If you’re looking for a local dessert with authentic Italian flair, Paciugo has the cold treat for you.
They specialize in freshly made gelato in almost any flavor you can imagine.
“I like it so far. You get to hang out and eat ice cream all day long,” said Paul Horton who owns a Paciugo branch in Plano.
For Horton, whipping gelato at Paciugo is sweeter than his last job working for a retailer.
“I was working an office job -- got tired of the monotonous Monday through Friday routine, decided I wanted to do something for myself and started investigating businesses,” said Horton.
While the roots of gelato wind from overseas long ago, some of what’s used to make the flavors still comes from there.
“We still follow all the traditional Italian recipes for making gelato. A lot of the specialty ingredients we get imported from Italy. It’s the only place you can find the real gelato ingredients that you want,” said Horton.
Started in Dallas by Italian immigrants, Paciugo has grown from one outpost in 2000 to 17 DFW-area locations -- and more on the way. The brand has expanded to around 15 states, and even crossed oceans to an international spot in the Cayman Islands, according to their website.
The deliciously fresh product is gaining followers all over and, believe it or not, gelato is healthier than ice cream.
“The main difference between gelato and regular ice cream is gelato is made from whole milk instead of cream so our product is always going to be 70 percent less fat than regular ice cream. Plus, it is always a fresh product. We make it in store everyday. There’s no preservatives, no artificial flavorings,” said Horton.
At Paciugo you’ll find plenty of variety.
“We usually offer 30-32 different flavors of gelato everyday. We always have 6-8 different sorbets out as well. We’re selecting all those flavors from a pool of probably over 350 different flavors to choose from right now. So, that way, we are always swapping flavors in and out everyday so there is going to be something new and different out every time you come in,” said Horton.
“It’s nice seeing a smile on people’s faces when they come in here for a treat and they sometimes are tasting our product for the first time and they just absolutely love it," said Horton. "I mean, we are really are trying to create a little piece of Italy, you know, the Italian experience right here in Texas.”
The second best part about the job? The mandatory taste testing.
“That’s the sacrifice we have to do for the job is the quality control we have to taste a lot of the gelato every morning,” said Horton.
It doesn’t take much to make gelato. All you need is whole milk, natural flavoring and the real fruits, nuts or candy that dress up the fun flavors. Of course, having an industrial gelato machine helps.
After moving here from London 20 years ago, this business has changed Horton’s life. What some may might see as the American dream.
“I guess you can say it is. I have a young family. I own a business. My kids love it. They think Daddy owns an ice cream store so it’s the best thing for them. I enjoy doing what I’m doing what I do. I enjoy getting up in the mornings coming to work I mean what more can you ask for out of life,” said Horton.
Plano / Preston & Park
2301 Preston Rd., Ste. 2301A
Plano, Texas, 75093