Bonnie: Every time I attended the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s event (better known as the Fancy Food Show), I’d stop by the Ciao Bella booth to sample their newest flavors of sorbets and Italian-style ice creams.
I’d always inquire whether these delicious desserts, which were available in a scoop shop in Manhattan and in restaurants, were yet available in supermarkets so that I could write about them. They weren’t for quite some time. Ciao Bella is now available in many pre-portioned varieties in supermarkets, club stores and specialty markets.
I’m partial to the tart-yet-sweet flavor of the blood orange. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a real blood orange product I didn’t like.
(I used to recommend to friends visiting Manhattan the perfect blood orange Cosmo at the now-defunct Town restaurant; David Chang’s Ma Peche is now in that spot at the Chambers Hotel on 56th Street.)
Back to these portable indulgences that are truly delicious and worth every refreshing calorie. We selected the blood orange, but also liked their hot-pink-colored prickly pear and flavorful ginger peach sorbets. And the fresh-tasting Mint Chocolate Chip gelato is not to be missed.
Bryan: I do not like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I never order it. I will still never order it, but I will continue to buy and love Ciao Bella Gelato’s Mint Leaf Chip ice cream.
The reason: It’s the horribly artificial flavor that I can’t stand. I’m not talking about Ciao Bella here; I’m talking about every other disgusting looking, neon green, so-called ice cream that I’ve been offered throughout my life when somebody has uttered “mint chocolate chip.” The average product should be ashamed to use the words mint or chocolate; it has none of the former and little of the latter.
But, this is something different. Ciao Bella! This is a wonderful, refreshing, renewing, palate-cleansing, sweet-tooth satisfying, chocolate-lovers and fresh-mint-enthusiasts dream! Though that might sound like a lot of adjectives to originate from a precious few simple ingredients (milk, cream, sugar, chocolate and mint), hey, that’s the beauty of ice cream people! Simple, sublime… it’s what heaven’s pool is filled with. But Ciao Bella goes even further. “Astounding” was the only word I could ascribe to it. And remember, I don’t like mint! Or, at least I thought I didn’t.
Bonnie called to ask me about the Ciao Bella sorbets. I said that they were great, but that if we didn’t write about the mint leaf chip gelato, it would be a travesty. “I, the mint chocolate chip hater that I am, must share this ice cream with the people,” I declared! What I realized was that I didn’t hate mint, I hated artificial mint and mint flavoring. Ciao Bella tastes like vanilla ice cream mixed with fresh mint from the garden. It’s unique, it’s amazing and it’s worth trying. You’ll not find higher acclaim for mint chocolate chip from me.
Eric: Ciao Bella is a refreshing example of simplicity done right. Of all my food-related weaknesses, ice cream is one of the indulgences I will never give up — and I’m lactose-intolerant. Rarely did I find myself walking down the ice cream aisle of a supermarket seeking out sorbet; that is until now.
Let me first get this out of the way: I love mint, I love chocolate chips and I love ice cream. The mint leaf chip variety ranks up there with my top flavors; it is divine!
I never knew I was such a sorbet fan until I popped open the top to the Ciao Bella Blood Orange, Sicilian Lemon and Prickly Pear varieties. I would never doubt that the combination of fruit and ice could taste good, but in the past, I’ve just been disappointed at most companies’ attempts at mass-producing it. With almost 1/4 of the calories, none of the fat and all of the taste, Ciao Bella sorbet has become my new dessert vice.