Ramona Fantini tasted her first spoonful of gelato while vacationing in Florence, Italy, in 2002. She was immediately taken with the cold, smooth dessert, and knew that people back home in America would love it too. So when she returned from her vacation, she left her corporate position and opened Pino Gelato. At her shop, artisans use a precise technique and special equipment to concoct small batches of the Italian dessert, blending fresh fruit, actual espresso, and other wholesome ingredients with milk. The result is a treat that is denser and lower in fat than ice cream, and unlike ice cream, doesn't cause everyone to scream.
In the years since Fantini starting making gelato, her business has expanded to multiple locations throughout the Southeast. At each shop, her baristas scoop gelato and dairy-free sorbetto into cups and cones and brew specialty café drinks to pair with pastries. At lunchtime, patrons can bite into an unconventional snack lauded by the Food Network: handheld cones of pizza crust filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and other savory ingredients.