Coletta Gelato Opens in SoMa

When a world-traveling Swede and a Nicaraguan-Italian decide to make gelato in San Francisco, the result is remarkably smooth.

Monday, January 23, Antonio Massimo and Henri Waltenspühl opened the doors of Coletta Gelato, a SoMa gelato shop that blends Old World technique with fresh new flavors, like Maldon Salt &
 Black Pepper, Amaretto Orange Zest & Almond, and Mint Chip Stracciatella. Named after Waltenspühl’s Italian grandmother Nicolletta, Coletta Gelato is the creamiest thing you’ll put in your mouth this month — at least as far as frozen delicacies are concerned.

Though born on opposite ends of the globe, both Maissimi and Waltenspühl share some surprising similarities. The son of an Italian Father and Nicaraguan mother, Venezuelan-born Massimini spent his summers in Milan visiting family. Likewise, Swiss native Waltenspühl was a frequent guest at his grandmother’s home in Alassio during the summer months of his childhood. As any child (or adult for that matter) is wont to do on a hot day in Italy, the boys grew up gorging themselves on creamy rich gelato.

Massimo and Waltenspühl went on to follow equally international professional paths. Between the two of them, the partners have lived and worked in Venezuela, Switzerland, Mexico, Madrid, Milan, Geneva, and Belgium. They met in January 2015, when both were enrolled in the Master of Management in Food & Beverage program at SDA Bocconi in Milan. The two bonded over their similar goals and mutual love of gelato, went on to attend Bologna’s Carpigiani Gelato University, and upon graduation, set their sights on making gelato in the Bay Area.

(A.K. Carroll)

Why San Francisco? Why not? Not only was it an international food mecca that neither partner had inhabited, it is also a prime location for quality local ingredients, like Guittard chocolate, local almonds, pistachios, and an abundance of fresh produce. But while the ingredients are Californian, the process (and machines) remain strictly Italian. In the back of the tiny storefront is a gelato lab where Massimo and Waltenspühl make and pasteurize their gelato base, fresh.

Made with more milk than cream, gelato contains less air than traditional ice cream. Therefore smoother, creamier, and more condensed. It is frozen solid, but served at a warmer temperature to maintain a silky creamy consistency. Massimo and Waltenspühl believe gelato should be “alive,” something that is consumed on the spot rather than saved for a rainy day. Still, packed pints to go will always be an option at Coletta.

Each day a new variety of gelatos and sorbettos — the grapefruit is ridiculous — will be available by the cone, the scoop or the pint. Prices range from $5-$12 depending on how much you can handle (or afford).

But let’s say you don’t want to trek to SoMa for your gelato fix. Later this year, the Coletta Cruiser, a bike-powered gelato stand will carry eight featured flavors throughout the city. In the meantime, look for the orange sherbet storefront, stop in for a sample, or two, or three, and decide for yourself if Coletta is a fair blend of Italian tradition and Bay Area innovation.

Coletta Gelato, 685 Harrison St., 415-795-3170 or

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