Last night, brothers and business partners Adrian and Cosmin Bota unveiled the latest concept for their homegrown Piccadilly Artisan Creamery. Piccadilly's third ice cream shop, located in University Circle across the street from the Cleveland Institute of Art, introduces Clevelanders to the coolest trend in ice cream.
"We can make ice cream or yogurt on the spot in front of you to whatever specifications you want using liquid nitrogen," Adrian explains.
Piccadilly University Circle is an "a la minute ice cream parlor," where ice cream is made to order using an ultra-cold churning process that employs liquid nitrogen.
"There are about 25 or 30 of these kinds of places scattered around the country," says Adrian. "We think it's going to be the next big thing."
Guests can customize their orders right down to the dairy, flavors, fillings and toppings (including the option of using goat's milk down the road). The ingredients are popped into a candy-colored Kitchen Aid mixer and liquid nitrogen is added. A whoosh of cool smoke envelops the workstation and in a little over 90 seconds, real ice cream is made. Three workstations should help keep wait times down.
While there's plenty of theater involved, the process is much more than just show.
"Because liquid nitrogen is so cold — 320 degrees below zero — the water particles in the dairy have no opportunity to crystallize. This results in the creamiest texture and richest flavor possible," adds Adrian. Customers don't ingest the nitrogen; it evaporates into vapor.
All of the dairy is local and grass-fed, with zero antibiotics, hormones or coloring, notes Adrian. This ultra-cold churning process also means that customers can enjoy a scoop here or take pints to go that contain no additives.
"Even the best gourmet ice creams have preservatives, emulsifiers or stabilizers in them if you're going to put them on store shelves," explains Adrian. "Ours don't, and they'll last 30 days."
Indeed, the ice cream we all sampled — caramel with sea salt, mint chocolate chip, chocolate — was incredibly smooth, creamy and jam-packed with intense flavor. Prices will be comparable to that sold in other shops ($4.50 for a small, $5.75 for a large).
The rustic-industrial scoop shop will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, May 24th at noon. At first, just 12 flavors will be available.