Memphis-based Zio Matto Gelato offers hand-made Italian ice cream

You don’t have to travel to Italy to have authentic Italian ice cream. Zio Matto Gelato makes artisanal ice cream in small batches right here in Memphis.

This small food company makes authentic Italian ice cream using Italian techniques from scratch.

The flavors include the traditional offerings that you will find in an ice cream shop in Rome: Chocolate, Coffee, Hazelnut, Mango, Pistachio and Stracciatella.

Zio Matto Gelato founder and chef Matteo Servente keeps his offerings simple for a reason. “There is a factor of simplicity at the base of Italian cuisine. These are a few simple cooked ingredients, ”he said. “Our ice cream is as close as possible to the Italian product.

Zio Matto Gelato co-owners Matteo Servente and Ryan Watt at the Memphis Farmers Market.

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“Something I couldn’t really find here”

When Servente moved to Memphis from Turin, Italy, he looked for foods cooked as they were prepared at home. Unable to find what he was looking for, he developed a passion for preparing food for himself and his friends. Over time, this filmmaker decided that there might be a business opportunity in the kitchen.

“At first I thought pizza or pasta could have been a good import and business idea,” he said. “But then I went for the gelato because it was something I couldn’t really find here.”

Servente found an ice cream parlor in Italy who taught her how to make ice cream by hand. He decided that this old-fashioned way of making ice not only gave him more control, it also made financial sense by not purchasing expensive ice-making equipment.

Zio Matto Gelato owners Matteo Servente and Ryan Watt make their ice cream in a commercial kitchen in Memphis Tilth on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Servente rented a commercial kitchen and got to work. One of his first calls was to Miles Tamboli to see if he would carry his ice cream. That was about nine months ago.

“I have always known Matteo as a filmmaker, and in this regard, I already know his commitment to quality. So when he called me one day and asked if I wanted to try ice cream, I didn’t think twice, ”said Tamboli, owner of Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza. “He’s clearly focused on finding great ingredients, like any true Italian, and his ice cream is divine. This first taste brought me directly to the beach of Senigallia, where the Tambolis originate from.

“All I can say is Matteo’s gelato is the real deal. I don’t know the secret, but the texture is perfect, the flavors are rich and balanced, and I know the gelato is made with it. integrity It’s hard to find anything good anywhere outside of Italy.

Grow the business

Today, Zio Matto is present in 14 markets and restaurants in the Memphis area.

“I started with restaurants that I knew,” Servente said, explaining that he wanted to be in places with food and service that he appreciated.

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Zio Matto Gelato co-owner Matteo Servente is making gelato in a commercial kitchen in Memphis Tilth on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

At the start of 2021, Servente called on Ryan Watt as co-owner and business partner. Servente had known Watt for years through Watt’s role as the former executive director of Indie Memphis. “It’s great to be associated with someone I know and have worked with before,” said Servente.

Zio Matto Gelato comes in individual serving containers, each with two scoops. Servente said her bestsellers are chocolate and stracciatella.

“95% of the people at Memphis Farmers Market ask me what Stracciatella is,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to chocolate chip ice cream. But it’s our purest flavor, and it’s the foundation of everything we make.

And curious about the name? Zio Matto translates to “Crazy Uncle”.

“When my niece was little she couldn’t pronounce my name correctly,” Servent said. “She called me Matto (which means crazy in Italian). Me being his uncle (Zio in Italian). ”

For a list of stores carrying Zio Matto Gelato, visit

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

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