Buona Gelato: A Taste of Italy in the Upper Valley.Humorist Garrison Keillor has been quoted as saying that sweet corn is better than sex. He is wrong. Sex is good. Fresh sweet corn is good. But neither is as good as Morgan Morano's gelato. Just turned 27, the young entrepreneur opened her gelateria on Main Street in Hanover last April and business boomed throughout the summer. The fall foliage is a perfect excuse to take a drive up and around the Upper Valley, just don't forget to stop at Morano Gelato while you're up there. Rich and creamy, you might be surprised to learn that gelato has a lower fat content than most American ice creams, especially the super premiums that have developed a huge fan following. With less butterfat, the flavors are wonderfully intense. The dark chocolate literally explodes on your tongue. It is the perfect complement to espresso, sweet milk and the fruit flavors Morgan makes every morning.Morgan got her first taste of the kitchen at 13 in her family's Italian seafood restaurant on Fire Island. Her uncles didn't want the young girl near the hot stoves so she plated desserts and was soon experimenting with sweets. She spent all of her summers at the restaurant and knew she wanted to be in the food business. She went on to earn degrees at both the University of Connecticut and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.After graduation Morgan worked as a pastry chef and began traveling back and forth to Italy. Morgan explains, "I wanted hands-on experience in Italy. I take pride in my family, my roots and heritage. I met my mentor and friend Chef Antonio Cafarelli on my first trip to Florence. Antonio recognized my passion, gave me a job and taught me how to make Sicilian gelato."Having lived in Hanover as a child, Morgan was happy to return last year to open her Sicilian gelateria. While she considered New York City, she picked Hanover because "the Upper Valley is so beautiful. I have many fond memories of Hanover and many of my friends from middle school are still around." She continues, "My mother lives in the area and my dad loved it here. Before he died, he always wanted to start a business in Hanover. Dad loved sweets and, in many ways, the shop is a tribute to him."Morgan tested the market in 2010, selling her gelato at the farmers market and a local café. Locals and tourists fell in love with it. And what's not to love? Morgan confesses that she is fresh-obsessed and takes no shortcuts. Starting as early as 6 a.m., she churns out fresh gelato every day with a machine built to her specifications and shipped from Italy. Morgan says she doesn't mind the hard work: "I love being in the kitchen and never get tired of making gelato. I make everything from scratch and am very conscious of what goes into my gelato. I only use the finest, freshest ingredients and shop local whenever I can. I follow old world, artisanal traditions; cooking with real products, never pastes or fillers. Just like in Italy, the menu changes daily." [Continued onStaying close to Italian traditions, Morgan sticks to the flavors you find in tiny gelaterias tucked into the back streets of Florence and Palermo. She even labels her gelati in Italian and English. Focusing on local produce, she'll have apple and pear gelati throughout the fall. Occasionally, she does stray and bows to American tastes and traditions. Although you won't find them in Italy, Morgan frequently makes a special pumpkin gelato in the fall as well as eggnog at Christmas time and maple syrup in the early spring.Throughout the summer, there were lines out the door and the terrace outside the shop was filled with happy gelato fans. Morgan is grateful for the warm reception the shop has received. Her business philosophy has been critical to her success: "I have wonderful employees and we stay focused on the customer. The customer is everything to us, what they need, what they want." The shop is spotless and Morgan and her always-smiling staff frequently dished up to 1,000 cups and cones on hot summer days.Luckily for Morgan, New Englanders have a long tradition of eating ice cream and now gelato regardless of the temperature outside. However, on cold blustery days you may want to warm up with an espresso or cappuccino. Morano has a traditional coffee bar, just like you would find in Italy, and half a dozen small tables. If you're hungry for something sweet but don't feel like gelato, Morgan also makes a thick, rich Italian hot chocolate and imports pastries from Sicily.Buon appetito! NH Morano Gelato
Next to the Nugget Movie Theater at
57 South Main St. in Hanover
(603) 643-4233Opening Hours
Sunday to Thursday: 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (Closed Mondays during fall and winter)
Friday & Saturday: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.Writer and gelato aficionado Susan Nye lives in New London. You can find more of her stories and lots of recipes on her blog at www.susannye.wordpress.com.
This article appears in the October 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine