Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- It's a tough summer assignment. Yet
in the spirit of fair and accurate journalism, I journeyed
with seven children to deepest South Kensington to verify
persistent rumors among ice-cream aficionados that Oddono's in
Bute Street serves up probably the best scoops in London.
The shop, opened in July 2004 by homesick expatriates Marco
Petracchini, 30, and Christian Oddono, 35, along with two
silent shareholders, boasts that its equipment and ingredients
are imported from Italy.
``I felt there was a need for an Italian ice-cream
parlor,'' says Oddono, head of research at London-based
independent equity- research company Actinvest Group Ltd. ``I
decided to open one.''
Among the seven panelists I assembled for a trip to
Oddono's stark, no-nonsense parlor, there was a wealth of
experience. These tough tasters had been to such creamy meccas
as Marine Ices in Chalk Farm, with its family-friendly vibe
and huge helpings, and Morelli's in Harrods food hall that
offers Murano glasses and bespoke service with flavors from
mushroom sorbet to gorgonzola.
Some jury members were discerning veterans of forays to
celebrated parlors as far afield as Roskilly's in St. Keverne,
Helston, Cornwall, and La Maison Berthillon, an artisanal
glacier on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris.
The team was an international crowd consisting of two
Americans, four Australians and one Briton -- four boys and
three girls -- and they ranged in age from 3 to 10. Each
sampled two flavors piled onto one cone to maximize variety,
and to follow through on the bribe to get them there.
Despite strict instructions to not duplicate, Jed, 7, and
Milo, 6, who are best buddies, surreptitiously flouted the
rules and ordered in duplicate -- a bold combination of
cinnamon and lemon sorbet. Dom, 3, overwhelmed by the choice,
chose two scoops of chocolate, simply because, ``I like
The collage of flavors arrayed before us in the display
case imported from Italy included 15 choices of ice creams and
sorbets. Of these, 10 are classics and on offer at all times.
The five remaining flavors change daily, and range from green
apple and fig sorbets to ricotta and basil ice creams.
To be clear, this is gelati, a light Italian-style ice
cream that has little in common with the hard stuff likely to
be found in the frozen-food section of your supermarket. What
also sets Oddono's apart is that it's not cloyingly sweet.
Kara, 10, proclaims the hazelnut the ``best ice cream I've
ever had.'' Even Zoe, a waiflike 8-year-old, who, I am told by
her mother, is not an ice-cream fan, quickly finished her
combination of strawberry and stracciatella (chocolate chip).
``Mmmm, very good,'' she opines as she pops the final morsel
of the cone's tip into her mouth.
What makes this ice cream exceptional is the quality of the
ingredients. Most come from Italy -- pistachios from Sicily,
hazelnuts from Piedmont. ``We use only the freshest
ingredients with no colorings, no flavorings or
preservatives,'' says Petracchini.
Oddono, who has lived in London for 11 years, discovered
that he and Petracchini, a manager at Starbucks, both pined
for authentic gelaterias. The two returned to Italy to attend
a two- week gelati-making course. They then spent five months
working in gelaterias throughout the country learning the
trade before opening Oddono's. The business is registered as
Oddono's Gelati Italiani Ltd. in Warlingham, Surrey.
Petracchini claims that they sell over 150 kilograms of
gelato on hot sunny days at 1.50 pounds a scoop at the small
shop, where a large picture window overlooking the
manufacturing process allows fascinated kids to watch the
churning gears. There are also insulated containers for
Clearly, word is spreading. The partners were recently
approached by Selfridges Plc, the London department store, and
opened a concession in the food hall there last month.
Oddono's, 14 Bute Street, London SW7 3EX, call (44) (20)