On the left Eleonora Azzalini (chef) and Stefano Tansella. L’Amarena team on the right.
A small town boy from India visits this exotic island of Palau and on his second day, he comes across L’Amarena. This little gelato shop tucked in the roadside corner ran by an Italian family needs no descriptive introduction for anyone who has been around Koror even for a day.
Back home in India I just assumed gelato and ice cream to be the same but I’ve been told that there’s a big difference.
With more than 140 flavors, L’Amarena stands out of the ordinary as it blends this small pacific island with Verona which is the city of Romeo and Juliet.
Eleonora Azzalini (44) and her husband Stefano Tansella (50) who hail from Verona as well start to make this delicious and popular frozen treat at 7 AM and follow 20 flavours per day rule which are on display by 11 AM.
Tansella said, “We make several flavours in a very precise chain. We keep four or five classic flavours everyday like Vanilla, Chocolate and Amarena which is black cherry.”
Azzalini who is the chef blends fruits available only in Palau and the Italian ingredients resulting in flavors exclusively available at L’amarena.
While talking to me about the city of Romeo and Juliet with a sense of nostalgia Tansella adds, “It is one of the most beautiful town in Italy. We had a happy life and we were quite successful in our work.”
To my surprise both husband and wife were teachers in Italy where Eleonora taught in public schools and Stefano was a university human-animal relationship professor.
The couple first set foot in Palau in 2016 and fell in love with the island. They decided to start L’Amarena in 2017 which is their first business venture.
“When we came here, we saw a different kind of world. We liked our life but we were very curious to experience something new. So we changed everything.” Tansella said.
“We changed continent, language, system of life, rules. We changed everything and that was very fun.” He added.
Tansella expressed immense gratitude to the local community and as a company policy only hires young locals who get training at L’Amarena itself.
The couple has a 12 year old school going son and a 22 year old son who helps run the family business.
Even though the shop is relatively new, Tansella is open to the possibility of expansion in other parts of Palau.
“Until some years ago I would have never said [thought] to be here in this moment. Coming to Palau we learn to say never say never.” He said.
He also went on to hint that someday it could be the scenario where L’Amarena opens up in other pacific countries as well.
The Italian owner believes in letting the Gelato shop be a fun experience and tries to keep it a light hearted place. L’Amarena instagram page where coworkers often post something funny about life at a gelato shop is quite popular among the young insta users in Palau.
I couldn’t help but ask about the video that was posted on L’Amarena Instagram page where every worker along with Tansella is seen cleaning and dancing around.
“It was very spontaneous. In one moment we were cleaning and another we were making a video.” Tansella said.
“We sell something that is not fundamental to life. We want to give our customers a sort of experience where they can come here, have our fresh product and have fun.” He adds.
He also clears that there is high level professionalism is maintained but with a balance where everything around is very casual.
The family feels that people don’t talk anymore; they sit down in a bar and look at the phone all the time. It is for this very reason that there is no WiFi at L’Amarena which actually makes it stand out from most places.
“We didn’t intend this place for visitors or only locals. We get very happy when we see locals and visitors talk together. That is the goal we wanted to reach.” He said.
He adds, “For us, food is a sharing experience. We didn’t offer WiFi because they get it at other place. Here the mind is open to enjoy the food and have a chat with friends or other people.” (By Eshan Kalyanikar)