The season of cold, sweet treats is among us here in St. Petersburg, Florida, also known as “The Sunshine City.” Summer is approaching and that only means that temperatures are rising and rising. As the thermometer creeps higher, take it as a great excuse to indulge in a refreshing confection. Fortunately, Paciugo Gelato and Caffé, located at 300 Beach Drive in Downtown St. Pete, offers dozens of mouth-watering gelato flavors to cool you down on a hot day and make your belly button smile!
Sunday – Thursday: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…gelato! Why? Simply due to the fact that Italians have this great tendency to produce exceptional food. Lesson number one: gelato is healthier than ice cream because it is made with milk rather than cream. This makes the fat content seventy percent less than ice cream. Lesson number two: Paciugo Gelato looks good from fifteen feet away and it tastes even better than it appears (if that’s possible). The quality of the actual product is remarkable. They make it in house, with no preservatives, using real ingredients such as coffee grounds, fresh cheesecake and yummy fruit.
When owner, Carl Riche, moved to Downtown St. Pete from Oklahoma (where he knew the Walton family and even helped open the first Sam’s Club – wow!), he wanted to open a business that he could be proud of. Prior to opening, he searched for the finest gelato he could find, and we are so glad he stumbled upon Paciugo and brought the franchise to our neighborhood. Although he calls this stage of he and his wife, Toni’s, life “retirement,” he is excited that they own a place where people are genuinely happy to come into.
Riche opened Paciugo Gelato in 2006 and it quickly became a beloved go-to spot for tourists and locals because of the quality and European atmosphere. Guests can enjoy their favorite flavor of this Italian delicacy while sitting on beautiful Beach Drive in Downtown St. Pete overlooking the gorgeous waterfront. Paciugo is near Shapiro’s Gallery and Steve Westphal‘s restaurants Parkshore Grill and 400 Beach Drive Seafood and Tap House, other favorites of ours.
“It’s the American dream to be able to go and start something and then it be successful,” Riche said as he appreciatively spoke of his business in DTSP. “We took a chance and it’s really been nice. The people of St. Pete have been terrific! It’s really a unique town.”
Whether you are looking for a dessert for after dinner or a mid-day snack, Paciugo Gelato is a place you must visit. If you are not sure what to order (because all of the options are scrumptious), crowd favorites include all of the chocolate flavors and the Mediterranean Sea Salt. When I asked Carl what his favorite was, he laughed and began listing them all (although he started with Baccio and Raspberry) because they are all different and equally delicious.
Next time that sweet tooth of yours speaks to you, head on over to Paciugo Gelato and Caffé in Downtown St. Pete. Perhaps you will see the owner, Carl Riche, in the shop if he is not flying his plane around the country to visit his beautiful family (he and Toni have seven grandchildren!). Don’t forget to tell them that DowntownStPete.com sent you!
Downtown St. Pete is flourishing and, just like the city, DowntownStPete.com is growing as well. Create your free profile to find out about all of the 5-star places to go, the best events and things to do, and the sparkling personalities to meet who make our community so special. When you visit Paciugo, post a photo of you enjoying your favorite flavor onto Downtown Now to share with other members who work, live or play in DTSP. We can’t wait to hear from you!