We'd like to thank the culinary matchmaker who introduced ice cream to a hot shot of espresso. Affogato is a perfect marriage-a beautiful compromise between hot and cold, bitter and sweet.

We'd like to thank the culinary matchmaker who introduced ice cream to a hot shot of espresso. Affogato is a perfect marriage-a beautiful compromise between hot and cold, bitter and sweet. There's a new texture in every bite of the Italian coffee-dessert mash-up as vanilla ice cream melts and all that remains are a few chilled sips of cappuccino-like espresso. That any chef or coffee shop could improve upon this already delightful pairing, well, we didn't believe it until we tasted it.

Rigsby's Kitchen

Years ago, chef Kent Rigsby read an article that praised pouring scotch over vanilla ice cream. Intrigued, he started serving his own variation, with vanilla ice cream and shaved espresso beans as a garnish. "My father liked it so much we christened it Da's Favorite Affogato," he says. This liquored-up version featuring his dad's favorite whisky-Famous Grouse-has been on and off the Short North eatery's menu for more than 15 years. It's recently fallen off the dessert list, but Rigsby assures it'll reappear once the weather warms. rigsbyskitchen.com

Fox in the Snow Cafe

When Jeff Excell came to Columbus from Brooklyn to scout locations for this coffee shop and cafe, he couldn't believe Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams wasn't all over dessert menus around town. "Everywhere else in the U.S. has it. It was a missed opportunity," he says. With Jeni's now in his backyard, offering an affogato was nonnegotiable at Fox in the Snow in Italian Village, where they pour two shots of espresso over a generous scoop of Jeni's Salty Caramel in a cappuccino cup. "The salt in the ice cream really plays well with the espresso," Excell says. "It's the best affogato I've ever had." facebook.com/foxinthesnowcafe

Coppa Gelato

The drowned dessert ($6.50) is the most customizable at Coppa Gelato in Westerville. Here, customers can choose any house-made gelato flavor they want to star in this dish. Owner Linda Warns-Davis loves their Salty Caramel, but we're partial to Maple Praline for a sweet and nutty (and a little crunchy) treat. Two shots of an espresso blend from Silverbridge Coffee are poured over two scoops of gelato and served immediately. "You serve it within 10 seconds; that is the key," Warns-Davis says. coppagelato.com