Queen's Eats: A deeper look at what makes Mio Gelato special

Unpacking why this gelato shop is a local favourite

Mio Gelato attributes its success in part to Kingston's vibrant community.

Over my past two summers in Kingston, I’ve consumed at least 20 cones from Mio Gelato, and I’m not the only one enamoured by this local favourite.

During the warm months, the little downtown gelato shop often has a line spilling onto the sidewalk. However, the rainbow of flavours Mio offers is well worth the wait.

Mio Gelato has become a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It all began in 2010, when owners Roz Bechtel and her husband Glenn treated themselves to gelato while vacationing in Florida. It was then that they realized Kingston was missing a gelato shop of its own. Six weeks later, Mio Gelato was open for business.

In a town full of ice cream shops, Mio’s unique gelato offering makes it stand out. Think of the cold dessert as ice cream’s posh cousin: made primarily with homogenized milk as opposed to cream, gelato contains less fat and air, giving it a luxurious, dense texture.

All 41 permanent flavours as well as a rotation of experimental flavours, from Thai tea to strawberry basil, are made in house. This includes sorbettos, frozen yogurts, and, of course, gelatos.

If the vast selection of mouth-watering options isn’t enough to get you in the door, perhaps the shop’s warm sense of community is.

The development of the store’s flavours stems from the local community and interacting with Kingston’s food scene. Mio Gelato’s operations manager, Erin Allen, explained that Mio’s team finds inspiration all over the city, like in a turmeric latte she enjoyed at a local coffee shop that inspired one of the vegan gelatos. She also emphasized that coming up with flavours is a group effort, praising the creativity of the staff.

Even the public has a chance to share their dream gelato flavours by submitting their ideas in the store’s suggestion box.

To execute these creations, the Mio team uses local ingredients whenever possible. Depending on the recipe, they’ll use berries and pumpkins from Fruition Farms, or oil from the Kingston Olive Oil Company.

“We’re really fortunate to be in such a vibrant community [that] really enjoys working together,” Allen said in an interview with The Journal.

This sense of belonging in the community extends to the Mio Gelato cart, which allows the shop’s staff to serve gelato at Kingston events such as Movies in the Square, at the Gord Edgar Downie Pier, and even local weddings. Soon, Mio Gelato plans to reach even further, expanding into wholesale and eventually finding its way into scoop shops. 

A regular two-scoop cone or cup goes for $6.49 after tax—a reasonable price for an artisanal dessert. Whether you’re treating yourself or your friends, or having a date night, Mio is the perfect treat for students in need of a pick-me-up.

As we bid farewell to summer and Mio’s season comes to an end, here’s a quick guide to choosing the ideal scoop for your tastes.

For Mio’s vegan friends

You’re in luck, because all of the sorbettos are vegan. You can’t go wrong with any of these fruity, refreshing flavours.

Try mixing mojito and passionfruit for one last taste of summer. Also, if you haven’t found a satisfying vegan chocolate ice cream, look no further than the chocolate pudding sorbetto.

The power of pistachio

Pistachio is Mio Gelato’s best-selling flavour for good reason. A roasted pistachio paste is blended into the gelato base, giving it a greater depth of flavour.

Pistachio offers the perfect rich creaminess to balance the tartness of a sorbetto. As much as I want to try every single flavour Mio has to offer, I never stray far from this classic. My favourite combination remains pistachio and mango.

All about the chocolates

Mio offers a plethora of decadent creations for chocolate lovers.

The popular chocolate peanut butter tastes like a refined Reese’s cup and pairs well with raspberry sorbetto.

But if you’re like me and plan to be frequenting Mio all the way up until December 20 (when they close for the season), try chocolate orange for a nostalgic taste of Christmas.

Corrections

This article was updated to reflect the correct names of Mio's founders, the ingredients of the pistachio gelato, and the price of a cone.

The Journal regrets the error.

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