Ice cream social: Italian-style

July 10, 2009 Last week was frozen custard, but this week we're going Italian. We found a new gelato option in west suburban Forest Park, where, among the Irish pubs along Madison Street there's a gelato operation cranking out both traditional and some would say avante garde flavors this summer.

In Italian, "paciugo" means a messy concoction. But in Forest Park - where the Dallas-based chain has recently opened a store - it also means tasty, cold gelato in an assortment of wild flavors.

"They are milk and chocolate milk based, so that is the difference between ice cream and gelato. Gelato is more of a fluffy, custard frozen dessert that is obviously from Italy," said Kimberly Devoney, owner of Paciugo.

Devoney and her husband are locals who brought the business here. They make every flavor from scratch, on site, and typically offer more than 30 flavors each day. For every typical flavor, like pistachio.. there are three or four unique ones, such as yogurt granola raspberry swirl, soy mint, rose and papaya cream. Different size cups allow you to pack in three, four or even five different flavors if you have a hard time deciding on one.

"They're 100% natural, and so our fruit is any fruit that you can possible imagine, we can turn into a sorbet. And we also mirror it with something interesting as well," said Devoney.

A black raspberry frappe is one of several options you can blend up into a shake. But making a decision will be tough: consider the coconut, or the chocolate orange saffron. One of my favorites from the bunch: a Mediterranean Sea salt with caramel, that is simultaneously beguiling and yet utterly satisfying. As for the overall feel of the place, Devoney's intention was to create an Italian cafe experience unlike any other in Chicago.

"Everything from here has been heavily researched, it is all supposed to have that atmosphere like you are in a cafe in Italy," said Devoney.

And even though we've mentioned them before, i can't do a gelato story and not mention one of my all-time favorites: Freddy's Pizza in Cicero, where the frutti di bosco alone is worth the trip.

7510 W. Madison St.,
Forest Park


Freddy's Pizza
1600 S. 61st , Cicero


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