Papalani Gelato

If you’re looking for an alternative to ice cream that’s just as tasty and has less fat, you should visit Papalani Gelato in Poipu or Lihue, and sample its wide selection of gelato and sorbetto, aka sorbet.

Owner of Papalani Gelato, Marck Shipley, has been in the gelato business for 10 years. A former high-tech executive, Shipley changed careers and has never looked back.

“I learned (to make gelato) by contacting people who have been making gelato for years, who have extensive family history with gelato in Italy,” Shipley said. “Gelato is Italian-style ice cream. The earliest reference to gelato was about in the 13th or 14th century. When it started, it was pre-Industrial Age, so everything was (made) by hand.”

Shipley said the tradition of gelato from its inception has always been “the idea of making things fresh every day, making things by hand and minimizing the ingredients.”

“Italian food is simple ingredients executed flawlessly and presented beautifully,” Shipley said. “That’s what we do with our gelato: we minimize the ingredients we use, it’s all natural, we have our own exclusive recipes, so everything we do, we do from scratch.”

Shipley said a lack of air in gelato is what separates it from ice cream. Ice cream uses more cream than gelato. Because of that, its fat content is higher than gelato.

“When air freezes, it turns to ice,” Shipley said. “With gelato, because we don’t put a lot of air in it, we don’t have to do a whole lot to keep it creamy (adding extra cream), so our fat content is lower than ice cream. Even though it’s not a low-fat food, compared it to ice cream, you’re going to see up to a 60 percent difference of fat.”

The end result is a better flavor than ice cream, plus a silkier, denser and creamier texture.

Sorbetto is another delight on the menu. Sorbetto (more commonly known as sorbet) is dairy free and fat free.

“The flavors explode right on the palette,” Shipley said. “The menu really reflects Hawaii. We do POG, haupia, kulolo. We really try to make our menu be reflective of what you find here naturally in the tropics. We even do lychee, mango, lilikoi, pineapple li hing mui, star apple and jackfruits.”

Papalani Gelato uses a lot of locally-sourced fruits and high-quality ingredients and keeps everything fresh.

“We buy as much as we can as close to our store,” Shipley said, “We do a lot of purchasing of fruits and nuts from the island. If there is an option to get ingredients from the island, we’ll do that 99 percent of the time. We go to farmers’ markets and we have relationships with a number of local farmers.”

When you visit the store, you’ll notice all the items are from Hawaii.

“We work with Nanea Chocolate Company, Kauai Chocolate Company, Hula Baby, Kauai Goodies and Kauai Nut Roasters,” Shipley said. “At our Anchor Cove location, we have a pastry case and all of our pastries are made by Passion Bakery.”

Papalani Gelato, located at 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Road in Poipu, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The store in Lihue, located at 3366 Waapa Road Suite 500 in Anchor Cove, is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Call 742-2663 and visit for more information.


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