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Antonio's got the job licked

22 July 2006 - The Northern Star

People come from all over the world to try the ice-cream at the Bougainvillea eatery, as David Ellis discovered

THERE's not much unusual in a city the size of Italy's Sor-rento having an eatery that can seat four hundred or so at one time. After all, Sorrento's waves of summer-time visitors come in their hundreds of thousands, desporting themselves on its sunny beaches, cruising the dreamy Mediterranean, driving the snaking coast-road to Amalfi, or visiting the nearby ruins of Pompeii.
But what's unusual about Sorrento's Bougainvillea eatery is that people by and large go there to eat just one thing. Ice Cream.
Mums, dads and grans, uncles and aunts, kids and teens, they all pack into the place on hot summer's days, eyes agog at the scores of ice-creams on offer: as a colleague confessed after torturing himself with decision-making 'vou really do feel like a kid in a lolly shop trying to make up your mind.'
And its not just holidaymakers, local shoppers, and burly truckies who leave their rigs double-parked, who drop in for something to lick the heat.
Business people book its function rooms for corporate talk-fests, and rather than coffee breaks between sessions, get stuck into ice-cream cones, ice-cream cupcakes and little plastic buckets of the stuff.
Antonino Cioffi and his wife Rosa are the driving force behind the Gelateria Bougainvillea, Antonino confessing he's been a lover of ice-cream all his life.
"My grandfather Vincenzo brought the first powered whipping machine to Southern ltaly to make cheese. Unti] then everything was laboriously whipped by hand; he and my grand-mother taught themselves to also make ice-cream with the whipper as a treat for the family", he says.
Antonino and Rosa bonght the circa-1950s gelateria in the 1970s. changing the name to Bougainvillea and quickly growing the business.
Today their children Nino and Gianluca hand-make the 80-something freshdaily flavours. And for special events,
corporate get-togethers, and even weddings in their four sitting rooms and
outdoor garden settings, an amazing 250-odd others that can be whipped-up in cones, cups, cakes, mousses, sorbets and yoghurts.
Think of a flavour and Nino and Gianluca will undoubtedly have it: vanilla, chocolate, fresh strawberry or raspberry. double or triple chocolate, strawberry ripple, pralines and cream, rum and raisin, Sorrento walnuts. choc-orange, mango, and Sorrento Secrets (a smooth blend of fresh-squeezed orange, tangerine, lemon and ice-cream) are just some of them... with low-fat, sugar-free 'slim line' options.
And yes, amongst them all there is a spaghetti-flavoured number.
And if you want to celebrate a special occasion in Sorrento, as well as all the regulars, Bougainvillea's ice-cream cakes come in such unusual flavours as soft cheese and pear - and of course, what decent ice-creamery would not have a rum baba?
If you're not into ice-cream, ice-cream and more ice-cream, they also have fresh fruit salads, sinful pastries, and sweet or savoury crepes and myriad fillings - with a dob of ice-cream, naturally. And for those feeling more peckish, pastas and salads.
If all this has you salivating, Antonino (wouldn't any kid just love this bloke as their uncle?) also advises on setting up traditional Italian gelaterias - ice-cream shops - anywhere in the world for those looking for new business opportunities. He'Il do everything from selling you the right equipment. to training staff and doing a launch party.
If you're interested contact him on Or for a quiet drool simply web search for gelateria bougainvillea.
Vou'll find Gelateria Bougainvillea at 16 Corso Italia, in the heart of Sorrento.