For one reason or another, Tucson, a city that regularly sees triple-digit temperatures during the summer, doesn’t have an overflowing amount of ice cream shops. If you have any snowbird friends, they’ll probably tell you there are more ice cream parlors in their Michigan or Pennsylvania or Iowa hometowns. One would think it would be the opposite, and yet if you want a scoop of the good stuff you don’t have that many easily accessible choices (with some of the better tasting ice creams and gelatos forcing you to deal with downtown parking or driving up to the La Encantada shopping center). Thankfully, a new option is opening up, so you won’t have to travel as far or wait as long to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.
Bella’s Gelato Shoppe is opening its doors at the easily accessible location of 2648 East Speedway (the grand opening is on Friday, July 2, which is the perfect way to kick off your 4th of July weekend).
If the name sounds familiar it’s because Bella’s has been around for some time, only in the form of a food (gelato) truck. Demand for her gelato proved strong enough the decision was made to move into a physical location, which means if you’ve had the gelato before you’ll now be able to grab it throughout the day.
It will prove interesting to see how the location does because if the address is ringing a bell, it’s because it once housed a Baskin-Robbins, which shut down before the pandemic. That meant some of the necessary equipment for the new Bella’s Gelato Shoppe was already on-site, including the display cases (the Baskin-Robbins ice cream wasn’t typically made on the spot, so that was brought in and installed).
Elizabeth Sebring is the current owner of Bella’s Gelato Shoppe, although she is not the founder. She bought the truck from Lisa Erickson and Ken Dungey back in 2015 and has been running it ever since. She is hoping Tucson will be craving homemade gelato instead of the off-site, chain brand Baskin-Robbins
While gelato is sometimes described as ice cream, the two are not the same. While both ice cream and gelato use cream, sugar, and milk, gelato uses more milk and less cream, which in turn gives it a smoother, more elastic texture. When you dip a spoon into gelato it is more likely to pull away similar to melted cheese (whereas ice cream will just scoop out). Gelato, when traditionally made, does not include egg yolks, which is an ingredient in ice cream.
Gelato also tends to be healthier for you. To make the density of traditional ice cream, the treat will have upwards of 25 percent butterfat (even the “healthy” options will be between 10 and 15 percent). A traditional gelato, which is Italian, will yield somewhere between four and nine percent butterfat.
If you sometimes have a stomach ache after indulging in ice cream it isn’t always because of the dairy. It is also because of the air mixture. Ice cream contains more air than gelato, so when you consume ice cream the pockets of air you’re swallowing can lead to some indigestion, bloating, and burping. Gelato is denser so you won’t have this issue.
If you haven’t sampled gelato before, this upcoming Fourth of July weekend will be the perfect time to do so. Stop by Bella’s Gelato Shoppe, say hi, and sample some of the sweet treats. You might discover a newfound favorite.
As for hours of operation those are still being determined. To stay on top of what's going on with Bella's Gelato Shoppe make sure to follow them on Facebook.