You don’t have to go all the way to Italy for authentic, handcrafted gelato, you can get it right here in Jacksonville! Bambino Scoops churns our fresh flavors every day that are made in house by owner Zena Velic.
Zena Velic and her daughter Innes.
Zena is a mom, a marathon runner and an expert in gelato. Originally from Bosnia, Zena came to the US as a refugee when she was eight years old and now she has made it her mission to make an impact on her community. “I always wanted to give something back to the city because I feel obligated. When I came I was given everything and I wanted to create something that I could give to the community,” she said.
Tastes of gelato at Bambino Scoops. If you’re not sure what flavor to get taste a few!
So Bambino Scoops was born, created around the concept of giving back to her community. She came up with the idea when she was thinking about how unhealthy ice cream is. “Being a runner I was always thinking I can’t have anything sweet because I’m just going to regret it next day. Because of my sweet tooth I found a way. Yes we can have sugar but there are limitations. You can have sugar that is not too much sugar and that’s what I’m creating.”
The difference between ice cream and gelato might surprise you.
“Gelato is made with whole milk and less sugar and nothing artificial is in gelato,” Zena explains. “There’s no coloring. Everything gets made with real fruits while ice cream it’s made with 2% milk and then more sugar. So that’s why ice cream is thick and gelato is more airy it’s more smooth. The texture is different because there’s not a lot of sugar in gelato.”
Coconut gelato at Bambino Scoops.
Zena knows a thing or two about making gelato. She is actually certified in it! After studying the chemistry of how it’s made in Italy and then continuing her studies in Miami, she’s a pro and there’s proof in every one of her delicious flavors. Each is carefully crafted in their shop and made fresh every single day.
You can get the classics like chocolate and strawberry or Lemon, one of Zena’s favorites. If you’re feeling adventurous give pink guava, rose or gingerbread a try. You won’t regret it!
She also makes other desserts like crepes and even her own inventions like homemade cookie dough bites dipped in Belgian chocolate. She even has weekly desserts from different countries like fresh Baklava.
A strawberry crepe with vanilla gelato.
If you’re wondering where the name Bambino comes from Zena says that it stands for something small and cute like a gelato scoop but there’s a deeper meaning too. “Bambino is familiar in every language, every nationality” she says. “Jacksonville, it is very diverse city and I was thinking it is a place where everybody can come and find something familiar.”
Zena’s favorite part about making gelato is seeing the reactions of the people that try the flavors.
“When people try gelato and when they get their flavor, that smile on their face. They’re like yes I love this I’ve never had something like this! When we just made rose we had like one lady she came three days in a row, she couldn’t resist,” she says.
Rose gelato at Bambino Scoops.
“So when you see how people react to it and I love to see parents because people are more aware of what we’re eating. So I see parents more willing to give gelato to children because they know that it’s made with whole milk and less sugar and it’s made here. You can see the parents they feel more comfortable in that scoop.”
When you walk into Bambino Scoops you’ll notice that the walls are covered in sticky notes. “When I opened the store I was thinking ‘What can I have from everybody here besides just coming and getting gelato and spending money’… I wanted to build something that is more than business to connect with people.”
The wall of sticky notes at Bambino Scoops.
With sticky notes she is doing just that. “Whoever comes here leaves something that we know you’ve been here and it’s going to stay forever with us.”
Zena plans to expand Bambino and make it a place for everyone from young professionals to students to parents with kids to even hosting school spirit nights!
Address – 2771 Monument Road Suite 36 Jacksonville, Florida 32225
Phone – 904-566-7149
Instagram – @BambinoScoops