Caliendo’s Gelato in Kentish Town Road won the competition, which was organised by trade association the Ice Cream Alliance (ICA).
Owners Michelina Caliendo-Sear and Fiona Bell said they were “thrilled” to win, having only opened their shop in December 2019, months before the pandemic.
“It’s completely overwhelming,” said chef Michelina. “We got into the final and thought ‘that’s amazing’. We didn’t expect to win and are really over the moon.”
Of the 24 flavours on offer, one third are dairy free. Michelina said Caliendo’s makes fresh batches every day and she changes some of the flavours – even including a notorious savoury toast topping.
She added. “I have the most popular ones and I experiment with other flavours.
“For example our blackcurrant and liquorice has won a two star Great Taste award. We did a Marmite on toast. I personally don’t like Marmite and neither does my partner so we were both tasting it thinking ‘it’s disgusting, no-one’s going to like this’ and then the Marmite fans came in and that’s it, it sold out.”
Michelina comes from a dynasty of gelato makers who have been making the Italian style of ice cream for almost 150 years.
The original Caliendos lived in Little Italy, Clerkenwell, and have been traced back to the 1880 census.
She said: “We had our family tree commissioned about eight years ago and when we saw it in black and white it all made sense why in the family we were so obsessed with it.
“Fiona is northern Irish and it’s a little known fact that the north Irish population eat the most ice cream, per capita, in the whole of the UK.
“So between the two of us with my family history and her love of it we looked into doing it ourselves.”
Fiona said: “We’re just thrilled. For us getting to be down to the final three was ‘wow, this is amazing’, but especially as a young business it’s amazing.
“For us it’s a bit of a shot in the arm for the quality of what we’re producing. When you’re new on a high street you don’t know if it’s right or not and the customers have been great.
“It’s nice to have the industry body give us the thumbs up.
“We’ve been quite low-key about it apart from painting our windows.”
The duo paint the windows for every occasion, most recently the coronation.
Fiona said a pop up stall in Swain’s Lane in 2020 has brought customers down from Highgate, and they got through the pandemic thanks to loyal local custom.
“It’s all been a whirlwind,” she said: “This week we’ve had beautiful weather; everyone wants gelato so we’ve been super busy in the shop so we’re over the moon.”