Oro Valley has a taste of Sicily in the strip plaza on North Oracle Road next to the Fairfield Inn and Suites and a quick jaunt from the town’s residential center.
Giovanni’s Gelato Café at 10110 N. Oracle Road has been open two months, with a menu of 49 gelato flavors made from ingredients largely imported from Italy, said owner Giovanni Rizza, whose wife Agnes is the gelato chef.
“Everything. The recipes. The ingredients. The coffee. Everything for the gelato comes from Italy except the milk and sugar,” he said.
Rizza is a native of Sicily who has been in the United States since 1967. He moved here as a 24-year-old fleeing poor economic conditions and settled in Chicago, where he sold and developed real estate.
He and his wife moved to Tucson eight years ago and toyed with the idea of opening a gelato shop. But they couldn’t find the ideal location and after a couple of years, they returned to Chicago. They have been back here a year.
Rizza said he bought the commercial plaza in August 2014 and decided to open the gelato shop in a vacant space at one end; the restaurant Blaze — A Flavor Inferno anchors the other end of the plaza.
The shop’s renovation took a year, which also included trips to Italy where he purchased equipment and gelato ingredients.
In addition to gelato, Giovanni’s Gelato Café also sells Italian coffees and pastries including cannoli and tiramisu. Gelato starts at $3.75 for a small and tops out at $5.55 for an eight-ounce serving. You also can get it by the pint and quart.
Giovanni’s is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.