Gelateria Amato began proffering waffle cones, coffee and cakes in a side street just off Letna’s main thoroughfare Milade Horakove in February this year. However, despite only having been open a few months, it seems the Amato family’s ice cream parlour needs no additional publicity from me – or at least judging from the huge queue on the sunny Sunday afternoon in April when I stopped by.
While waiting in line, my partner and I salivated over the long list of flavours scrawled up on the window but alas by the time we arrived at the counter and the last of the caramel was being scraped out of a metal container, only three options remained. Perhaps Gelateria Amato should be forgiven for running out of stock mid-afternoon as this was one of the first warm days in spring but at the same time, if they are open until 8pm, what happens once they’ve scraped out the bottom of those remaining metal trays of sweet goodness? Simply close their doors and and bid any waiting customers arrivederci?
As the professional foodie reviewer, my cone had both the tangerine and pineapple scoops, which were sorbets and came to 70 CZK while Mr M had to make do with just one kopeček of chocolate ice-cream which was 38 CZK. Although pricier than your average točená zmrzlina, all three were palate-tinglingly delicious in their own ways: the chocolate was creamy, and cocoa-y while the tangerine had a refreshing tanginess. However, the pineapple, which tasted of tropical fruit rather than some vague chemical approximation, was my favourite. It’s also possible to have your gelato served in a paper cup but those waffle cones were delightfully crispy letting out that resounding crunch when you bite into them.
Most customers opt to take away although there is a decent amount of seating available inside and a handful of tables on the pavement. One reason to sit indoors is to witness the ice-cream making process itself which is possible thanks to the large glass screen next to the counter – this sort of foodie theatre is all the rage these days – although not much was happening there on this particular afternoon.
In order to provide a thorough assessment of Gelateria Amato’s wares, I felt it was my duty to stop by the following Tuesday and sample some of those other flavours. This time I had the place pretty much to myself and couldn’t help noticing the interior while modern, is rather sterile and doesn’t have much in the way of dolce vita flair besides the odd quirky detail like cute waffle-cone lampshades.
However, all the parents out there, who no doubt make up a fair percentage of the clientele, will be more interested to hear that the place is obviously designed to be welcome families rather than score hipster décor points from passing café reviewers: all the surfaces look easy to wipe clean and there are several highchairs available as well as a generously stocked toy box. And today, Mr Amato, the establishment’s Italian owner could be spied through that glass partition making more wares so that come the next sweltering weekend, there will be no danger of tantrums as tiny tots are turned away empty handed.
This time I went for a scoop each of bourbonská vanilka and karamel and boy, was I not disappointed. The vanilla was rather, well, vanilla – satisfying enough but nothing extraordinary – but the caramel, with its tiny sugary nuggets and swirls of dark-brown confectionary goodness incorporated into the ice-cream itself was simply out of this world. Of course, the gelato is the main draw at Amato’s, but there’s also a wide selection of drinks, both the hot caffeinated kind and the cool refreshing sort like homemade lemonade or even boozy tipples like Bohemia Sekt.
I felt it was also my duty to test the coffee as the quality of the kava in the average Czech cukrárna often leaves a good deal to be desired. I needn’t have worried: my Bazzara cappuccino (48 CZK) was also excellent with the right ration of creamy froth to hot beverage. My afternoon of indulgence didn’t stop when I left the building: I also ordered one of two choices of patisserie on offer to try at home. I’m happy to report that the chocolate cake (75 CZK) was adorned with a satisfyingly thick topping of icing and filled with a generous middle layer of butter cream with a cheeky smidgen of jam on the bottom tier of sponge for good measure. While it was certainly palate-pleasing, this slice of cake could not compete in the superlative stakes with the ice-cream but as Gelateria Amato’s raison d’etre is the creation of traditional Italian gelato, that verdict should come as no surprise.
Come the next heatwave, I’ll be heading back to Amato’s. It might not have an interior cosy enough to make you want to linger, but this place offers some of the best traditional Italian style ice-cream in Prague. Let’s hope the team get over their teething troubles so the sweet-toothed won’t leave without their creamy sugar fix.
Gelateria & Caffé Amato
Heřmanova 597/61, Prague 7
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm, closed Mondays