Strolling down Fouad Street in Alexandria, just before reaching the intersection with Safiyah Zaghloul Street, it is easy to notice the many new restaurants and cafes that have sprung up side-by-side over the past three years.
Fresco is perhaps one of the first of these places – it is already three years since this cozy and inviting gelato bar opened at the heart of the once cosmopolitan part of Alexandria.
Fresco has a large diversity of sweets – mostly chocolate and ice cream-based--to offer. Its super rich chocolate shakes are certainly both smooth and filling.
However, the name Fresco, many Alexandrians would agree, is best associated with a large diversity of Italian gelato – lots of fruit flavours and no cream at all.
“We have 50 flavours to offer and over 30 of these are cream-free, because we essentially do the Italian recipe,” said Yasser, an attendant at Fresco’s second bar, which is one year old, and located at the entrance of Kafr Abdou district.
These flavours are not available all the time, partially because the flavours are related to seasonal fruits and partially because the gelato display bar, especially at the smaller but certainly very inviting branch of Kar Abdou, would not accommodate 50 flavours all at once.
At the Kafr Abdou branch, but not at Fouad Street, attendants are more than willing to offer the first-time visitor endless tasting samples on small and super colourful plastic spoons. They also specify the way each flavour is made.
“For example the green apple is cream-free but it has full cream milk – so if you are observing a Coptic fast or you are following a dairy-free diet for any reason than this is not your best choice,” Yasser would say with a smile.
Particularly pleasant, refreshing and typical of the season – and untypical of most other ice cream places – are the Egyptian summer grapes and the prickly pear, or figue de barbarie, as noted in French on the little tag. Despite the seeds that one needs a handy tissue to manage, they are good and not at all heavy.
For those who are into the “in flavour” of red velvet and the “post-in” flavour of blue velvet, Fresco is also a recommended destination.
At the Kafr Abdou branch clients get their gelato, for LE15 per scoop, either in a paper cup or on top of a cone – and there are red-velvet flavoured cons for the fans of the trendy.
At the branch on Fouad Street, there is also the option of having your caramel and chocolate ice cream on top of warm waffles.
If you are accompanied by someone who does not care very much for gelato then they will also be able to choose from the other inviting desserts, including the homemade chocolate sticks. The shop also provides its own take-home gelato cakes.
Italian coffee is available if you are one of those who cannot manage an ice cream without an espresso to follow.