The reason for its failure? “Extremist radical liberals,” owner Anthony Tortoriello told northjersey.com.
But Montclair’s Gelotti owner Mike Guerriero doesn’t agree.
“We get his frustration… but that’s just not the whole story. When you come to a town, you work with the community and you reach out to people and if you make a mistake you apologize for it,” Guerriero said.
“Rather than going out gracefully, he decides to blame ‘radical, extremist liberals’ and say that they ruin everything in town and that it was a conspiracy against him and that he was never given a chance to succeed.”
Guerriero on the other hand, has had an all-together different experience with the Montclair community since Gelotti expanded its newest location to the area in 2016.
Coming off of the “best year yet,” Guerriero pointed to the town of Montclair as a main reason for the franchise’s success.
In turn, he decided to respond to Tortoriello’s criticism of the Montclair community by giving out free ice cream this coming Sunday, Dec. 16 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“We decided that we’re not going to let [Dairy Air] rain on the parade, so we’re giving out free ice cream to everyone that wants to come down… to say thank you to the Montclair community,” Guerriero said.
As it turns out, the success of Gelotti is growing rapidly as Guerriero is coming off a major national victory. In October, he became the first American-born chef to win the Gelato Festival America competition, taking first in the Santa Barbara stage with his Blueberry Basil gelato.
Fourteen years earlier, Guerriero was cleaning the parking lot of Gelotti and scooping hundreds tartufos in the summer heat.
But as time progressed, he began to learn the tricks of the trade from Gelotti founder Sal Sigona, eventually taking over the Caldwell location in 2014. In 2016, Guerriero opened a new location in Montclair.
Guerriero runs the Caldwell and Montclair locations with his fiancé Breanna Brito, leading the shop to a Best of Essex “Best Ice Cream” win in 2017.
Now, he is tirelessly preparing to compete against previous Gelato Festival winners in March, with the hopes of earning the opportunity to represent USA on the world stage in Italy in 2021.
“We really want to be the ones in Italy. We want to make sure that the United States is represented by an [American-born chef],” he said.