Jacksonville has quite a few ice cream and frozen custard shops, but there is only one place serving delicious, homemade gelato. Bambino Scoops is located in the Cobblestone shopping plaza in East Arlington, at the intersection of Monument and McCormick. Owners Maria Gallo and Manuel Ponce have been operating the shop since June of 2019, after buying the name from the previous owner. The inside of the shop is very whimsical with various posters and action figures throughout. “We brought our favorite characters,” Manuel explained. He collects figures from The Simpsons and various other comics, so they wanted to incorporate that into the store.
Bambino Scoops was previously an ice cream shop, but Maria and Manuel switched the focus to gelato to bring something new to Jacksonville. Once they were up and running, they started expanding their items to include coffee, paninis, and other dessert items like cakes, macarons, and cannoli. All of their sweets are made from scratch by Maria, except for the donuts and croissants. At the urging of Maria, I made sure to try a cannoli (cannolo if you want to get technical about it!). It was heavenly. The shell was perfectly baked. It was solid enough to hold together but soft enough to bite right through without much force. The cream inside of the shell was impeccably balanced and had a wonderful consistency. Definitely would recommend 10/10.
One great thing about Bambino Scoops is that all of their gelato is made in house. Each batch takes around two days total to prepare. Day one consists mostly of mixing the ingredients together, then the batch sits overnight to blend. This step is crucial since the gelato will not taste the same if it goes into the machine on the same day. It needs to sit overnight for all of the flavors to blend and the mix to thicken. On day two, the mix gets put into the machine to create the gelato, which takes about 30-35 minutes. Once completed, the gelato is then decorated with bits of the ingredients to make it more presentable. According to Maria and Manuel , this step takes the most amount of time, “you need time. You must be inspired. You must be quiet. We try to do that with closed doors.” It’s little things like this that really make Bambino Scoops stand out.
They create all of their own flavors, and currently have more than 35 that they offer. The gelato case can only hold 17-18, so they try to rotate the flavors in and out. I asked Manuel what the most popular flavors were, and to my surprise he said that it changes seasonally. Right now Smores, Fudge Cookies & Cream, and Salted Caramel are the favorites. When I was in the store one flavor in particular caught my eye, Blue Angels. It is bright blue and instantly reminded me of my childhood favorite, Superman ice cream. The flavor consists of Tutti Frutti mixed with natural fruits, which creates kind of a bubblegum flavor. I can imagine this being a huge hit with the kids.
I have tried a couple of the flavors and my favorites so far are Smores and Salted Caramel. All of the flavors they offer are very rich without being overly sweet. I especially love all of the gelato decorations. They serve a dual purpose, to show you what each flavor is and also to make your mouth water. When you visit, make sure to get your gelato in a waffle cone. They are also made in house and are very fresh and delicious. Definitely worth your time.
I have definitely found a new favorite spot to satisfy my sweet tooth. Bambino Scoops has only been in business for 8 months, but the owners are already looking towards the future. They hope to one day expand into different neighborhoods and are currently brainstorming ideas on how to make that dream a reality. Make sure to pop in now so you can say you tried them before anyone else. With all that they offer, you could easily turn this trip into a destination. Grab a panini for lunch then a gelato for dessert, all in the same place. Or if you are like me, you could get a slice of cake with some gelato on the side. Eat like no one is watching. Live your life.