Proscuitto e Melone (S$10.80): Aged Parma ham with sweet rock melon
Mozzarella di Bufala Caprese (S$8.80): Ripe cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and buffalo mozzarella cheese
A story more romantic than Korean love dramas happened in real life...
Crunchy Francese Frittura (S$10.80): Shoestring fries covered with extra crisp exotic spices
Three Korean sisters went to Rome to study...
Bruschette di pomodoro (S$8.80): Three kinds of tomato bruschetta
The youngest sister, Ms Park Soo Jin, met another Korean, Mr Lee Dong Jin, at her Italian cookery classes...
Esotico Funghi Saltati (S$9.80): Morel, oyster, shiitake and button mushrooms
They fell in love...
Insalata di mare con salsa al limone (S$13.80): Baby octopus, prawn, mussel, calamari, sun-dried tomato and shallots in lemon dressing
...and discovered they both adored eating gelato more than anything else.
Macaroni Formaggio (S$11.80): Baked macaroni with mozzarella, nutty flavour edam and asiago cheese
With love in their bosom and passion in their hearts, they followed their dream...
Pasta Pomodoro (S$12.80): Fusili in tomato sauce with zucchini, eggplant, fresh ricotta and basil
The couple signed up for another course, this time in gelato-making.
Pasta Crema di Zafferano (S$13.80): Linguine in saffron cream sauce with bell peppers
They worked hard, attending classes by day, and working in a gelateria by night...
Pasta Aglio Olio (S$12.80): vermicelli pasta with white bait, garlic and fresh arugula
And after two years of perfecting their skills, they returned to Korea to open their own gelateria in 2003...
Pasta Arrabiata di Mare (S$14.80): spaghetti in spicy seafood tomato sauce
They chose the name Gusttimo - blending the words "Gusto" (eating with gusto) and "Ottimo" (savouring the ultimate flavour).
Scamorza e Prosciutto Miele Panini (S$10.80): Scarmoza cheese and honey ham on grilled ciabatta
Gusttimo launched the gelato craze in Korea!
Salmone Focaccia (S$10.80): smoked salmon, basil pesto, lemon dressing & shallots on focaccia bread
There are now 23 Gusttimo gelateria outlets in Korea...
Pollo Ciabatta (S$9.80): Grilled chicken breast, whole grain mustard, sun-dried tomato & zucchini on ciabatta
And now they are going international, starting with Singapore. The flagship branch is at ION Orchard, and incorporates an alfresco trattoria bar serving casual Italian fare at affordable prices. The light meals are designed to complement the gelato. This is an unusual move as Gusttimo in Korea only serves gelato, not food.
Peachy Beauty (S$12): peach, passionfruit, soda, Sprite, and mango sorbet
The drinks menu is even more extensive. Aperitifs, shooters, wines, beers, smoothies (using gelato), fizzy soda, coolers, hot drinks, etc. Try the cocktails and mocktails that include scoops of gelato, like the Peachy Beauty above.
Gusttimo pays homage to the Singapore Sling with an icy concoction of Frutti di Bosco (wild berries sorbet), Gordon's dry gin, cherry brandy, Triple Sec with pineapple and lime juice. The Melontini is a mango sorbetto with Midori, Triple Sec and lime, served in a martini glass.
There is even a story behind the young but accomplished chef. Chef Pyung Sang Soo, the only son of a rich businessman, shocked his father when he said he wanted to give it all up to be a chef. But Sang Soo was determined to pursue his dream. He trained at Cordon Bleu, and started his career in premier restaurants and hotel kitchens (Park Hyatt in Paris and Seoul). In Singapore, he worked at San Marco and Mimolette.
Dr Lee Se Heon, the Gusttimo franchise owner in Singapore, soon hired Sang Soo to head the kitchen at Gusttimo. After some time, Dr Lee found out with surprise that Sang Soo's father was his long lost good friend! Such serendipity!
Sang Soo and his father have made peace and today, his father is proud of his son's achievements as an internationally trained chef.
Gusttimo offers 32 flavours (out of 230) at any one time, depending on seasonal ingredients. Organic natural ingredients for making gelato are sourced exclusively from an Italian company. Other ingredients like 'Morinaga' milk caramel from Hokkaido, Belgium yoghurt and Italian biscotti are also highlights.
Mr Lee Dong Jin himself comes to Singapore to inspect and train the gelato artisans.
Gusttimo has made their gelato healthier, in terms of fat content. Their fruit family and yoghurt family gelato is fat free, and even the cream-based gelato is 96 per cent fat-free. In comparison, ice cream has up to 30 per cent fat. So you can indulge in gelato without guilt. It's LOVE, all right. Low-fat love!
My 3-scoop gelato cup (S$5.90): Risonero (black rice, which tastes like pulut hitam); tiramisu; Frutti di Bosco (mixed berries - blackberries, raspberries and blueberries). The Formaggio (cream cheese) flavour is also excellent (I had a small taste).
I like that the gelato isn't too sweet and that you can really taste the ingredients (especially the intense berries sorbet). And being a texture fiend, I love the crunchy mini cone that crowns the scoop. That is their signature.
However, the gelato does melt rather quickly in our climate, so if you savour it too slowly, you'll soon end up with a liquid mixture (hint: choose complementary flavours!).
Many thanks to Christina and Jeannette of GolinHarris for the invitation, and to William and the team at Gusttimo for the food tasting session.
GUSTTIMO DI ROMA GELATERIA & TRATTORIA BAR
Level 1 ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn #01-15/17,
Sun-Thu: 10am to 10pm
Fri-Sat (and eve of public holidays): 10am to midnight