Cold, velvety and exotic, it only takes one spoonful to send shivers across taste buds - Gelateria Uli churns mounds of small batch gelato and sorbetto in house everyday. Located in the Spring Arcade of the Historic Core, a glass case of 16 colorful flavors beg to be scooped by eager pointing fingers. Softly folded like cashmere sweaters, gelato flavor staples such as Chocolate, Stracciatella and Pistachio sit beside their bolder, more adventurous brethren like Salted Caramel, Saffron and Poblano. Tiny metal spoons carve into the smooth gelato, scoop up a dollop and carefully pass over the counter. It’s like witnessing a baton race and excitement increases sample after sample.
Uli Nasibova, owner and fellow Downtowner of 8 years, began churning gelato in her loft kitchen as a creative outlet from her wealth management career. Her hobby quickly developed into passion driven by the desire to give back to her community. “Downtown has magical energy about it, I am a part that fabric and this is my contribution.” Uli and her husband set up shop as one of the first tenants in the recently renovated Spring Arcade; staying true to revitalized Downtown charm, Gelateria Uli kept the Arcade’s 1900s flair while incorporating modern sensibility.
The gelateria tilts a nod to European cafes - small tables and chairs surround the shop and invite customers for an intimate gelato date. Production transparency comes into play as a large window allows customers to peer in and witness Uli churn creamy, fruity magic. She mashed ripened bananas into a silky puree and simultaneously worked between cleaning the Compacta 3003 and greeting customers. Her process is a show in itself and the kitchen is her stage.
The selection of rotating flavors is steered by the “Suggest a Flavor” program on their website. Every week Uli sifts through 500 submissions and chooses 1 to develop. Contenders are cultural favorites ranging from Ube, Halva, Poppy Seed and Black Sesame. Uli is challenged to perfect the flavors and meet the palate’s expectation. Come by any day of the week and let Gelateria Uli scoop up some happiness.
Janica de Guzman