Paciugo Gelato in MOA--the best Italian ice cream in the Twin Cities?

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"I scream, you scream, we all scream for...gelato!"
The Twin Cities are definitely ice cream towns--wherever you go, you always seem to be within a cone's toss of a scoop shop. But gelato, the Italians' favorite frozen dairy treat, can be hard to come by locally, and somehow never tastes as luxurious as the cone of pistachio you licked while strolling through the villages of Cinque Terre.

I thought that the gelato I've tried most recently, Jackson's, was okay, but not quite as good as the stuff at Fat Lorenzo's and Amy's Classic Confections. But the newest shop to come to town, the Dallas-based chain Paciugo, may have the most promise of our local gelaterias. Here's why:

First, the place offers about 30 options of gelato and sorbet from a rotating list of around 300 flavors. They have classic Italian flavors such as Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut) but also nod to other international and local tastes, including gelatos made with from Asian durian and Minnesotan Surly beer.

Second, the staff doesn't get annoyed when you ask to try a million flavors. They might even rush out from the back of the shop with a bunch of samples of the freshest batch of Hunka-Hunka Burnin' Chocolate for everyone in line to taste. Nice!

Third, Paciugo offers these cool three-flavor, Styrofoam take-home containers to tote with you after a hard day of shopping. I tried the Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate Eggnog, and Pannacotta (Wedding Cake) gelatos, all of which had nicely balanced flavor and a light, velvety, quick-melting texture.

Another great gelato fact as we head into the season of holiday overindulgence: it's made with whole milk, instead of cream. The gelato at Paciugo contains about 70 percent less fat than American ice cream, so 100 grams of Pannacotta means about 150 calories.

Paciugo
392 West Market
Mall of America, Bloomington
952-814-3528
www.paciugo.com


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