In a (always crowded) kiosk on the seafront of Reggio Calabria, there is one of the best gelaterias in Italy

Apr 3 2024, 13:42
The long queue is a constant, as well as the quality of the gelato that earned Gelato Cesare in Reggio Calabria the highest recognition from the Gelaterie d'Italia guide in 2024

"For D'Annunzio, it was the most beautiful kilometer in Italy, for me, it's also home," says Davide Destefano of Gelato Cesare, a kiosk that has been accompanying the people of Reggio for over a hundred years. "There isn't a person from Reggio who doesn't know it, all generations have passed through here." Once a simple bar selling "gassose with a ball" and coffee, over the years and with the tenacity of the Destefano family, it has transformed into one of the best gelaterias in our country, according to our latest Gelaterie d'Italia guide.

The history of Gelato Cesare in Reggio Calabria

"After the disastrous earthquake of 1908, which marked the end for many businesses, buildings, meeting points, there was a need to start over, to take back the fate of a community that had lost so much, especially in human terms. It is from these foundations that the current seafront and the small green kiosk with the attached bar were born." The kiosk was taken over by the Destefano family in 1940. "With the second generation, especially with my father Cesare, there was a leap in quality thanks to the intuition of focusing on gelato, deepening its knowledge and taking care of its production, following the best artisanal processes." The first flavors to find a place in Cesare's kiosk were fiordilatte, hazelnut, coffee, strawberry, and lemon, "few flavors, but of excellent quality: my father created the first pure gelateria in Reggio Calabria - it was outdated in the '70s - and today we reap the rewards; the kiosk has become a reference point for the whole city, the people of Reggio often choose it as a meeting point, as the starting point for a pleasant walk on the seafront or for a visit to the National Archaeological Museum to see the Bronzes of Riace. Indeed, the Calabrian climate helps, but the people of Reggio have been eating gelato even in the winter for years."

Flavors inspired by Calabrian products

And this has positive repercussions, clearly, also in terms of organization: "We can afford to have stable collaborators indefinitely," explains Davide Destefano, always very attentive to the social sustainability of his kiosk. "When I started working in my father's gelateria, I first learned, and then made changes. I re-equipped the laboratory, opting for horizontal churns, and increased the number of flavors on display - there are about forty today - including local raw materials," from bergamot to licorice, gelato here is a tool to make known and appreciate local products.
"Our mango is from Calabria, it comes from a company that used to export mainly abroad. After talking to the producer, we agreed to a supply of 1,500 kilos of mangoes per year, even those with some visual defects, an amount that allows us to cover the annual needs and fairly remunerate the producer, who thus has a margin sufficient to advance his agricultural company." Davide doesn't say it, we ascertain it: in this case, social and economic sustainability also involves non-seasonal flavors. "When the mangoes arrive, we process them and vacuum-pack them, in this way we have local mango available throughout the year. We are pursuing the same approach with avocado, passion fruit, local figs. It is important to create a virtuous circle with local producers, also for environmental reasons," explains Davide.

The right price for gelato

His "Flavors of Reggio Calabria" based, precisely, on bergamot, is a must-try, but whatever flavor you choose from Cesare, the common thread remains the exaltation of the characteristic ingredient, which also passes through the choice of water, no tap water but only mineral water, always from the area: "In the production of gelato, there should be no aftertastes of any kind, even just a slight hint of chlorine." But how much does gelato with so many "precautions" cost? "The minimum price per kilo should be 25 euros or, speaking in terms of a gelato cone, it should be around 3.5 euros. Less than that, gelato loses its value: ridiculous prices lead the artisan to use very poor quality raw materials or to take advantage of their employees. The gelato world needs a change of direction, otherwise we continue to complain (fortunately not our case) that we can't find personnel anymore. Let's remunerate the employees fairly, let's remunerate the suppliers fairly, let's charge the right price for gelato."

Gelato Cesare - Reggio Calabria - piazza Indipendenza, 2 - 392 9402220 -

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