Gelito Italian Ice Cream

Photographs by Lana Daher

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Gelito Italian Ice Cream
Raouché, Al Shamas Building
Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: 01 809 550
Opened April 1986 by Yahya Ibrahim

Précis: Mr. Ibrahim, an extraordinarily tall man from Nabatiyeh, once owned a small stand that sold “merry cream,” soft-serve, and slush ice. Achieving modest success in that venture, he expanded into the space that Gelito occupies today, overlooking the Mediterranean on Raouché’s bluff above the city. Mr. Ibrahim’s ice cream is made in Lebanon, but the dishes and furniture hail from Rome and the inspiration for the pasta-themed ice cream also clearly comes from Italy. Highlights include “Spaghetti Ice” — a mound of gelato strained like spaghetti, layered with a strawberry-flavored “tomato sauce,” and drizzled with coconut “Parmesa” — and the boat-like “Cup Lazania.” In the words of one regular customer, Mr. Ibrahim’s ice cream, which comes in fifty different flavors, “tastes like childhood.”

“It’s a little like watered-down milk,” she continued. “Or like ice cream when it melts off of a cheap cone and onto your hands.”

Gelito is part of a long-term project by Lana Daher on ice cream and the coast of Lebanon.

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