Growing up, Nick Ianuzzi’s name wasn’t an easy one for his friends to pronounce, so he’d often get called simply “Nuzzi.” The name had immigrated with his grandfather from Southern Italy and now it’s the name on the artisan gelato the Nick, a Vestavia Hills resident, has made his trade. You can find Nuzzi Gelato at Pepper Place Market on Saturday mornings this summer and their new truck at lots of other spots and events around town all week long. Follow them on social media @nuzzigelato for updates on their stops.
How did you get into gelato making?
I am from an Italian family, but I actually didn’t have gelato until my brother and I studied abroad in Italy. We would have it almost every day and walk a long way to get good gelato. When I got back to Birmingham, I couldn’t find the same quality of product I had over in Italy, so I wanted to share that with people here and be able to have the opportunity to make it myself.
At first I tried to make it myself, but it wouldn’t turn out right, so I went and studied under an Italian gelateria in New York. I learned the production equipment, the techniques and the ingredients to make a good authentic Italian gelato.
What makes Nuzzi Gelato unique in the market?
A lot of times people will buy a premade base and add flavorings for gelato, but we are starting from scratch, making everything from fresh milk and cream. We heat it up and cool it back down, which gives it better flavor and texture. I think people can tell a difference that I am using real fruit too. People say it reminds them of Italy when they were over there. That’s the goal—I’m trying to make it as good as it is over there.
What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream?
Gelato has less fat in it because it has a higher percentage of milk and less cream. It’s served at a warmer temperature, and it’s also got less air in it. When you are churning it, the church speed is slower than American ice cream, so you get a denser product. More taste comes through because less fat on your tongue, and the warmer temperature helps you to taste the flavors more.
What flavors do customers like best?
Some of the most popular one so far have been the Chocolate Hazelnut, which tastes like a Nutella. Mixed Berry is a dairy-free sorbetto. We use strawberries, blackberries and raspberries and a little bit of lemon juice to give it a tartness and bring out the flavors. We do a Stracciatella, which is a sweet cream ice cream with chocolate drizzled in it. It’s a traditional flavor in Italy. The Chocolate Hazelnut is my favorite, but I like to pair it with other things like Mixed Berry where you get a chocolate-covered berry flavor, or a Cappuccino for a mocha flavor. I have some go-to flavors people expect me to have, but then others I switch up as the seasons change or with fruit availability.
Can you talk about how you developed the branding on your logos and on your truck?
We were going for a vintage Italian feel. A lot of it was inspired by the look and feel and colors of Italy, especially the Vespas and automobiles over there. I am passionate about cars, and the Vespa is so iconic.