Major Flavor at Westerville's Coppa Gelato

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Five years ago, Linda Warns-Davis was on vacation with her husband in Saugatuck, Mich., when they stopped into a gelateria. Here, she had her first taste of creamy chocolate gelato, and she was hooked. Warns-Davis spent a year studying the craft under two chefs (one from Bologna, Italy, the other in Seattle, Wash.), took classes at Penn State (the same program that boasts grads like Jeni Britton Bauer) and, last July, opened Coppa Gelato in Westerville. The quaint and airy shop has been buzzing ever since with customers lining up to try 16 rotating flavors of gelato and sorbetto made fresh daily, pastries like cannoli, crafted by her pastry chef daughter, and coffee from local roaster Silver Bridge Coffee. "Everybody that comes in has a smile," she says. "I think that's why I love what I do."

On gelato v. ice cream

When I researched the calories in gelato versus ice cream (there are fewer in gelato) and the carb count and the fat content (also lower in gelato), I was hooked. There are so many people looking for the healthier way to indulge. Why not have twice as much?

On new flavors

I introduced maple bacon last week, and it sold out within about two hours. We have a comment card we set up by the cash register; whenever a customer has a new flavor they'd like to me to try, I put it up on the board in the back and start experimenting. [This one] tastes like pancakes with maple syrup and tiny bits of bacon.

On her favorite

Pistachio is still my No. 1. (Coppa Gelato's is made with Sicilian pistachios and no artificial flavoring.) I've had a few that they've come close-coconut almond fudge and tiramisu.

On the winter rush

When we had that bad winter storm we were still out the door. Customers told me they come in because they love the freshness of our gelato.

On family tradition

I learned how to bake from my grandmother (who is Czech) and my mother; and then I passed it along to my daughters. [My favorite to bake] is my grandmother's cookie; her cookie was out of this world. It's nut-filled and there are different fruit fillings. Her dough, I have never tasted anything like it; it's flaky, but a little sweet.

On her mantra

My father was always my go-to for advice. He'd say, you can do and you can be whatever you want to be as long as you give it your all. That's what I've always done. And my daughters are like that, and I love seeing it. They're not afraid to try anything.

On what to expect at Coppa

I promise you won't be disappointed. I promise freshness as far as the product. And as far as service, you can have as many samples as you like.