David Arato is not your average gelato cafe owner. Back in the day, Arato was a professional cyclist, but an injury cut that dream short. He changed careers and decided to get into the gelato business. He is proud of receiving training Gelato University in Italy and even worked for free for a top chef just to learn the tricks of the trade. The native of Italy brought his dream of owning a gelato cafe to the U.S. in 2002 and opened Bottega Italiana in Seattle. In 2006, he opened in San Diego, following that with locations in Coronado and the UTC mall.
What makes Bottega Italiana different is authenticity. They make their gelato fresh everyday with a farm-to-table mentality, are attentive to detail and offer unique flavors for their customers. The company is looking for a fourth location, this one in North County.
Q: How is Bottega Italiana different from other gelato cafés?
A: We make a point to use natural ingredients and make everything possible out of scratch. With a farm-to-table mentality we are trying to make your “treat” feel healthy as well. Our presentation and quality sets us apart, we put our heart into it and offer an experience, not just an ice cream fix. We serve Illy coffee as well, widely respected as the best espresso there is.
Q: Explain what Gelato University is?
A: Gelato University is a course established by the chefs at Carpigiani, where the masters teach the in’s and out’s of how to make gelato, the authentic and quality way. A lot of attention is paid to the chemical balances that offer the best texture and flavor without heavy ingredients. It is pretty complicated stuff actually. They teach us about equipment as well, and the fundamentals of the operations within this sector. It is a great base to start with, but just like with any profession, I believe, I learned the most inside the day-to-day business.
Q: The best part about doing business in San Diego?
A: I love the work/life balance I’m able to maintain here. I do work a lot but when I have free time, my favorite things are right there immediately. This is a place where if you have a free hour, you don’t need to travel anywhere you can just jump in the ocean and surf with dolphins, or go on a bike ride with a dream scenery around you. Our kids can always play outside, and grow up with a quality of life that would be hard to find elsewhere.
Q: Your favorite flavor and why?
A: It changes. I like our unique creations, mostly, because you cannot get them anywhere else and they are so out of the ordinary. Flavors like passion fruit rosemary. Also, mojito, where we use real fruits and herbs to flavor it. Also we like to put our own twist on favorites like creme brulee or pistachio-hazelnut.
Q: If you could be a super hero, who would it be and why?
A: Not really the super hero type of guy, but if I have to choose one, I would say Batman, I guess. Only because he’s a smart and successful man who created his own special abilities and fights for good also in his “day-job.” Not the “born with all these special powers” kind of hero.
Q: What are the biggest differences you had to get used to when you moved here?
A: The social world is very different than home. It is very friendly and welcoming right away here, everybody smiles and stops to say hi. At home only your tight family/friend network will show interest in how your day was, but then relationships go deeper over there. Access to everything this world has to offer is also a huge thing here, that still blows my mind.
Q: Describe your most perfect day in San Diego?
A: Sleep in-ish, go surf 5- 6-foot glassy point break, play on the beach with my wife and kids, brunch, take a beautiful hike, sip on mojitos while the kids are napping, steak dinner and wine with sunset views, family and close friends over at night.
Q: Three things you would take on a deserted island?
A: A pizza oven, a surf board, and some gelato.