Local gals do it Italian style … and then some!

May 7, 2013

One of the few good things about Gelato Gal’s former location was that the last thing you ate would have been delicious - shortly before you were mowed down by the wall of cars flyin’ by that hidden entrance. Not that her refreshingly light gelato wasn’t worth that death-defying turn, but perhaps there’s more to live for - like smoked barbecue. (More about that later.)

In the interest of increased visibility (for everyone), California-born Amanda Randall and her partner Deb Buniski moved Gelato Gal to the corner of Oyster House Road and Coastal Highway, across from Big Fish Grill. Amanda grew up in the food service business, describing her itinerant family as “part gypsy.” “Our lives were built around food,” she says. “When we gave directions, restaurants were our landmarks.” Amanda stands up and points to nothing in particular: “Pass the Wendy’s, bear right at McDonald's and then hang a left at Pizza Hut.” Wow. I thought I was the only one who did that.

Her fascination with gelato began on a trip to Italy. It was love at first slurp. She peers at me over the top of her glasses: “This was, hands down, the very best thing I had ever tasted.” Gelato is an Italian version of ice cream, but the similarity ends there. Less air is whipped into the mix, and it’s served at a higher temperature than ice cream so it releases a richer taste. Amanda was hooked. Thus was born the Gelato Gal.

Their next trip to sunny Italy was built around the cool indulgence. I can just hear them now: “Pass Humberto’s Gelato Barn, bear right at Luigi’s World O’ Gelato, then hang a left at Angelina’s The Place For Gelato.” Amanda enrolled in classes at Gelato University in Italy (yes, that’s what it’s called). She graduated with the cream of the crop, scooping up honors and licking the competition in test after test. She plunked down major bucks for Italian-made machinery that she calls “the Ferrari of gelato-making equipment.”

When it came time for a more professional presence on the highway in Rehoboth Beach, her partner Deb Buniski stepped in to handle the non-food details. Deb is a highly regarded consulting engineer for civil/environmental projects, skilled in the cleanup and restructuring of ecological mishaps. She also has a knack for construction and design. It was no secret that the old building there at the north end of the canal bridge needed work, but it was solid, with lots of personality. In fact, it took Amanda and Deb almost all winter to arm-wrestle all that personality into an attractive business address for Gelato Gal.

As things began to take shape, it dawned on them that this was a lot of space to fill with just gelato, so off they went to Nahunta, Ga., to buy a solid steel meat smoker. Tutored by none other than the Kansas City Baron of Barbecue himself, they tamed the big beast (the smoker, not the Baron) so customers could wash down her Italian confection with hardwood-smoked chicken, ribs and pork.

Seems like that would be enough, huh? Nope. Something seemed to be missing, so Deb enrolled in the chocolate curriculum at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan to learn how to make chocolate candies. They invested in a tempering machine, and her truffles are already becoming the stuff of legend up and down Coastal Highway. If you’re lucky, she might have some amaretto truffles. Buy them. Trust me.

So Gelato Gal is now BBQ Gal and Truffle Gal, but gelato is her first love. “It’s not as much a recipe as it is a scientific process,” says Amanda, and though her Chocolate Zen took the grand prize for the best restaurant confection at a recent Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, some flavors don’t make the cut. Those get chalked up to “stepping stones to gelato perfection.” Ahhh! Cool gelato, mouthwatering candies and savory smoked meats: Three of the four basic food groups! Visit the new Gelato Gal. Call 302-227-1001 for hours.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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