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Columbia Falls man’s passion for gelato spawns a new small business

Hungry Horse News | July 31, 2022 12:00 AM

In a world that sometimes seems upside down and sideways, David Restivo just wants to make people happy, at least for a little while.

Restivo has his own way of finding solace. He makes gelato, the Italian frozen dessert that uses more whole milk than cream. He and his wife Katrina fell in love with the dessert when visiting Sicily on vacation. Restivo can trace his lineage back to the island, where his great- grandfather Domenico Restivo lived.

After a dark time in his life at a former job, he decided to start making gelato and sorbettos at his home in homage to his heritage.

He took classes online and even went to school in North Carolina to learn the craft.

Restivo has no ordinary kitchen. When he built his home in Columbia Falls he also added a health department approved commercial kitchen.

While making the dessert is a part-time gig, it’s a full-time passion for Restivo and he takes it very seriously. In his full-time job, he manages the, the National Park Service’s nationwide website.

Restivo has always had a creative vein. When he worked for Glacier National Park years ago he designed the wrap on the shuttle buses, which is still used today. For the Park’s centennial in 2010, he designed a commemorative Pendleton blanket.

The passion for gelato is an extension of that creativity, but one that titillates the palette.

He recently purchased a gelato cart, a refrigerated pedal-powered novelty he had shipped from Sicily. He spends all day Saturdays making gelatos and sorbettos in his home kitchen and then sells them from his cart at the Sunday Market in Columbia Falls.

He’s also done a few weddings.

Eventually he’d like to have a gelato truck as well. In the past seven years or so he’s found two vintage milk trucks, the sort that his grandfather in Albion, New York used to drive years ago when he delivered fresh milk to homes.

Both trucks were in eastern Montana and will need a lot of work. He’s also restoring a Vespa motorcycle to match the gelato cart.

His favorite recipe?

A huckleberry-basil sorbetto.

“It’s a fusion of Montana and Sicily,” he said.

Restivo has invested thousands on his venture, yet he keeps a broad smile on his face.

“When has anyone ever been unhappy eating ice cream?” he said.

To contact Restivo visit his website at

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