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Italian Gelato in Markham Chinese Mall

I did a search but no one seems to have raised this yet but...

Strange as it seems, an Italian gelato and pastry shop has opened up at First Markham Place at Woodbine/Hwy 7. It's called Piazza Gelateria & Cafe, located inside the mall (where you can get pirated DVD's) at the southern-most entrance where the Optical place used to be.

My Italian brother-in-law says it's the real deal as they have a store in Woodbridge as well and they may have the best Gelato in TO! But opening inside a Chinese mall? I don't know. I went there for a look and they were fairly busy on this Sunday afternoon! Didn't buy anything (too cold today for ice cream!) but picked up a brochure and found they have a website as well: http://www.piazzagelateria.com/.

Has anybody tried this place or the one in Woodbridge?

Kind of risky to open an Italian Gelateria & Cafe inside a mall where 98% of patrons are Chinese... probably as ballsy and GRANDiose as opening a dim sum restaurant in Etobicoke! ...sorry Bokchoi! ;-)

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  1. i for one think it's a smart move and think it will do very well.... even in my relatively small asian network of friends, i find the chinese are some of the most adventurous gastronomes, and are more likely than other asians (ie. koreans) to dine out - also, markham's population is growing at a phenomenal pace and places like first markham place is not just patronized by the chinese. my friends and I in the north part of town often end up eating out at chinese because it is hard to find quality non-chinese restos in markham, so this will be a welcome addition to the foodie landscape of north GTA

    besides, so hard to find a decent dessert/cafe in this neck of the woods!

    1. Chinese people know their food. If it's good, they'll flock to it.

      1. I tried it for the first time a few days ago, but I've only tasted the bacio and the pistachio. I can't objectively (or even subjectively) say anything just yet because when I did try it, I was suffering from a cold that put a damper on my tastebuds -- but the pistachio seemed quite decent. I may be back, but the service wasn't precisely the greatest.

        The portions seem a bit small for the prices compared to Solferino, Il Gelatiere, Dolce, Soma, etc., but I may be mistaken, since it's been a while since I've been to other gelato places. By that I mean, their prices correspond roughly to other places for the respective sizes, but the size of the cups seem smaller and the way they doled it out speaks of restraint rather than abundance.

        1. I think most cultures enjoy ice cream. I know what you are thinking...gelato is not ice cream. But what I am saying is, any place that has decent foot traffic is a good place for gelato or ice cream.
          or any other kind of good snack for that matter.

          1. Nice one, syoung - enjoyed the pun.

            If the prices are good, the patrons of the mall and surrounding area will flock to it - I find. However, from reading about the comments below, me thinks that they place may not find a solid foothold if they are indeed pricier than Solferino, et al.

            May have to wait until next summer to try it out - getting a bit nippy as of late. Thanks for the tip though.


            1 Reply
            1. re: BokChoi

              Oh it's never too cold for gelato. :)

            2. I personally don't enjoy the stores at First Markham, although I do get my contacts there. Whenever I'm back at home, I visit the mall and my friend always insists we eat in the food court. I still don't know what's so great about the food court.

              I will definitely have to try the gelato though! I'm a big fan of Dolce and it'll be great news if there's an even closer source of gelato goodness when I'm back uptown.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ayl

                There's a decent BBQ meats place there in the food court (or you could walk outside to Peaktop), also a mainland chinese stall that's quite authentic.

                So I'm still waiting for the final verdict about this gelato place... is it the real deal (i.e. quality on par with IL Gelatiere, my gold standard)? Sorry Isk, reviews w/ 2 key bodily senses knocked out of commission do not count in my books. :)

                1. re: ayl

                  There is a particular stand in the food court that sells excellent potstickers and other northern Chinese fare. Forgot the name though

                2. Finally remembered to try out the gelato there today. Seemed to be owned/operated by authentic italians working there. Had the peach, roasted almond and chocolate. The peach was the only one I enjoyed, but it tasted more candy fruit like than real peach. Chocolate was a real let down, very diluted flavour. Roasted almond was very heavy cream based with a few nut chunks. Portions were small and prices steep. Overall disappointing, nothing near the quality of Il Gelatiere or even some of Hollywood Gelato's stuff.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Royaljelly

                    Thanks for the warning, Royaljelly.

                    1. re: Royaljelly

                      Sorry to raise this thread again but someone brought up in another thread about desserts in Richmond Hill and so reminded me of this place. Here's my update...

                      We talked with the owners and they explained that the reason they opened up a store in Markham was because their original Woodbridge store was getting about 20% Chinese clientele which is a high proportion given there aren't so many Chinese residing in Woodbridge. So they saw the opportunity to open up a store in Markham to serve the Chinese market and they have been very successful so far. So successful in fact, that they've opened up another store at Market Village (that strip mall beside Pacific Mall) through a franchise agreement.

                      Royalijelly, we've been there a few times and I can't agree with your comments. We've tried pretty well everything (via sampling) and though some flavors may be a bit muted, we thought most were quite good and definitely better than Hollywood Gelato by miles. One note is that, in our conversations with the owners, they said they use only natural ingredients and no food coloring which cannot be said of Il Gelatiere or Hollywood. For example, their pastacio gelato is not green because that's not the natural color of pastacio. Their restriction to use only natural ingredients and no artificial flavor enhancers may contribute to some of the flavors being muted.

                      Re portion size, they're smaller than Hollywood but bigger than Il Gelatiere which we found gives the smallest portions found anywhere in the GTA. The cups used by Il Gelatiere are the shallowest I've ever seen anywhere; it's deceiving to see the ice cream piled so high only to find the bottom half way into the cup. It amounts to what I consider to be a false bottom.

                      Overall we thought Piazza Gelateria was very good and the natural ingredient angle is a great selling point to my wife who's a health nut. We bought their gelato cakes on 2 occasions for relatively large parties (>10 people) and a couple of smaller parties and everyone (including "authentic Italians" - to use Royalijelly's terms!) were glowing in praise.

                      We'll definitely go again, though maybe when it's not so cold!

                      1. re: syoung

                        I believe you meant Pacific Mall and not Market Village; Piazza Gelateria opened a franchise near the South entrance of Pacific Mall, where one of many pirated DVD stores used to be I think.

                        1. re: meowx2

                          Actually there is a store open in Pacific Mall and I recently noticed another Piazza Gelateria sign going up in Market Village as well. I thought they would do very well in a Chinese area. I'm Chinese myself, but we are not very good at making good sweets and nice looking cakes, etc!

                          1. re: szw

                            Just a slight disagreement here... Chinese have not normally been very good at making WESTERN style cakes and pastries. I recently came back from Hong Kong and lots of excellent Chinese desserts and sweet snacks there that you won't find here.

                            On the subject of Piazza Gelateria, we just had their tiramisu cake and it's one of the best I've had in Toronto.

                    2. I quite like their gelato. It is not too sweet. Their cake is good too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yyft

                        which cakes are good that ppl have tried?? Mom's bday is coming up and wanted to try this place ever since discovering it first @ Market Village, than see them move to Pacific Mall.

                        Note: She is not a fan of chocolate..... yes yes... i know it is a shocker... haha...

                        Btw, for the Pacific Mall location, do you have to order in advance for cakes or do they normally stock a variety?? I'm assuming this is just a "hub" location and don't actually make the products there, but instead get shipped from their main location.