If you’d like to make your taste buds dance and your heart happy then there is a special place in downtown Westerly that you just have to visit. It’s called Pompelmo Gelateria, a delightful shop that sells homemade delicious gelato and sorbetto in all sorts of unique flavors. This month they will celebrate their first anniversary in business. What’s neat is that their start-up story is as cool as the tasty treats they sell!
About five years ago, Melanie Wolf, a Spanish professor at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College, had the idea to start a summer business to have something to do between the spring and fall semesters. She and her husband, Denis St. Amand, a commercial fisherman, started talking about the possibilities. They noticed ice cream shops with long lines of people waiting to buy treats on hot summer days and started to consider a similar venture. That was about five years ago.
During their business discernment process Melanie, having been born and raised in Argentina, but now living in Rhode Island, went home for a visit. She remembered eating delicious gelato and sorbet throughout her youth in Argentina and while there she visited some of her father’s friends who were in the business. They encouraged her to learn how to make her own gelato and sorbet instead of buying it from elsewhere and just selling it. This opened up a new path for Melanie and Denis. They explored the idea of making their own products and for the next couple of years they traveled to Italy to take courses in Bologna, which Melanie says is the “hub of gelato” and even attended “Gelato University”! Little by little they were getting closer to making their small business dream come true.
They looked in various Rhode Island towns for a spot to plant their business, and ultimately found their ideal location at 31 High Street in Westerly while strolling through downtown after dining at Mia’s restaurant. The rest as they say, is history.
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Pompelmo fits in nicely with Westerly’s growing downtown district and their products connect nicely with Westerly’s Italian heritage. Pompelmo’s is nestled between Nigrelli’s Jewelers and Mary D’s Antiques, and just steps away from Miceli’s Furniture store and Homespun Antiques.
Melanie explained to this writer how gelato and sorbet are different from traditional American ice cream. Gelato is Italian ice cream, which is is lighter than American ice cream and not as cold, so the first thing people taste is the flavor and not a sense of coldness and then the flavor. It is also about half the calories of traditional ice cream. Sorbet is a non-dairy treat made with sugar water and fruit.
Pompelmo’s products are freshly made on site daily by Melanie and only the best ingredients are used. As Melanie says, her products are “made with love, and care, and I take a lot of pride in it.”
On any given day, there are about 20 different flavors in the showcase. Some of the enticing flavors customers can enjoy are Dark Chocolate Sorbet, Forest Berries, Raspberry Lemonade, Mocha Gelato, Custard, Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Cookie Monster, and Crema Golosa. In addition, customers can purchase Gelato pops, pints to go, as well as espresso, cappuccino and Macchiato and Lattes, tea and more.
Why the name Pompelmo Gelateria? Well, in Italian the word pompelmo means “grapefruit”. Melanie thought it described their products because they are both fresh and refreshing, and they wanted an Italian name that was unique, and “Pompelmo” is certainly that! Customers can quickly notice they are at their gelato destination by the big grapefruit on the shop window!
Pompelmo is participating in “The Incredible Ice Cream Throwdown” in Providence on July 16th at 1:00 PM. This is a judged event and people taste and vote for the best ice cream. If you’d like to support Pompelmo Gelateria, get your tickets today as this event usually sells out (www.rifoodfights.com).
Pompelmo is open year round and they are open seven days a week: Monday – Thursday 1:00-9:00, Friday 1:00-10:00, Saturday 12:00-10:00, and Sunday 12:00-9:00.
Melanie went back to Italy again as recently as this last January 2017 to get more training. She and Denis are considering expanding their product line and services to include catering and weddings, so stay tuned to see what this delightful little business will offer the Westerly community!