As cosmopolitan as I am, I had never heard of gelato until one hot afternoon 15 years ago when I sampled some of the most divine ice cream imaginable in front of a little shop on the Corso in Rome. Needless to say, it made an impression.
So, I was delighted to run across MooCho Gelato Cafe -- in the heart of Perry Hall, of all places. Not only is the homemade gelato delicious, the soups, sandwiches and salads offered there were also solid. Thanks to its competent service and reasonable prices, I can fully recommend MooCho.
The cafe, which has been open for eight months, is located in the Perry Hall MarketPlace, a few miles north of the Beltway on Belair Road. Near the door, naturally enough, sits the gelato display case, an impressive array of two dozen flavors that are said to be made fresh each day.
The rather limited menu has Italian and American offerings.
The yummy tomato and mozzarella panini, or sandwich, ($3.95) included cheese, sliced Roma tomatoes and a zesty pesto sauce, and came on thick bread that had been grilled in oil. A chicken salad sandwich ($4.95) also came grilled. While it didn't break any new ground in the long history of chicken salad, it worked well.
MooCho offered two soup specials, both $2.95. Clam chowder was on the thick side, but had a nice taste of celery and clam. A tomato-based vegetable soup was hearty and peppery and a winner.
A Caesar salad with grilled chicken ($5.75) featured fresh lettuce and shredded parmesan, with a tangy dressing.
MooCho has all sorts of pies and pastries, as well as the gelato. I tried chocolate gelato, which was wonderfully grainy and packed a powerful punch. A piece of peanut-butter pie ($2.50) was a sinful pile of chocolate and peanut flavors.
MooCho Gelato Cafe
Service: *** 1/2
Waiting area: ***
Where: 9639 Belair Road, Perry Hall
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Prices: Soups, sandwiches and salads, $2.95 to $4.95; gelato and gelato treats, $1.75 to $6.95; credit cards accepted