Why does the gelato taste so creamy?

Q: I just had some great coconut gelato at Paciugo at 3241 N. Broadway St. at Melrose. I really like it better than ice cream — it tastes creamier and more savory to me. Yet there's an inscription on the side of the cup that says "70% less fat than ice cream. So have another!" How is that possible if it tastes creamier and more delicious than ice cream? I went to their website, paciugo.com, but other than saying they use whole milk instead of cream, I can't figure it out. Can you even make ice cream from just whole milk?

—Rob Conrad, Chicago

A: Yes, you can make "ice cream" from whole milk. Sold as "ice milk," it can have a lighter creamier texture than regular ice cream, according to "The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion."

But the gelato you like is not like that at all. The "Companion" notes gelato, in general, doesn't contain as much air as American ice cream so it has a denser texture. So, there's one major reason.

I posed your question to Ugo Ginatta, co-founder of Paciugo (pronounced pah-CHOO-go), at the company's Dallas headquarters. He credits the "superior creaminess" of his gelato to three factors: Each Paciugo location in 12 states makes its gelato on-site daily so the product is fresh; the gelato is served at a warmer temperature than usual for ice cream to enhance the creaminess and flavor; and since milk has less fat than butter or cream, the gelato flavors can shine more brightly.

Too much chill and fat means "you'd just feel cold and sweet," the Italian-born Ginatta says. "We keep the temperature where you can discern the fabulous chocolate or pistachio."

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611.

Twitter: @billdaley

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