A little gelato shop in Maadi has become all the rage, making waves with their authentic Italian treat - but, why? Curious, as always, we sat down with the founders to find out how Stavolta went from a wishful thought to a full-blown brand.
One day, having just had lunch at a Cairo eatery, banker Nesrine Shaker turned to her screenwriter friend Ahmed Amer and asked, “What’s for dessert?” Frustrated by the limited choices, Ahmad sighed, “I would do anything for a gelato right now…” And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the “eureka!” moment that ignited the sweet gelato sensation sweeping the nation: Stavolta.
Like all the other factory-made millennials, we had to ask ourselves what the difference is between gelato and ice cream, and, more importantly, why not just get a Kimo Kono? Instead, we asked Amer, who explained that “Gelato has less fat content, it has more consistency, it is frothier, and it has to be fresh. Shaker and Amer flew to Italy shortly after that fateful lunch to research and study artisanal gelato making, and came back with two pieces of insider information: freshness and quality ingredients. The Italian refreshment has to be made every morning from scratch; otherwise, it loses its signature texture and turns into Kimo Kono. Oy vey! You didn’t hear it from us. Amer and Shaker came back determined to introduce gelato into Egypt’s gelaty culture with a cute little store established in Maadi five years ago.
It hasn’t been easy; “we didn’t want to go to Italy and buy a franchise because anyone can do that,” Amer says. “We wanted to create something special, so we created our own brand. We learned the Italian technique of making gelato and applied it here.” Rather than playing corporate executive dress-up, the duo had absolutely no problem getting their hands dirty. “When we opened our first store, Nesrine and I were the ones making the gelato for the first three months,” he added.These gelato artisans refuse to compromise freshness and quality. “We put so much time and effort into finding the ingredients,” Amer tells us. “We have to find the best ingredients; even if we don’t make that much money, we have to buy the best pistachios, the best cream, and so on. That’s why we have an open kitchen, so we can show people that we make it fresh, everyday!” he stressed.
Stavolta – Italian for ‘this time’, as in, “this time, we’ll have chocolate!” – is more of a labour of love than a business to these two. It’s Shaker and Amer’s ode to gelato! They are like two mad scientists in a lab, trying out any and everything that pops in their minds, like 7arankash (physalis) gelato or Halawa Tahiniya (Halvah) gelato. “We made prickly pear gelato,” Shaker said, and the results are absolutely mind-blowing. “There are things that we try that people don’t like; like, for instance, Tamarind. It wasn’t very popular. We tried green tea as a sorbet and it wasn’t popular either, and then we tried it as a gelato and it was a hit!” Shaker explained. “Whatever we have in season you will find in our fridge,” she added. Their biggest hits, however, are salted caramel and Stavolta gelato. The latter consists of white chocolate gelato, topped with dark chocolate and cream cheese; surely, you can see why it’s a crowd favourite. Their bountiful fridge caters to all dietary requirements - everything from sugar-free to coconut and soy milk-based gelato, so now even health conscious, tree hugging, vegans can enjoy gelato. Their take on the Italian street treat is nothing short of refreshingly bold, something they plan on maintaining by creating solid recipes and arming their staff with the proper training and know-how. You know what they say, those who risk, win, and boy are these two making a killing!