Bella Gelateria
By Michelle Hopkins

Vancouver's own maestro gelatiere

Since the early 2000s, gelato has exploded in popularity in the Lower Mainland. Yaletown fans of Italy's ultimate cold and creamy treat can get their fix at Bella Gelateria, one of Vancouver’s hottest spot for that authentic taste of Florence.

“Vancouver is home to more gelato and ice cream shops than anywhere else in North America,” says James Coleridge, CEO and maestro gelatiere at Bella Gelateria. “Armed with my education and making gelato from scratch, which very few do, I feel like I am protecting the Old World process that Italy has bestowed upon us.”

Overlooking the waters of False Creek, Bella Gelateria offers an ideal spot for an 80-seat restaurant and patio, which are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to gelato, the extensive menu features Napoletana-style pizzas baked in an authentic stone oven James had shipped from Naples. It's also home to Carpigiani Gelato University’s first North American branch, where James trains gelato interns from all over the world.

Armed with my education and making gelato from scratch, which very few do, I feel like I am protecting the old world process that Italy has bestowed upon us. - James Coleridge, CEO and maestro gelatiere

The world’s best

Whatever James is doing, he must be doing right – fans of the sweet stuff are coming in droves to Bella Gelateria to sample his artisanal gelato. The award-winning maestro and graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of Italy has garnered a parade of accolades from across the globe.

During the International Florence Gelato Festival in 2012, James took home the honour of being named the first non-Italian to win the title International Gelato Master of the Year – not to mention his toasted pecan gelato infused with sea salt and Quebec maple syrup garnered the People's Choice Award as well.

At Bella Gelateria, James believes he is not just making a product, but also upholding the integrity of the true art of artisan gelato making itself. He says he's the first in North America to use the state-of-the-art insulated stainless steel Pozzetti cabinet that stores gelato at a constant temperature.

Bella Gelateria's authentic Italian menu includes thin-crust pizzas and old world gelato.
Bella Gelateria's authentic Italian menu includes thin-crust pizzas and old world gelato. Photo courtesy of Bella Gelateria

True gelato: artisanal and fresh

James works closely with local farmers to buy the freshest and best ingredients, including blueberries, apples, strawberries and honey. It's the purity of these ingredients that stands out in his signature flavours, many of which are handcrafted (not manufactured) and change with the seasons – think whiskey fudge, vanilla matcha cookie dough, Moroccan lemon and a Persian-inspired Akbar Mashti.

On any given day, customers at Bella Gelateria can choose from 42 different flavours, depending on what’s in season or available. “Seventy-five per cent are constant standards and the other 25 per cent I like to call Willy Wonka,” quips James of his rotating flavour options.

James explains that real gelato is never made in large batches; rather, it is made fresh daily – ideally several times a day – in order to preserve its flavour and silkiness, and to avoid crystallization. A genuine “artisanal” approach suggests a completely handcrafted product.

“It’s about making the best, not the most,” James explains. “I use only raw, unprocessed ingredients in my gelato and that's what makes it a true artisanal gelato. I feel so lucky to do this," he adds. "I don’t work – I play.”

Bella Gelateria's 80-seat restaurant and patio are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bella Gelateria's 80-seat restaurant and patio are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Photo courtesy of Bella Gelateria
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