A Touch of Italy

Stefano Mazzina’s love affair with gelato goes back a long way. From fond childhood memories of making it with his grandparents to visits to friends’ homes in his local district of Lake Como with a kilogram tub in tow.

That nostalgia and craving for ‘how it used to be’ was the motivation behind creating Sotto Zero Gelato.

Gelato, Coffee & Pasta – it doesn’t get much more Italiano than that. The multi-faceted Italian wonderland, which opened in mid-April, is something Stefano Mazzina has always wanted to do.

“There was no-one in Coffs Harbour doing Italian gelato as it was when I grew up,” says Stefano.

“Sotto Zero Gelato is authentic and about as Italian as you can get and that’s what it’s all about. I can only do what my experiences are in life – and this is it! Compare this to any gelateria in Italy and this is exactly what you would get,” he says.

So, pasta and ice cream? While this is a little left of Italian tradition, Stefano wanted to include everything he loves about home.

“Because of this great space, my business partner, Victor Russo and I thought we could marry all three things – but we do keep them separate. It Italy, you wouldn’t find ice cream and pasta together! Coffee and ice cream is a perfect marriage but pasta, not so much. That’s why we’ve kept them a little bit different in the store design too.”

Sotto Zero storefront

Stefano uses a carefully selected Central American bean from Bassett Espresso, roasted to the style of an Italian espresso bar. His gelato is all natural and made on-site with fresh fruit and an authentic ‘base’ of milk, cream and sugars. “There’s nothing else added – it’s just authentic Italian gelato,” he says.

Sotto Zero Gelato also offers sweet treats including cannolo siciliano and nutella bombs which Stefano says don’t last long on the shelf. “We make small batches of both items every morning and they just sell out so quickly!”

As well as breakfast and morning tea, Stefano and his team also create fresh, made-to-order pasta during lunchtime which has proved extremely popular.

“It’s doing really well, and we’ve also had a lot of people asking about pasta packs to take home and so we’re planning on having little packets of pasta and sauce for people to pick up on their way home – that’s dinner sorted!”

The store is a slight change of pace for Stefano, who for the past 12 years, has been the head chef and part owner of Italian Restaurant, Fiasco – something he continues to juggle with his new venture.

Sotto Zero Gelato

“I was always working at night time, so I thought I’d see what day life was like but it’s a bit hectic at the moment as I seem to be working day and night. Hopefully I can find a balance at some stage.”

While he’s been based in Coffs Harbour for the past 14 years, Stefano says he tries to get back home to Italy as often as he can with his three daughters. “I love going back to visit my village with my family – I do miss it.”

With the Coffs Central store off to such a great start, Stefano hopes they may emulate that success with other stores. “We wouldn’t mind, if it goes well, opening up more shops and we’ve been asked to do a bit of wholesale too so that’s something we might also explore.”

More gelato, pasta and coffee? Eccellente.

Sotto Zero Gelato is located at Coffs Central Shopping Centre.

For more information visit them on Facebook – Sotto zero gelato