Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Napoleon's Creperie & Gelato

(UPDATE 3/15/12: Napoleon's recently completed their large expansion in downtown Salem. They now feature a larger menu, including soups, salads, sandwiches, crepes, and quiche)

Napoleon's Creperie & Gelato (Court Street in downtown Salem) is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth. They serve crepes, pastries, and, of course, gelato.

Gelato is basically Italy's version of ice cream. It has a lower butter-fat content, but more sugar than your typical ice cream. There are many types of gelato flavors, and it is common to see chunks of the specific flavor in the gelato. For example, you may see chocolate chips in your chocolate gelato, strawberries in the strawberry gelato, and so forth.

Napoleon's has several flavors to choose from, and I went to town on sampling the more intriguing ones.

The light green one is Creme de Mint...pretty darn good
I tried the sugar-free custard (top row, second from left) and Birthday Cake (front row, leftmost)
Both were excellent
I tried three flavors in particular. First up was the Sugar-Free Custard. Definitely had a nice custard taste to it, and obviously ideal for a person watching the sugar intake. Next, the Creme de Mint. Again, very nice. The mint flavor was definitely present, and it appears those are mint rainbow chocolate chips or something on the top of the gelato. Very colorful presentation. Last but not least, I went with Birthday Cake. It instantly reminded me of vanilla cake with vanilla icing. I am a big vanilla fan, so this really worked for me.

I ordered a small cup with two flavors, going with Chocolate Hazelnut and Peanut Butter:

The server said Peanut Butter was her favorite, and I can understand why. The peanut butter is front and center on this gelato; there is no chocolate or any other flavor to really get in its way. The Chocolate Hazelnut was also a big success. The intense chocolate flavor was a great combination with the peanut butter, and the chocolate bits in the gelato provided a great texture contrast to the silky, smooth Italian ice cream.

I asked the server how often the gelato is prepared. She said almost daily, which is awesome. Gelato can really only hold its flavor and texture for a few days before it starts deteriorating in quality.

When the server was scooping the gelato out of the container, it looked like she was having a tough time getting it out, so I feared the gelato would be pretty rock solid. However, when I put my tiny spoon in my serving, it still gave way very nicely.

The inside of Napoleon's was very inviting, really taking on many qualities of an ice cream parlor. I enjoyed the white walls. Combined with the sunlight and Napoleon's lighting, it became a more inviting place.

I felt Napoleon's produces great gelato, although I don't know if I would return very often because I hesitate on paying $3.25 for such a small portion. I ate that small serving in about five minutes, and I wasn't eating very fast, either. Yeah I know, the economy sucks.

I remember when Caffe Gelato was on State Street, and when they closed down about three years ago, I wondered where I would need to go to get some good gelato. It turns out that I didn't need to go very far at all. While the prices are a bit of a turn-off for me, consider going to Napoleon's to get your gelato fix. 5.75/10

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