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true Italian indulgence

Prime Gelato at the corner of Red River and Cumberland in Thunder Bay's Waterfront District • Credit: Chelsea Cameron-Fikis
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true Italian indulgence

prime gelato

A diverse menu of gelato and sorbetto made in-house from locally sourced ingredients.

It’s time to reconsider your summer treat of choice on your visit to Thunder Bay this summer. It’s time for locally sourced, uniquely-flavoured, delicious gelato and sorbetto instead of, well, plain ice cream!

Prime Gelato is a welcome addition to the family of hip and trendy local restaurants, bars and shops in Thunder Bay's Waterfront District.  Situated right on the busy corner of Cumberland and Red River (200 Red River Road), this specialty dessert stiop is a short walk to waterfront at Prince Arthur's Landing.

Welcome Prime Gelato!

Prime Gelato offers a diverse menu of high quality, artisanal gelato and sorbetto made in-house from locally sourced ingredients. For example, local farmers help to supply all of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and sweeteners used (i.e. fresh strawberries from DeBruin’s Greenhouse), while the dairy used to make the gelato is from the Slate River Valley!

On the menu you might find gelato flavours like Nutella, Pistacchio, Cherry, or Gingersnaps, and sorbetto flavours like Limone, Chocolate Banana, St. Paul Roastery Coffee or Strawberry Mint (keep in mind sorbetto is dairy-free). The menu is constantly changing according to the creative inspirations from the chefs in the kitchen and the ingredients available, thus you’re guaranteed to be surprised and delighted each and every time you visit.

What is Gelato?

Gelato, the infamous Italian-style “ice cream” that you once thought could only be enjoyed on the bustling streets of Italy, is now available in Thunder Bay for you to enjoy!

Owner Anne-Marie Calonego knows a thing or two about real, authentic gelato because she not only attended a Gelato University in Italy with her husband, but her mission is to offer you the absolute best quality and best tasting gelato that does not cut any corners! If you are curious, check out Prime Gelato’s website for a more detailed description of how gelato compares to ice cream; however, the key points to remember are: gelato is milk-based (not cream based); it has a lower fat content (talk about a healthier summer treat); and it’s served at a warmer temperature allowing for your taste buds to enjoy the flavours more intensely!

Support Local & Sustainable!

The availability of local milk via the Slate River Valley provided Anne-Marie the opportunity to open her one-of-a-kind business, a true locavore’s haven. As previously mentioned, all of the ingredients that go into making Prime Gelato products are sourced from local farmers and producers, while the shop is also committed to diverting all waste and making all materials totally compostable (check out the compostable serving cups and wooden spoons). Anne-Marie firmly believes in the business philosophy “if you support Thunder Bay, it will support you back;” thus, customers can feel positive about supporting a business that is committed to using the best of what Northwestern Ontario has to offer while also displaying sustainable and responsible business practices.

Other Items on the Menu & Plans for the Future:

For anyone who did not attend Gelato University, you may be interested to know that gelato can also be made into a savory treat as well! To date Prime Gelato has offered savory gelato flavours such as Salted Olive Oil, Creamed Corn, Local Red Trout and Parmesan! As surprising and different as these flavours may sound, they pair excellently with menu items like a charcuterie board, or as a delicacy on top of a salad, (visions Anne-Marie holds for the future after she achieves her goal of reaching a wholesale scale where she can offer her unique, great-tasting gelato to restaurants in Thunder Bay and all over Ontario).

What else can you find on the menu? Alcoholic gelatos/sorbettos can be found on the menu at Prime Gelato, (I was lucky enough to try the Irish Cream and Galianno Pluot flavours - both were delicious); there is a tasting flight currently in the works that will feature six unique flavours that you can share with a partner and really engage your taste buds; and there will also be other menu items available soon like a Root Beer Float, a Waffle Cone, or a Coldbrew Affrogato.

Prime Gelato is open all year round. In the winter months Anne-Marie and her staff offer a few more menu items while continuing to keep the focus on gelato, for instance, authentic crêpes with gelato on top, or Brioche Con Gelato (sweet bread with gelato in the middle). Yum, stay tuned!

Enjoy your gelato while sitting by the large garage windows that are frequently open on  hot summer days!

Hours & Prices:

Prime Gelato is open sevcen days a week in the summer 12 pm to 10 pm. Centrally located just minutes away from the Waterfront and other local restaurants and bars, you can swing by the shop and enjoy a delicious cup of gelato after a late night dinner, or stop in on your way down to the splash pad with the kids on a hot summer afternoon. Indulge in a perfect-sized Euro cup of gelato or sorbetto for $3.50, or enjoy a regular cup for $5 (mix and match flavours for an extra $1.50 more).

In closing, I’d recommend you try some authentic gelato at Prime Gelato by the Waterfront! The enthusiastic and friendly team of approximately 10 staff members at Prime Gelato will be very happy to navigate you through the flavours to help you find something that you love! Anne-Marie’s favourite flavour is the Maple gelato (made with local Northern Maple Syrup from St. Joseph’s Island), but I am equally torn between the Hazelnut gelato and the Strawberry Mint sorbetto. Go try some for yourself and you be the judge!

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