A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Unless its petals are made of Amorino Gelato, then its aroma is likely even sweeter. And Houstonians don't have to wait long to savor the perfumes of speculoos or lime-and-basil. According to franchisee Nathalie Debbouzzi, she and husband Sebastien will open the city's first location (there will likely be more soon) of the more-than-150-strong, Italian-owned chain in August. Luigi Caroggio, CEO of Amorino USA, however, hints that estimate is "hopefully on the conservative side."
When the gelateria actually opens, it will be the first sweets specialist to fill a storefront at River Oaks District, already home to Toulouse, Taverna and Hopdoddy Burger Bar, among others. Why did Amorino choose Houston for its latest expansion? "It has a good climatic condition for us to generate revenue," Caroggio says of the city's long summers. The opening of River Oaks District was also a boon. Caroggio explains, "We consider ourselves a luxury retailer with a luxury product," as such, Amorino stores tend to open surrounded by luxe shopping like the Chopard, Cartier and Dior boutiques that fill River Oaks District.
The product itself is suitably fancy. The gelato is manufactured in the Paris suburb of Orly at a commissary that supplies stores from San Francisco to Seoul. Caroggio says that the number of flavors at each store varies, but there are typically 25 available each season. His current favorite: vegan ginger-blood orange.
That's right, vegan. Gelati are made using organic milk and eggs, but many flavors are actually sorbetti whipped to a creamy texture without the aid of animal products. Those options also include Brazilian banana, organic Sicilian citrus and Mawardi pistachio. Caroggio says the company is also "moving very fast to 100-percent gluten-free" for its frozen treats.
And what of those who can enjoy their sweets without restriction? They'll find creamy gelato laced with sour Amarena cherries, flavored with gianduja or made to taste like tiramisu, all crafted from nothing but natural ingredients. And Caroggio emphasizes that customers can try as many as they want. Back to those rose-shaped scoops—each petal can be a different flavor or all the same. So it turns out, the uncommonly complex construction is functional as well as beautiful. And when Amorino opens in Houston, there's no question what new foodstuff will be breaking Instagram.