Gelato Festival America: The Dark Chocolate Surprise

Published on: August 15, 2018 |
Dark Chocolate Surprise Credit Francesco Sapienza

Dark Chocolate Surprise sounds like the name of a racehorse but it’s actually the name of another champ. It’s the flavor that just won the first qualifying round of 2018 Gelato Festival America, held in Jersey City earlier this week.

Pastry chef Giacomo D’Alessandro of Polosud Gelato, Coffee, Pastries on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy, created the winning flavor. In a juried completion, it was awarded the title of best artisanal gelato. 

Gelato at Polosud

Gelato at Polosud

The first-round champ

Chef D’Allesandro’s Dark Chocolate Surprise is a dairy-free sorbetto prepared with 80% South American dark chocolate and 20% water. According to the chef, dark chocolate sorbet is one of the most difficult gelatos to prepare because it requires a perfect balance of ingredients or runs the risk of being too bitter.

The 21 flavors of small-batch gelato produced at Polosud, a Sicilian-style gelateria, rely on a mix of local low-fat milk with other ingredients imported from Italy. As is the custom in small shops in Italy, everything made in the shop is produced and sold the same day. All the flavors are also available in an Italian milkshake or a warm Italian brioche bun stuffed with gelato.

The jury was comprised of experts and lay people who praised Dark Chocolate Surprise for it is original and unique flavor. “It has been an amazing journey,” says Chef D’Alessandro. “The competition was tough,” he says commenting on his win over 11 other contestants.

About Gelato Festival America

The first Gelato Festival was held in Florence in 2010, sponsored by Carpigiani, a Bologna-based international firm that produces the machines used to make gelato all over the world, and other trade partners. The same company operates Gelato University, an educational program where masters pass down the skill of gelato-making to people who aspire to become producers.

This is the second American tour of the Gelato Festival, which has already been held in Europe 64 times, with the goal of disseminating the culture of true artisanal gelato. These lively events are a great opportunity for gelato lovers of all ages to learn about how it is made, to participate in tastings, and help anoint a winner.

Sicilian Brioche with Gelato

Sicilian Brioche with Dark Chocolate Surprise Gelato

Coming to your town?

The Gelato Festival America will be making seven more stops in its cross-country tour: Boulder August 18-19th; Chicago, August 25-26th; Washington, DC, September 8-9th; Los Angeles, September 22-23rd; Dallas, September 29-30th; Phoenix, October 20-21st; and Tucson, October 27-28. (You can see the schedule with precise locations here.)

Along with Chef D’Alessandro, each of the respective winners will be eligible to compete in the “Best Flavor in America” final, which will be held in March 2019.



166 Mott St (between Broome St. and Grand St), New York, NY 10013

The popular shop recently opened a second midtown location:

866 9th Avenue (at 57th St. and Ninth Ave), New York, NY 10019


  • Read my more in-depth article about 2018 Gelato Festival America on

All photo credits, unless otherwise noted: Credit Francesco Sapienza

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 7:44 am

    I love gelato…and now I am craving some!

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