I love gelato so much that I'm usually a purist—I don't often order it blended into shakes because the flavor and texture is so satisfying unadulterated. But a visit to the Wauwatosa, Wisconsin branch of Paciugo, a gelato cafe chain, made a convert out of me. There, I tried two of the lightest, most refreshing shakes I've ever had.
The secret? They blend gelato with San Pellegrino sparkling water and flavored sodas. It's genius, honestly. It makes for a light, slightly effervescent frozen drink, perfect for summer. The Arancia Frizzante is panna cotta-flavored gelato mixed with San Pellegrino's orange soda. I've always loved the soda, so this was an obvious choice, and I was not disappointed. I expected the lightly-flavored orange soda to be overpowered by the gelato, but the orange flavor was front and center. This concoction was tangy and creamy and beat every other dreamsicle shake I've had.
The other shake was a combination I improvised: wild berry sorbet and meringue gelato blended with sparkling water. Since there was less dairy involved, the shake was airy and refreshing, a bit like a drinkable sorbet. The base was intensely berry-flavored (and full of seeds.) Whether you choose your own combination of flavors or go with one of the house specialties, it's hard to go wrong with a sparkling shake.