Put it in your mouth: Mamma mia, io amo il gelato!

In addition to another academic year coming to a close, summeris almost upon us, and barring a “The Day After Tomorrow”-typeecological disaster, this means the weather is only going to gethotter. And of course when the weather gets hot, nothing beatssomething cool and sweet to help beat the heat.

Currently, the hottest, err, coolest new treat in Portland seemsto be gelato, with four new shops opening up in the last coupleyears. Gelato is essentially an Italian-style ice cream. By usingless air, lighter cream and a slightly higher freezing temperature,gelato has a lighter, smoother texture and is typically stronger inflavor than traditional North American ice creams.

In Italy, gelato shops make up a significant part of the summernightlife. Often staying open as late a 1 a.m., gelato shops offera great nightcap for a date or nice treat to enjoy while taking alate stroll around the piazza in the warm summer air. Portland’sgelato shops, like the Pearl District’s Mio Gelato and Northeast28th Ave.’s Staccato Gelato, emulate some of this Italianexperience, staying open as late as 11 p.m. You can get threeheaping scoops in a dish or cone for less than $4.

Located along Northeast 28th Ave.’s burgeoningrestaurant row, Staccato Gelato (which recently reopened afterextensive remodeling) has a brightly colored, Ikea-furnishedinterior that lends an easy-going and fun vibe to the atmosphere,and matches the brightly colored tubs of gelato behind the glasscase.

Everything is made fresh daily at Staccato, which means theselections of flavors is always rotating, especially thefresh-fruit flavors which fluctuate according to what is currentlyin season. The fresh strawberry, made with locally grown fruit, isdefinitely a standout flavor, as is the unique lavender-honey whenit is available.

Located across the street from Powell’s City of Books in the”brewery blocks” end of the Pearl District, Mio Gelato has a bitmore Pearl District chic to it than its Northeast counterpart – itis decorated with gray marble tables and local artwork on thewalls. The gelato, however, is comparably tasty. While Staccato’sfruit flavors stood out more, Mio has the creamier varieties down.The cinnamon was especially good, tasting like real cinnamonwithout being overpowering or tasting like that fake hot-cinnamoncandy stuff. The cr�me was also pretty tasty, with simplesmooth creamy texture. In addition to gelato, Mio also offers aselection of Italian style panini sandwiches that are fresh andtoasty and fairly priced at $5, though not particularlyfilling.

So if you find the sun beating down on you sometime this summer,putting something cold in your mouth might be just the answer. Ifit happens to be gelato, molto bene, my friend, molto bene.

Staccato Gelato
232 N.E. 28th Ave.
12 – 11 p.m. Tue. – Sun.

Mio Gelato
25 N.W. 11th Ave.
7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Mon. – Sat.
11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sun.