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Ice Cream Shop a Hit in Turin During Winter Games


One normally thinks of ice cream as a warm-weather treat. While the mountain venues of the Winter Olympics have been cold and snowy, it's been above five degrees Celsius on most days in Turin for nearly the entire games. And that has meant many visitors to a popular gelato shop.

As many people know, gelato is Italian for ice cream. And the best gelato, as reported by such Italian publications as La Repubblica, can be found in Turin in a little gelatoria near the main train station called Riva Reno.

It has been open less than a year under the guidance of Nicola and Ping Greco, a husband and wife team, who opened their first Riva Rena store in Milan.

Nicola is Italian and used to work in the auto industry. Ping is a Chinese-American, and a former Voice of America and BBC journalist who also decided to switch careers. "After I moved to Italy, I didn't speak a word of Italian and so I reinvented myself. Now I became a Gelato Woman," she said.

The Riva Reno gelato store in Turin has been getting a lot of Olympic visitors. NBC, the American television network broadcasting the Winter Games, did a special feature story on Riva Reno because of its fine reputation. And Ping says word began to spread.

"We have a sign on the door that says, 'Ice cream, the perfect source of energy.' So we hope that will attract athletes and non-athletes alike. And once they take our gelato, they will go to wherever they are from and say, 'My God! I have tasted the best gelato in my life!'," she said.

Nicola Greco says Riva Reno's base products are made exclusively for their company. And when they make their gelato on premises, they use a high tech scale, that displays the exact amount of the ingredients to be used.

"The scale has all the recipes in it and the recipes are controlled by our central headquarters, because this is a franchise. So the scale has an Internet-based program, and we can basically check in everyplace where we have a Riva Reno franchise, each single flavor if it's made according to standards, standards that are contained in the scale," he said.

And those standards and quality are what have made Riva Reno so popular.

Two American men who stopped by during the Olympics praised the ice cream with remarks such as: "Superb. This is terrific." "It's creamier, the texture and the flavor." "It's much better than American ice cream. Seems richer."

The locals in Turin love it too, said one woman. "Well, it's not fake. You can feel the ingredients, like the fruits are special. It's not like those things you buy anywhere. It's really special."

Even in its short time in existence, Ping Greco says Riva Reno has already become a profitable gelato store. "I think that gelato of this quality does not exist anywhere else," she said.

And Ping and Nicola Greco might also say that the publicity their gelato has received during these Olympics has been somewhat like the chocolate syrup and cherry on top.