BATAVIA – One episode of “60 minutes” was all it took to seal the deal. The CBS television series covered a story about everyday Americans whisking off to Italy to study gelato-making at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna and coming back to set up shop on American soil.
With an inherent affinity for authentic gelato and all things Italian, married couple Andrea and Tory Chiappelli of Batavia decided to do just that.
Upon completion of the Carpigiani Gelato University course, the Chiappellis – with the help of business partner Tony Natale (formerly of Caserta, Italy) – opened the gelateria O’ Sole Mio along River Street in downtown Batavia in March 2013.
“Gelato is no joke; they take it seriously [in Italy],” owner Tory Chiappelli said of the intensive two-week course, which was solely taught in Italian. “In Italy, there’s a gelato shop on every corner. In the U.S., they are few and far between.”
The name O’ Sole Mio – which translates to “Oh, My Sun” – came from a song by opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, and it also was the name of the couple’s favorite neighborhood pizzeria in Andrea Chiappelli’s hometown of Modena, Italy.
“Our tagline is bringing the Italian sun to Batavia,” Tory Chiappelli said, adding that she enjoys introducing authentic Italian fare to the Fox Valley community.
Since O’ Sole Mio’s inception a year ago, Tory Chiappelli has concocted more than 300 recipes as the head gelato chef, and she creates new flavors in the restaurant’s gelato lab nearly every day.
After a successful summer and having to sustain the gumption needed to sell frozen dessert in one of the worst winters the area has seen in years, O’ Sole Mio, which has recently morphed into a full restaurant, will do what it does best – but this time – on a national stage.
The Italian eatery will compete in the Gelato World Tour in Austin, Texas, from Friday, May 9, to Sunday, May 11, when artisan gelato chefs across the U.S. will battle it out for the taste of sweet victory and a chance to represent the U.S. in a world competition.
“I think it would be really amazing if we placed,” said Tory Chiappelli, who decided to enter the flavor Orange Blossom after a visit to California to see her mother. “I thought it was unique enough but simple enough. I didn’t want it really sweet; we have a bunch of Italian judges, and they don’t do really sweet stuff in Italy. … We got a really great response in California when we made the gelato there.”
Deciding which flavor to submit was no easy task, as the restaurant doesn’t have a signature flavor, Tory Chiappelli said.
A Facebook callout for customers’ choices didn’t help with narrowing down the flavor database, but she said Orange Blossom will be available to try at O’ Sole Mio for an extra dose of feedback before the couple leaves for the competition.
First-round judging for the competition, which already has toured countries such as Spain, Italy and Australia, will be executed by trade associations and experts that will select 16 U.S. gelato artisans based on a contestant’s single best flavor.
The top three winners will represent the U.S. at the grand finale of the Gelato World Tour, which will take place Sept. 5 through 7 in Rimini, Italy, where the global gelato event winners will compete for the title of World´s Best Gelato.
Placing in the competition would give O’ Sole Mio bragging rights, but – more importantly – Tory Chiappelli said it would help the owners’ ultimate goal in branching out to other locations.
“I would love to have [a gelato shop] in every state; take the world over one scoop at a time,” she said with a laugh.
There's more ... • FOOD: O’ Sole Mio now serves dinner and offers a menu that features northern Italian fare, such as poached salmon with mushroom risotto. Other menu items include antipasti, soups, salads, paninis, pasta, a bruschetta sampler, a six-flavor gelato sampler, an all-you-can-eat weekend breakfast bar and assorted American and Italian coffee drinks.
• FULL BAR: The restaurant has a full bar with wine flights, beer, specialty drinks, martinis, an adult hot-chocolate menu and an ice-cream float menu with alcohol-infused concoctions.
• ENTERTAINMENT: The eatery hosts wine and canvas painting parties. (The next wine and canvas nights will be Thursday, April 17, and Sunday, April 27. Check O’ Sole Mio’s Facebook page to sign up.) The eatery also has live music on Friday and Saturdays and a seasonal outdoor patio.
If you go
WHAT: O' Sole Mio WHERE: 27 N. River St., Batavia HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; and closed Monday INFO: 630-454-4536 or www.osolemiogelato.com