t refuse.’”
Giovanni knows gelato