In The Heat, Find Relief In Gelato

June 23, 2020

(Photos from 2019)

 

With warmer temperatures  on the rise, ice cream might be on the minds of many. 

 

As New York UnPauses, a Clinton eatery has guidelines in place to sell sweet treats safely.

 

The Cremeria, a gelato shop in Clinton that turned one year old in April, is offering online ordering with curbside pickup or local delivery. People can also order in the shop.

 

The gelato shop on College Street remained open through the fall and winter seasons with reduced hours. The Cremeria is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 8 p.m. and Sundays 12 to 6 p.m.

 

At the helm of the successful gelato shop is entrepreneur Maria Macrina. Macrina is an expert on gelato. So much so that when she had the idea to start a gelato business, she went to Italy to study how it’s made.

 

Gelato is something that’s central in Macrina’s life. She said her family made it a mission to eat gelato in as many places as possible.

 

“As an Italian family, any time we went anywhere here in the U.S., we would look for gelato. It was kind of a family occurrence. You go to a new city; you seek out gelato. It was a fun adventure for us all growing up,” she said.

 

During her time at Brown University in 2010, Macrina studied abroad in Italy. While there, she continued to be on the lookout for great-tasting gelato.

 

“Me and my friends would go, and we would try to find the best gelato spots,” she said. “Luckily, we had some awesome Italian friends who took us around and showed us the best spots.”

 

While in the Italian city of Bologna, Macrina found the gelato she sought. “In Bologna, in my opinion, gelato is at the highest level. That’s where fantastic gelato making is happening,” she said.

 

She did more traveling. “Finding gelato just became our mission,” she said. “We just happened to have these two places that were incredible in Bologna. 

 

“It was a fun thing to share. Anybody that would go to Italy, you’d tell them, ‘You’ve got to go check these places out.’”

 

She and her friends would always talk about the sweet treat. “It was like you discovered a fun secret, and you had to tell all your friends.”

 

When she came back from Italy and graduated from Brown, she started a four-year career as an industrial designer. She worked for a small, athletic startup in Providence, Rhode Island.

 

“We made athletic equipment. I did a lot of the product development and design. Then, I later did some marketing,” Macrina said.

 

She realized being in the athletic equipment business wasn’t a field she wanted to stay in. “That’s how gelato kept bubbling back to the surface,” she said.

 

“It wouldn’t go away,” she said. “The idea of gelato just stuck with me. I had always wanted to open an Italian bakery or something like that.

 

“Then, all of a sudden, it just kind of made sense. The two worlds collided, and I realized that gelato might be a really good business opportunity.”

 

She said gelato seemed like a field where you could really differentiate yourself.

 

In 2015, Macrina made the leap into the world of gelato. “I quit my job in Rhode Island, and decided to start with a cart back home.”

 

In July 2015 Macrina went back in Italy. “I reached out to one of the gelato makers at one of those fantastic shops,” and asked if she could learn how to make gelato.

 

Macrina said she did a lot of research ahead of the trip to Italy. She learned what made good gelato, and why her two favorite places in Bologna made it so well.

 

“I narrowed [my research] down to some different techniques and some different equipment and was able to discern how I wanted to learn  to make gelato,” she said. “There are many different ways to make gelato. I wanted to make sure I went with the most traditional, most authentic method.”

 

While in Italy, she spent just a week with the shop owner. “It was extremely intensive.” She also learned the science behind gelato.

 

Once she returned to the United States, it was game on. She got a kitchen together. She started work on building a gelato cart. She ordered gelato machinery from Italy.

 

“The main machine that I use is like the original gelato making machine,” she said. “It’s a very artisanal machine. You need to know gelato to use this machine. 

 

“That was my goal. Start with this machine, and try to learn the basics as best I could before I did anything else.” It took about eight months to get the gelato equipment from Italy and installed.

 

In April 2016 she started making gelato. A month later she was at an area event with a mobile gelato cart.

 

The cart, with its orange and teal color scheme, was wheeled to farmers markets, weddings and small festivals.

 

Because the response to the gelato she was selling was positive, she started a small wholesaling venture, selling gelato from a freezer in a cafe.

 

“I quickly realized I needed a shop,” she said. “The bread and butter of this business is having fresh gelato.”

 

Having a shop for gelato was always in the back of Macrina’s head. In Italy, her favorite gelato shops had a specific feel to them.

 

“It’s creating a space that people can come to you and enjoy and experience. It’s all about the experience,” she said.

 

Seeking out gelato as a kid with her family was a fun event for Macrina. When she started creating her shop on College Street, she said, “I wanted to be everyone’s gelato shop.”

 

Near the end of April last year, Macrina opened The Cremeria. The shop’s small interior gives it a cafe feel. Space is utilized extremely well in the eatery. 

 

There’s seating for about 12 people, and there’s a leaning rail for about three people to stand and eat around a round table. (These will be available again when Covid-19 restrictions are removed.)

 

Detail is everything in the shop. Macrina ordered tile from California for the front counter and colored grout from West Virginia. “I didn’t realize the depths that handmade tile opened up.” There are also custom metal pieces in the shop as well.

 

Available flavors of gelato change daily in Macrina’s shop. They include raspberry and strawberry to chocolate and even cantaloupe. 

 

There are vegan gelato options available. Various coffee drinks and milkshakes are also available.

 

A new menu item at The Cremeria is the option to get your gelato in a cone. The gluten-free cones are handmade on site, using a cone-making machine from Italy. Also being offered are desserts by The Dessert Booth.

 

Macrina is excited to keep supplying the Clinton area with gelato. “I feel like I haven’t even scraped the surface with the actual gelato making.”

 

She said her business has grown to where people are responding positively to the product she makes. Her plans include “honing in on the gelato. I’m constantly and forever tweaking recipes,” she said. “I just can’t sit still.”

 

Clinton, she said, is a great spot for her shop. “I went up and down the East Coast looking for cute little towns to open up a gelato shop,” she said. “I realized that none of them were my town.”

 

Although Clinton is not her hometown - she is a VVS graduate and lives in Sherrill - Clinton seemed like a fantastic choice, she said.

 

“It’s such a community-oriented place,” she said of the village. “Once I went to all those other towns, I realized Clinton was a perfect spot.”

 

For a list of daily gelato flavors, follow The Cremeria on Facebook or Instagram. Hours are posted on social media. 

 

Customers can also visit www.thecremeria.com for more information. The website also is set up for online ordering for curbside pick up or local delivery.

 

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