IN THE KITCHEN Last year, Samanta Stavar, who originally hails from Argentina, brought her husband, Jules Remenar, to visit her home country. During their travels, they sought out gelato — a lot of gelato. “I was always complaining that I missed my gelato from back home,” said Stavar, explaining that the country has a large population of Italian immigrants who have melded their traditional gelato recipes with Argentinian ingredients and techniques.
When Remenar sampled the frozen treat, he told his wife, “We have to bring this to the US.” Stavar also introduced her husband to Argentinian-style dulce de leche, a confection prepared by slowly cooking sweetened milk into a luscious caramelized spread. The experience served as the inspiration for their new venture.
THE LOCALE While Italian gelato is more readily available in Boston’s North End, “we wanted to bring it out to Metrowest,” with an Argentinian spin, Stavar said. The bright, 16-seat Dulce D Leche Gelato Café opened in late May on Edgell Road just off Route 9 westbound in Framingham, the couple’s hometown. They also brought their gelato to farmers markets this summer in Ashland, Framingham and Hopkinton.
ON THE MENU Stavar took classes in both New York and Argentina to perfect her gelato-making craft. At Dulce D Leche, she creates Argentinian-influenced gelato using Italian techniques. Indecisive or unfamiliar with the delectable array of options? During our visit, the friendly counter staff allowed for liberal sampling before we made our final selections.
Several flavors are prepared with a dulce de leche base, including flavors with brownies and chocolate chips mixed into the cold, creamy treat. Dulce de leche is also added to ridiculously luscious cheesecake and coconut flavors, among others. We also swooned over sambayón, an Italian gelato flavor popular in Argentina prepared with egg custard and Marsala wine; the alcohol cooks off during the preparation but the wine’s sweet flavor lingers. For the dreamy tiramisu flavor, sambayón is used as the base, and blended with lady fingers soaked in espresso.
The sorbetto are made with high-quality frozen fruit purée with no artificial coloring or additives. Flavors include a luscious, bright mango, as well as strawberry, lemon, lemon lime, passion fruit and pink peach. Gelato and sorbetto are $3 for a small, $5 for a medium and $7 for a large; a cone is an additional 75 cents.(cq( For those who just can’t choose, it’s permissible to mix a couple of flavors into one order. Pints and quarts are also available to go.
Despite the name, the café offers treats beyond gelato and sorbetto, many with Argentinian origins. Following his visit to Argentina, Remenar grew interested in making his own chocolates. His background as a chemist gives him “a natural ability to manage the tempering of the chocolate,” according to Stavar. As a result, the cafe offers more than 30 hand-crafted “bonbons” that blend dark chocolate ganache with dulce de leche and other add-ins. Remenar also has a long-standing appreciation for whiskies, so he created a series of chocolates containing whiskey and bourbon, which are concentrated to remove most of the alcohol but retain the taste. They are $2 individually or sold in boxes.
There are also several made-from-scratch cakes by the slice based on Argentinian recipes. These include double chocolate and carrot cakes, tiramisu, and yellow cake with dulce de leche and buttercream. The tres leches cake uses dulce de leche in place of cream frosting. There are also Argentinian and Peruvian shortbread cookies slathered with — what else? — dulce de leche.
The café is open for breakfast, with a full espresso bar, fruit smoothies, savory croissants, cinnamon buns and other sweet treats.
Dulce D Leche Gelato Café is at 5 Edgell Road in Framingham; 508-309-3406, www.dulcedlechegelatocafe.com. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.