Office of the Saratoga Springs City Historian West Side Oral Narrative Collection
Raffaele Grasso started his Italian ice, or gelati, business in Brooklyn in 1921 soon after his arrival from Tufino, Italy. Working in the construction business, he made and sold his lemon and orange delicacies on weekends. In 1924 he moved to Saratoga Springs and following a construction accident, began selling his Italian Ices full time.
He and his wife, Christina, worked six days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with all five children eventually involved in the family store which sold fish, ice cream and gelatto. The family lived above the store.
Initially, Grasso pulled a wagon through the streets of Saratoga selling his gelati. He purchased his first truck in 1938; his second truck, a 1954 Metro International is still a welcome sight for Saratogians and visitors today. And while cherry is the favorite flavor for kids, adults prefer the hand-squeezed lemon.
Ralph, Jr. shares his memories of growing up in Saratoga and what the gelatti business meant for both he and his father.