Guy Le Houx recently opened Gelati Martini, a savory sister to his already successful Gelato Station, a few doors down. The interior boasts café tables, and comfy, club style chairs for you to sit in while you sip and nibble. The menu and atmosphere are reminiscent of an upscale Italian bar, something you might find in Milan but certainly not a sleepy Italian village.
Enthusiasts of Italian travel know that a bar isn’t only for cocktails. In Italian bar’s patrons stop by for espresso in the morning, then perhaps for a panino and wine at lunch. After dinner, people meet friends for a “digestivo”—Italian for “desert drink”.
When my friend and I went to Gelati, we dined outside. Server Dani and manager John took excellent care of us. The menu revolves every six weeks, with weekly wine specials. For our first course we went with the crisp Catrala Sauvignon Blanc, with peachy, citrus, grassy tones. For our main dishes we had the ruby-colored Catrala Merlot, with bursts of smoky oak and berry flavors.
First we sampled the Truffle Mousse, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and a Seafood Cheese Dip. Each ramekin was trimmed with fresh herbs and surrounded by gourmet crackers. The mousse was my favorite—the rich truffle flavor tempered by the addition of liver. The Seafood Cheese Dip reminded me of Greek Taramosalata, but was much lighter.
My friend Darren had the Andalusia Gazpacho. The appearance and taste is more subtle than traditional gazpacho. Tomato, which often overwhelms gazpacho, did not do so here. The garlic and spices added a nuanced, well-rounded bite. I had the Creole Cold Cucumber soup, which was divine. The texture is akin to creamy chèvre cheese.
The Salmon Enchiladas – like the gazpacho—were an unusual take on a standard dish. Spinach tortillas were filled with salmon, baby spinach, and covered in a sherry cream sauce, topped with creamy Fontina cheese. The dish was decadent without being heavy and gave balance to the robust flavors.
The Niçoise Salad is not your standard tuna, string beans, piece of ham affair, too often presented at eateries with European flair. Gelati Martini’s Niçoise merges blackened bay scallops, capers, black olives, and wild rice. The freshness of the greens and the smokiness of the scallops really made this item stand out.
As the name implies, Guy has not left everything sweet a few doors down. For dessert he has a new concept: luscious, homemade gelati or sorbetti, served in a martini glass, infused with an array of liqueurs.
Names like Marlene Dietrich, and Coco Chanel playfully title the martinis. My guest opted for the Shirley Jones—rich dulce de leché cheesecake gelato, kissed with apple rum and fresh whipped cream. I was tempted by Coco but went with Carlo Ponti. The Italian director is honored with mocha coffee gelato infused with coffee liqueur, topped with a shot of espresso and chocolate fudge. Each martini is a luscious, sophisticated way for an adult to enjoy an ice cream confection.
Guy and his staff hope to make Gelati Martini Lounge a destination for regulars and occasional guests alike. Whether you come weekly for a meal or only when he has live music scheduled, you’ll be able to capture a little bit of Italian bar culture on Wilton Drive.
For more information please call 954.537.7731 or stop in to say ‘Ciao!’ at 2037 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors.