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Riverfront Profile with Anthony LuPriore of Frati Gelato Café

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Anthony LuPriore
Gelato Master/Owner, Frati Gelato Café

Anthony LuPriore has taken a long and unusual road to becoming the gelato master that he is today. He worked as a butcher and a zoologist, studied Italian in a monastery in Italy, became a doctor and then a chef, before earning his gelato-making credentials in his sixties.

Born in Rhode Island, Anthony had an early introduction to food production. He worked at a neighborhood butcher shop from the age of eight into his twenties, but his real cooking education was from his mother who was famous in her hometown for her cooking. In his teens he worked in the kitchen at his uncle’s inn in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. But even though food played a major role in his formative years, Anthony was more drawn to science.

After getting a degree in zoology from the University of Rhode Island, Anthony decided he wanted to be a doctor. He applied to the University of Perugia, was accepted and at the age of 28, moved to Perugia, the capital of Umbria, Italy. One small hurdle had to be overcome—Anthony didn’t speak Italian, so he lived in a monastery with the Franciscan Monks for six months to learn Italian. Only then could he attend the medical classes, which were all conducted in Italian.
Anthony became a doctor of vascular medicine, and practiced medicine for 18 years in Perugia. Eventually, he yearned for the world of food again, and he and some friends opened a restaurant called Casa Lugol, where he took on the role of executive chef. Anthony ran the restaurant for seven years, perfecting the local cuisine. But after 25 years in Italy, he longed to be closer to his family in the U.S. He decided to return home, but first he looked for a way to take a piece of Italy with him.

A local gelato shop inspired Anthony to learn another new trade. He applied to the only government accredited gelato school in Italy, Academia de Gelato. Under the supervision of Luca Caviezel, the man responsible for perfecting the gelato process in the late 1960s, Anthony studied the intricacies of gelato, and discovered that science was responsible for creating its incredibly smooth texture and deeply rich flavors.

After learning the delicate art of balancing recipes based on complicated equations, Anthony graduated with the elite title of “Gelato Master.” With his new credentials in hand, he left Tuscany and moved to California, opening gelato shops first in Fullerton and more recently in Napa, where he could demonstrate his expertise in making Italian ice cream.

Anthony sought suppliers who would ship him products from specific regions in Italy, as well as from around the world. His vanilla comes from Madagascar and Tahiti, his chocolate from Belgium, and his fresh fruit is local — some of it from loyal patrons who own fruit trees. Even the machines that churn the gelato were imported from Italy.

Anthony and his business partner and brother-in-law, Ronald Delay, closed their Fullerton shop in February 2012 and opened Frati Gelato Café on Napa’s Riverfront in September 2012. The artisan gelato is handcrafted by Anthony every day—he has made hundreds of different flavors—so you’ll rarely see the same combination of flavors in the case on any given day.

In addition to gelato, the café serves authentic cappuccino and espresso, small rustic Italian dishes, panini and select sweet wines. Frati Gelato is the perfect quick stop for lunch or after any meal or event. Frati Gelato also caters and is available for every kind of party, from weddings, Christmas parties, birthdays, showers and corporate events to pool parties, graduations, bar and bat mitzvahs, retirement parties and other special occasions. For all of them, gelato is just what the doctor ordered!

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