Carino Ice Cream.

(This review contains extensive and excessive Godfather references. If you haven’t watched this cinematic masterpiece you might be confused but instead of apologizing I’ll just recommend you go and watch the trilogy – now. )

What is it with Italians?  One of them marks out a turf, a business, a niche- be it bootleg alcohol, drugs, protection rackets or ‘construction’ and in no time another Italian will come along and try to take a piece of the same pie.  At which point of course you’re set for a turf war and people are busting caps, severing horses heads and kissing rings all over the place. Seriously that’s what it’s like with those people. 

Still, given that we are rather a long way from the ‘boot in the Mediterranean’ and as this city isn’t really known to be a hub of Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia) activity you’d think that ordinary Colombars would be safe from any grappa fueled feuds but no, those ‘passionate’ Italians are at it even here. Two families, two businesses, two rival sets of Italians (or Italian wannabes) engaged in a struggle over the same lucrative turf. But wait whats the turf? The latest methamphetamine out of Thailand, people smuggling, fake D and G hand bags? No. Its Italian ice cream, that highly addictive and highly profitable many-flavored frozen substance popularly known as Gelato.

Gelato Wars

This is no joke. It’s hot out here and ice cream is serious business which is why one Italian family (the Rochos) who run Il Gelato’s set up shop back in 2001. Starting with one outlet on Duplication Road their excellent but pricey frozen goods more or less introduced the concept of ice-cream that wasn’t Elephant House/Highland to the local market. They went on to open outlets in Odels and in Pellawatte and Wellawatte. With their consistently delicious ice cream, great sundaes and excellent fro-yo over the last decade Il Gelato have emerged as the dons of Sri lanka’s Gelato scene. 

But just as they seemed secure in their dominance a rival band of Italians (or Italian wannabes in this case we aren’t sure) launched a line of locally produced artisanal ice cream- Carinos. Locally made with lots of imported Italian elements by a family ‘obsessed with everything Italian’ (so claims their website). Like any good new contender they initially showed respect to Il Gelatos and eschewed open confrontation preferring to remain underground working through their website and delivering their goods to your door(classic mafia operation).

Carino’s, The New Contender

But with a growing fan base, increasing demand and a sudden surge in publicity they’ve now ventured out into the open and are setting themselves up in nooks that Il Gelato’s hasn’t penetrated. Carinos is currently available at Heladiv Tea Club in the Dutch Hospital and at the DBU’s new VOC Cafe. With both selling their goods on the open market the stage is set for open confrontation. Its the established Corleones (Il Gelato) vs the up and coming Tattaglias (Carinos) and of course YAMU is caught in the cross fire.

Today we dropped into the Heladiv Tea Club to see if Carinos really had the muscle and maybe more importantly the butter and fat to squeeze out Il Gelatos…

After a little hesitation the man at the counter told us he had the goods and  we opted for a scoop of chocolate chip and another of butterscotch. At Rs 350 a scoop the new arrival is really making a statement. To back up that sort of bravado this was going to have to be ice cream worthy of a mafia don…  Armed with only our spoons we prepared to weigh in on the matter of the city’s ice creamy Don.

The verdict; We are still kissing Il Gelato’s ring.

Carino’s chocolate chocolate chip flavor was tasty. Sufficiently chocolaty and with good quality chocolate chips but it lacked the dark deliciousness of Il Gelatos chocolate contender.  The butter scotch flavor was actually a little disappointing. While it was better than the standard super market fare it wasn’t even close to rivaling Il Gelato’s amaretto or nut flavors in terms of sweet, smooth creamy tastiness. Given that Il Gelato’s, for once, also manages to be cheaper (Rs 200-300 a scoop) YAMU is putting its weight behind the boys from the Duplication Road… I guess we’ll be receiving our severed horses head shortly.

Seriously though, Colombo is (hopefully) big enough for the two of them and and it’s great to have another high-end local ice cream contender. Who doesn’t want more locally produced artisanal ice cream? But Rs 350… fuhgeddaboudit.

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