Thursday, June 27, 2013

You say tomato, J.P. Graziano says gelato

Posted By on 06.27.13 at 01:19 PM

tomato and pistachio gelato, J.P. Graziano
  • Mike Sula
  • Tomato and pistachio gelato
If I had tasted it sooner I'd have submitted the gelato that they're pushing at J.P. Graziano for last week's Best of Chicago issue. Launched a few weeks ago for the great Italian imports/sandwich shop's 76th anniversary, it's the result of a yearlong collaboration between Jim Graziano and Baume & Brix chef Ben Roche. Graziano supplies the flavorings: roasted pistachios, neroli bitter orange extract, cocoa nibs, unsweetened blood orange juice, and Campari tomatoes—to name a few. Roche adds them to cream, sugar, and salt, and applies liquid nitrogen, which freezes it faster, leading to smaller ice crystals.

They're just a tiny bit airier than a typical high-density gelato, but what I love about them is that they aren't over-the-top sweet, and they don't bludgeon you with their flavors, like, say, Black Dog Gelato does. That's to say that these are ice creams better eaten on their own, rather than as accents to composed restaurant desserts.

And that's right. I said tomatoes, which result in a subtly flavored, only mildly sweet gelato that finishes with just a breath of fruity meatiness that's not at all incompatible with an ice cream. The flavors will rotate, so I can't guarantee Graziano will be scooping out the tomato all the time, but the pistachio, which is so far the top seller—and the most intensely flavored—will be in regular rotation.

J.P. Graziano, 901 W. Randolph, 312-666-4587

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