Josh and I recently got in the habit of ordering lots of food when we go out to eat. Once upon a time, we were young poor newlyweds who would share entrees, order MAYBE one drink to share, and never dream of ordering appetizers or desserts. But as our love for food grew, our checks for Friday night dinners grew as well. Slowly we started justifying two separate entrees, then appetizers, and more recently we started ordering dessert rather regularly as it became an educational experience for this pastry loving culinary student. Now we regularly walk out of restaurants full to the brim with delicious food that was topped off perfectly with a sweet treat.
On one of these occasions of waddling out to our car after getting our fill of food, we passed by Cafe Nonna in the Fletcher Place neighborhood of Indianapolis. Authentic Italian gelato in a cute little brick and mortar shop, how could I not stop and think about it? As someone that quite literally always has room for dessert, I looked to Josh who returned with a look that screamed “Are you crazy?!” He was right. We were too full. Regardless of the money we just spent at the restaurant, we definitely did not need more food. Clearly my eating habits need some adjustment, but anyways.
I kept thinking about Cafe Nonna and as soon as we possibly could, we returned to Fletcher Place to give it a try.
On this visit, we were met with lots of excitement from the young servers behind the counter who couldn’t wait to introduce us to their gelato.
“If you like hazelnut, you HAVE to try our hazelnut gelato. Here’s a sample!”
“My favorite is the salted caramel. Here, try it!”
“Pistachio is one of our best sellers. Want to try it?”
Of course we didn’t turn down any of their suggestions and requested a few more, which only overwhelmed us as every flavor was delicious! Surprisingly, both Josh and I strayed from our usual flavors to try something new- myself with chocolate hazelnut and toasted coconut and Josh with pistachio and lemon cream. As usual with gelato, a little goes a long way and thankfully they let us pack two flavors in their smallest serving so we could try more than one flavor. With the amount of flavors available that often change and the perfect location by some of our favorite restaurants in Indianapolis, we knew we would be coming to Cafe Nonna again and again.
Unlike many ice cream shops, Cafe Nonna has ample seating both indoor and outdoor so you can take your time with your treat and spend time chatting with your companions. No rush get out the door and make room, no matter how many customers line up at the counter. It’s the perfect after-dinner location when you’re out with friends.
On our next visit, we branched out with our flavors even more, tending towards traditions Italian flavors- Mascarpone, Amarena Cherry, Amaretto, and Zabaione. Unfortunately there weren’t any flavors with balsamic or I would’ve tried that as I do love me some balsamic. We loved each of these flavors that you don’t often find in traditional ice cream shops, each packing their own special punch. Josh compared his Zabaione ice cream to egg nog and couldn’t get enough. My favorite was the sweet and nutty Amaretto flavor.
As someone that has yet to go to Italy, I’m not well-versed in gelato. But I’ve had my fair share of American gelato from a number of locations and have thoroughly studied how to make all sorts of ice cream including traditional Italian gelato. With the help of the egg yolks, gelato should have a dense, creamy texture that holds up well on it’s own, achieving the piles of gelato as opposed to flat tubs you would find at a traditional American ice cream shop. Gelato should never have an icy texture and unfortunately I found Cafe Nonna’s gelato to be a bit more icy than other gelatos I’ve tried as it melted on the tongue into more of a watery texture than a thick cream.
When held to the standard of ice cream shops, however, Cafe Nonna beats any I’ve tried in Indiana and then some with their variety of flavors and creamy texture. I’ll keep coming back again and again to see what new flavors they’re offering and taste test some more. At some point I’ll try my traditional favorite flavors- dark chocolate and cookie dough.
And from now on I’ll be sure to never leave without a canolli. Their large cannolis were filled with the perfect ricotta cream with a slight hint of amaretto. Josh and I both had to hold back so we could get equal shares of the one we bought. Next time we’ll have to get two, so no tug-of-wars will ensue.
Oh Cafe Nonna. Thank you for gracing Indianapolis with your presence. Every city needs that perfect sweet spot and you hit it right on the mark.