Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gelateria Artigianale Marameo

Address: Piazza Fabbri, 3, Cesena (FC), Italy, 47023. 3487386806.

Review: Cesena is not a tourist destination. In fact, I had never been until last night, and then only because my wife's program was performing Rigoletto there. In the downtime before the performance, we trekked through the city, which was dead like a doornail on that breezy Sunday afternoon.

While seeing the town, we happened upon Gelateria Artigianale Marameo.

The proprietors are a very nice old couple who were open specifically because they know the opera would let out around midnight and droves would flock for a post-Rigoletto gelato nightcap. We talked for in excess of fifteen minutes about gelato, America, family, etc., etc., etc. During the conversation, they let us taste five or six different flavors, all of which were quite good. Needless to say, at the end of the opera we returned and partook.

We started with the zabaglione (a slowly cooked custard) and cioccolato fondente (extra-dark chocolate). The zabaglione was in a word: amazing. The custard base was sweet and thick, and the gelato had a gorgeous velvety feel on the tongue. The wonderful thing about this flavor was its simplicity. There are no add-ins or anything artificial. Nothing but custard made of eggs, milk, sugar, and as I found out upon eating my second cup, sweet marsala and brandy, and then frozen to a state of awesomeness. Oh, and the chocolate was pretty darn good as well. Creamy, not very sweet, chocolate laden from head to foot. The combination was great, but I could have eaten a gallon of zabaglione without accompaniment --- or a spoon, for that matter.

We also purchased some fruit flavors, specifically: melone (cantaloupe), pompelmo rosa (pink grapefruit), and pesca (peach).

Let's start with the pink grapefruit. Now, normally I disdain grapefruit. In fact, I find it and its aggressive sourness to be without redemptive value. And yet somehow, notwithstanding this longstanding disdain, I thoroughly enjoyed this gelato. Somehow, I tasted all of the grapefruit's citrus fruitiness, but little of its sourness. And the sourness that remained made the flavor interesting and contrasting. The cantaloupe was wonderfully smooth and possessed and upfront ripe-melon flavor. Melon is that quintessential summer flavor, and this gelato should be summer's quintessential flavor. The peach was, likewise, quite good. Honestly, it got lost a bit wedged between the melon and grapefruit, as it is a milder fruit, but it was fruity and moderately sweet in a very good way.

Oh, and I have to comment on one other flavor: ricotta e fichi (ricotta with figs). You (read: me) wouldn't think that finding large pieces of ricotta curd in your gelato would be a good thing, but you (read: me) would be totally wrong. Those ever so slightly savory curds help balance out the sweetness of the figs, creating one of the most ingenius gelato flavors I've ever eaten. Wonderful stuff.

If there's one thing I've learned in my years of eating gelato it's this: gelaterie that make good chocolate-based flavors usually don't make good fruit flavors. Marameo is an exception to that rule. Both the chocolate and the fruit flavors were sublime. Heck, everything was good. This place is a treasure located in the middle of a little nothing city. Having eaten at the ultra-famous Vivoli gelateria in Firenze the night previous to finding Marameo, I can say, unequivocally, that Marameo kicks Vivoli's a#$.

Rating: 8.5/10 (5/10 is average).

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