Mozzafiato Gelato & Coffee bringing the flavors of Italy to Elgin

  • Mozzafiato Gelato & Coffee owners Chris and Chrisi Perri, sit on one of the vintage Vespa stools, another piece that reminds them of there trip to Italy.

    Mozzafiato Gelato & Coffee owners Chris and Chrisi Perri, sit on one of the vintage Vespa stools, another piece that reminds them of there trip to Italy. Courtesy of Christopher Perri

Submitted by Chrisi Perri
Updated 11/16/2020 5:15 PM

Opening Mozzafiato Gelato & Coffee at the start of a pandemic is a story with a surprisingly sweet ending.

In 2018, Mozzafiato Gelato owners Chris and Chrisi Perri, along with their family were spending Christmas in Piazza Navona, not far from Rome, Italy. For Chris, it was his first time being able to connect with his Italian roots and to visit family. Not family by blood but family by bond. You see, four years earlier the Perri's had hosted an exchange student from Italy and that experience has bonded both families for life.


The Christmas holiday has a different energy when experienced in Rome. The lights are up, shops are bustling, and the town of Piazza Navona is transformed into a Christmas market with a focus on family. This priority of family is one that the Perri's have taken to heart and reconnected with.

Back home in Elgin, an opportunity opened up to purchase an ice cream shop and Chris and Chrisi jumped at the chance. While the interior of their new shop has details that remain from the original ice cream shop, the biggest change is to the menu. Mozzafiato Gelato (Mozzafiato is an Italian word meaning "breathtaking") churns out authentic Italian gelato in small batches, along with serving craft coffee roasted in the Italian style.

Their gelato and small batch desserts take on the traditional flavors the Perri's found during their time in Italy.

Why is it important to serve delicious high quality and authentic desserts? They do it because of the smiles that light up when people take a taste of their gelato and because the kids get so excited and happy when we glitter up their scoop.

The latter reason is the most important to the Perri's: Bambini are the centerpiece and treasure of a family unit in Italy and they saw first hand how the Italians have an abundance of love and patience for the children in their country.

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Opening a new business during a time when Illinois was ordered to lockdown because of the pandemic brought challenges Chris and Chrisi never saw coming: they literally signed the closing papers on the business the day before the lockdown! It meant not having the grand opening they had hoped for, but it also meant supply chains were cut, equipment deliveries were taking longer and because Mozzafiato Gelato was a new business it didn't qualify for any government assistance grants.

But they fought through it thanks to family: Chris' sister manages the shop and their daughter is learning first hand how to use creativity and business management to increase sales. Mozzafiato Gelato started with delivery and pints was a way to get our product out. When summer came the shop was able to welcome people inside and it felt like the vibe completely changed. Word is getting out and the popularity of the creamy treat Mozzafiato Gelato makes is growing every day.

Now that the holidays have arrived Chris and Chrisi are remembering their Christmas in Italy and how this time of year is filled with hope and beauty. They want to recreate a little of what they saw in Piazza Navona and hope to expand it year after year. The staff all take part in decorating the shop: it will include pieces from Department 56 and Playmobil that create scenes of all the magic of the hope during the holidays. Trains crisscross the display to add even more delight.

Mozzafiato Gelato is open during the holidays and are hoping kids to come in while they wait for their takeout orders. The children will be able to feel the same magic and wonder inside the shop as the Perri family did in Italy a few years ago. You can visit Mozzafiato Gelato & Coffee at 3145 Route 20, near Nesler Road on Elgin's far west side or online at

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