I don't even remember having this good a gelato in Firenze.
Admittedly, that was more than a decade ago, and my palate wasn't developed in even the most remote sense, so comparing it might be meaningless. But, this I know for sure: Bono makes the best gelato I have ever tasted in my whole adulthood memory, and granted I haven't tried every single one in the country, I've still had my share.
It was a surprise to find out Bono's location---SM Makati---considering the premium products they're selling. One would usually assume such artisanal shops to be located in the likes of Greenbelt, Rockwell, Shangri-La or some similar uncrowded mall catering to the A and B market. Maybe I'm just bitter 'coz it didn't open somewhere near to my place like Alabang Town Center. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.
Anyway, I got a chance to get a grand tour of the place. Yes, grand, not because the place was huge, but because the equipment and the ingredients were fit for royalty. The first thing that caught my eye when I arrived was this cool infographic mural that pretty much summed up what Bono was all about.
Apparently, one of the most important things that sets Bono apart from its competitors was the fact that it only uses the finest fresh ingredients. No artificial flavorings and colorings, no preservatives; not now, not ever. Such a strict maintenance of quality is the reason why their gelatos are never more than 12-20 hours old. Hence, they have these daily day-end discounts to get rid of the few remaining ones, and boy, do they get rid of them fast! People just love their gelatos, and with good reason.
Aside from that, they use a gelato machine called Cattabriga EFFE, which is supposedly the Rolls Royce of gelato machines. Only 2 exist in the country, and both of them are in this very store. The owners, in fact, have studied at a gelato university (I didn't believe there was such a thing the first time I heard it, either) in Bologna, Italy, so they could learn how create it in the true Italian way.
You'll also notice that unlike other gelaterias wherein colorful mountains of gelatos are displayed for all the world to see, Bono uses what they call Pozzetto cabinets to store their gelato. A stainless lid covers each container, and at first glance, you wouldn't even see the gelato itself even when uncovered, unless you're tall. Peering inside, one can see that the frozen goodness is buried deep to preserve the temperature, and to decrease air and light contamination, which might compromise its quality.
There was some freshly churned Stracciatella (see cover photo) that afternoon, and one bite immediately sent me to a euphoric state. I've tasted silky ice cream/gelato, but never this silky. It was so velvety smooth, it was the ultimate embodiment of the term "melt-in-your-mouth". The chocolate shavings provided some nice minimal texture to it.
This was a great prelude of more good things to come, so let's start the show...
Usually, vanilla is the plainest of flavors, albeit not necessarily in terms of taste. It does have a large following nonetheless, and I'm pretty sure fans will love Bono's Vaniglia version because this one is impregnated with Tahitian vanilla beans. Try rolling of a scoop in between your tongue and palate, and you will feel them. Lovely!
Pistachio flavors in any food, whether it be ice cream, cake, etc., has this unique and vibrant green color that is lacking in Bono's Pistacchio. Why? Because this one is made up of the real thing and none of those food colorings, thereby creating a much pallid tint. But hey, I'd go for substance over color anytime. And with the abundance of pistachios in every scoop, this is definitely a winner in my book.
I'm not so fond of the Cereal and Milk simply because I don't like the taste of crushed or nearly soggy cereals. It's a personal thing, and I know many others who love this one.
Malted Milk has this rich dried milk peppered with crushed Maltesers. It definitely has a sweet note, but not overly so, and has great texture from the famous chocolate and malt spheres.
The Fragola is actually made up of real California strawberries. Don't expect something sweet as this has the legitimate tart taste of the aforementioned fruit.
Eating the Lavande is like literally eating some Lavender flowers. If I were to eat them, this is exactly how I envisioned it to taste like. The experience was something else, and with the flavor so intriguing, I found myself vying for another spoonful every minute or so.
This is probably my least favorite since I don't like plain chocolates or fudge, and I don't have any proclivity for brownies. However, if you do, you'll probably go for this Brownie Fudge, especially since it has lots of brownie bits.
Another very toothsome variant is the Coffee Honeycomb. It has a pronounced coffee taste (at this point, I wasn't expecting anything less), laced with sporadic chocolate-covered coffee crunch bits for a nice tincture of sweetness.
You have tasted ube halaya, right? In halo-halo (not the ice cream) or probably plain partnered with macapuno. Now imagine it cold... Bono's Chunky Ube is exactly that. Grainy yet smooth. Don't even ask, I have no idea how they made it that way. As you are now aware, they inculcate their ingredients with a passion that you just get it real, stripped bare of all pretensions. Bottomline: authentic.
The Movie Night, so far, is my absolute favorite! Isn't the favoritism obvious? You know I have a salty/savory tooth, and the most I can have of anything sweet is if it's married with something salty. So it's a no-brainer that I would fall for this one, which contains chocolate chips, potato chips and caramel. The combination is just so good, it's quite easy to fall in love with it and stay addicted to it.
As much as I love Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter spread, somehow, I just didn't connect with this Speculoos flavor. Even I am not sure why. I keep thinking maybe it was because of the overload of flavors, I really can't tell. I have to try this again soon, at the very least to settle the matter.
I must have said it a thousand times -- I hate pure chocolate anything. That's why I have no idea how this Cioccolato has captured my fancy. It's 70% pure dark chocolate and just has this declaring taste that leaves you wanting more. The bold flavor is so in-your-face, but in a very good way. That's a lot coming from the woman with no sweet tooth.
The Chocolate Peperoncino has the same rich chocolate goodness as the Cioccolato, only this one has a surprising kick. A spicy note kind of knocks you out, but as you recover some split seconds after, it only makes you want to go for more. You can see that this particular gelato has a certain glaze to it. There is an explanation for it, albeit I was too busy eating to really digest that piece of information.
Aside from gelatos, Bono offers sorbetti as well. This is the Coco Lychee Sorbetto, which tastes like real coconuts, so much so that it overpowers whatever lychee flavor that lies within.
The Piña Colada had me thinking of the beach the instant it hit my mouth. There, lying back on a white plastic beach chair overlooking the ocean, hiding from the bright summer sun under a big, colorful beach umbrella. This has alcohol content, obviously, so sorry, not for minors.
Another great flavor is the Chili Tamarind, which has this initial strong, sour taste followed quickly by that nice kick that was frankly quite interesting. It was certainly a delicious interplay of sour and spicy.
By the time we were done tasting all the flavors, I was so full. But if you were to give me another cup, I wouldn't decline. That's how much I loved Bono! As a matter of fact, I had another round of Movie Night. That's how much I loved that flavor!
I think the fact that gelato has a higher temperature than ice cream helps in giving you that full flavor without burning your tongue from the coldness. It actually lets you taste the gelato first before the cold sensation hits your senses.
One more good thing about Bono is how they keep on concocting new flavors. They don't believe in complacency and that's a very good thing. Good news for us gelato lovers. And even bigger news is that they have introductory discount prices for these new flavors for a week. Kudos Bono!
And so, the next time I was in Bono, I went for a double scoop of the Pistacchio and Movie Night (I warned you I love that flavor). Ahhh, bliss!
Another time I was there, I tried one of the new flavors -- Malted Cookie Dough. It was uber creamy with a milky flavor so defined, it made me feel like a kid. I also got to try their Strawberries and Prosecco Sorbetto, which was tart and refreshing, having this hint of alcohol; and the Lemon Basil, which had this zesty coolness to it. I ended up getting a pint of the---yes, you guessed it right---Movie Night. Obviously, a cup was no longer enough for me. (Gasp!) But wait, wait, wait, you'd want to hear this: having a pint doesn't make me feel guilty because their gelato has way less butterfat than ice cream. Ha!
You have to wait for about 15 minutes for them to blast freeze it first, though. Better yet, leave it with them while you shop, then just come back to get it when you're about to go home to preserve the temperature. And did I mention, they also do deliveries. Wheee!
UPDATE: I went again to Bono and tried another new flavor -- Taho! Sooo good! Tasted like the real thing, not at all surprising now that I've become used to Bono's high quality products, but I'm still in awe how they made it such. It had this silken tofu-flavored base and came with the thick sugar syrup of this well-loved Filipino snack. Plus pearls, don't forget the sago pearls. How real can you get??
I also got to taste the Peanut Butter Crunch, which had a robust peanut-y taste.
And yes, I did order another pint of Movie Night. Don't judge! Funny how one of the male crew completed my sentence when I said, "I'd like to order one pint of..."
"Movie Night, Ma'am?" he goes, smiling knowingly. Hahaha!
After Bono, every other gelato in town seemed to distantly fade away, as if in a fairytale wherein finding the true King reveals the hidden real image of the fake one. I mean, where else can you taste gelato with flavors that make you feel like you're eating the actual thing?? You have got to try Bono, you're missing half of your life if you don't. THAT GOOD!!!
Bono Artisanal Gelato
Spot: 2/F SM Makati
Contact No.: 551-0587