Very Italian San Francisco gelato shop Gio Gelati is beginning to expand, opening a second location farther afield in the Bay Area. It’s tucked inside the massive City Center Bishop Ranch development in San Ramon, where it starts scooping its flavors (like notable pistachio and melon options) Labor Day weekend.
At City Center Bishop Ranch, Gio joins a number of other SF exports in the 300,000-square-foot space. There’s Boba Guys, Curry Up Now, and even a branch of Charles Phan’s landmark Vietnamese restaurant the Slanted Door. City Center’s architect, the firm of prominent Italian designer Renzo Piano, reportedly inspired Gio’s owners to get onboard, too. Guido Mastrapaolo from Pesaro, Italy, and Patrizia Pasqualetti from Orvieto, Italy, say they appreciate the Italian connection and are inspired by Piano’s work.
“At Bishop Ranch, when you’re in that location you want a gelato in your hand while you walk around and enjoy the warmer weather,” says Mastrapaolo. “It’s part of our culture [in Italy], but it should be a part of every culture.”
In 2018, Pasqualetti and Mastrapaolo opened the first Gio Gelati on Union Street in Cow Hollow. Their recipes are passed down three generations to Pasqualetti, whose family runs a 40-year-old gelato business. The Gio name stands for Gelato Italiano Originale, but the ingredients, while occasionally Italian, are 90 percent from California: Fruits, nuts, and dairy for flavors like milk and figs are all local, the company advertises.
“I think gelato is essential for a certain quality of life,” says Mastrapaolo, who decided to open Gio with Pasqualetti when he couldn’t find adequate Gelato in San Francisco. Every time he visited on business — previously as an executive at Disney and later in the publishing industry — “I was like come on, I want a gelato.”
To introduce Gio to customers at City Center ahead of the opening, Gio will provide samples at Bishop Ranch, using its gelato bicycle to get around. It’s easy to pedal, says Mastrapaolo — just don’t try it on San Francisco’s steeper streets.