Photos by Collin Richie.

City Gelato’s dairy-free sorbets are crafted with Louisiana fruit

Ten years ago, Mario Lozanov turned a lemon into lemonade—actually, make that lemon sorbet.

The former Albemarle Corporation chemist was laid off, but instead of returning to a job in manufacturing, he rolled the dice on a passion project: making small-batch gelato and sorbet. Armed with recipes he’d developed at home through trial and error, Lozanov signed on as a tenant at the LSU AgCenter Food Innovation Institute (FOODii), where he refined his fledgling company and began producing artisan frozen treats.

Today, Lozanov’s City Gelato makes more than 11 metric tons of gelato and sorbet annually, which he sells in local and specialty grocery stores and direct to consumers at regional events and gatherings like birthdays and weddings. Lines of customers queue at the Red Stick Farmers Market’s locations each week, eager to try his seasonal flavors.

His well-known gelato, also sold at a handful of area restaurants, comes in a long list of flavors including Strawberry, Chocolate, Cookie Dough, Coffee, Chocolate Chip, Italian Cream Cheese, Amaretto, Salted Caramel and others.

The small business concocts fresh fruit sorbets, too. Lozanov says the dairy-free alternative is formulated with local produce.

“Pretty much any fruit that grows in Louisiana,” he adds. “There are a lot to choose from.”

Indeed, the state’s generous agricultural bounty gives Lozanov plenty of raw materials. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, figs, watermelon, cantaloupe, lemons and satsumas have all been deployed in Lozanov’s sorbets. In many cases, he buys directly from local farmers. One of the few regional fruits he hasn’t used are kumquats, simply because of their meager juice content, he says.

Smooth, packed with flavor and creamy-without-the-cream, the sorbets make an excellent dessert served alone or blinged with toppings. The jaw-jarring Meyer Lemon flavor jibes well with blueberries, and Strawberry sings with fresh basil and chocolate sauce. And while it’s not a local fruit, City Gelato’s Mango sorbet is delicious on its own or sprinkled with coconut and almonds.

Unlike gelato, prepared with milk and cream, City Gelato’s sorbets are crafted almost exclusively with fresh fruit, water and sugar. Lozanov adjusts the sweetness depending on the acidity of the fruit.

Lozanov says he got into the frozen dessert business not to get rich (although that would be nice), but to make something extraordinary with all-natural ingredients.

“It’s a premium product,” he says.

Top that!

Make a sorbet sundae …

• Decorated with fruits, herbs, edible flowers, cookies or toffee

• Dusted with Tajín, sea salt or coconut flakes

• Drizzled with artisanal fudge, caramel, olive oil or balsamic vinegar

• Dotted with specialty sprinkles, like River Road Sprinkle Co.’s pearly beads; Supernatural’s dye-free, kid-friendly shapes; or Fancy Sprinkles’ glittery varieties, all sourced from CounterspaceBR.

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of 225 magazine.