When you enter Affogato, the new café tucked on Khar’s 17th Road, you’ll feel the Italian coffee-based dessert’s presence everywhere. Here, the wide steps that lead to the cave-like subterranean space, the concrete flooring, the gently curved walls that resemble undulating waves of gelato, the cute tables, and even the serving station are done up in the shade of affogato—the result you get when a creamy white scoop of gelato melts into a shot of hot espresso.
Affogato al caffe, or affogato as it’s popularly known, is, at its simplest, the coming together of two beloved treats, an apt metaphor for the collaboration behind the café. Suren Joshi, the restaurateur behind chic Mumbai establishments like Joshi House, Javaphile, and The Conservatory, has joined hands with Shalini Rattan who runs Crèmeyum Creamery, an artisanal gelato brand, for Affogato. “I tried the gelato Shalini makes—it was not only extremely delicious but healthy, too. I immediately knew we had to partner up for something exciting,” he explains.
It would be remiss to not start with an affogato, so that’s what we go for first—a salted caramel globe of gelato comes doused in espresso—a flavour combination Rattan claims to be her favourite. The toffee-flavoured gelato is so smooth that it immediately melts in the mouth and the coffee adds just the right amount of bitterness to balance the sweetness. We polish it off before the next dish can hit the table. You can try it with other variants as well—choose from Madagascar vanilla, Belgian chocolate, or even mango and passionfruit sorbet for a tropical twist.
Of course, affogato is not the only thing on the menu—the two individual components of the dessert get their own chance to shine in the spotlight, along with a selection of viennoiserie, cakes, and cookies.
Gelato—the star of the show
Gelato, the low-fat, lighter counterpart of ice cream, has risen in popularity with Mumbai’s residents in the past few years, with multiple new gelato bars cropping up in the city catering to the demand. So it’s not a surprise that at Affogato, too, the frozen Italian treat finds itself taking centre stage. Rattan helms the production, making sure each scoop is made using traditional methods and ingredients. A certified gelatiere who has studied from the renowned Carpigiani Gelato University, she got into gelato-making on a whim, during a trip to Italy in 2013. But it was only during the pandemic, when most rekindled their hobbies, that the long-time CSR professional got into making gelato full-time.
According to her, great gelato comes down to ingredients and technique. That’s why you’ll find Madagascan vanilla, South American blueberries, and Sicilian pistachios among fresh local produce in Affogato’s scoops. The 'no-added sugar' variants are made using imported sugar alcohols that are naturally-occurring sweeteners. There are sorbets too—bright fruit-based desserts made with only fruit pulp and water. We try the magenta jamun sorbet, best had with a sprinkle of sea salt, and the Ratnagiri mango sorbet. Both are impossibly creamy and light, with nary an icicle in sight.
Wash down your sweet treats with a cup (or two) of coffee
The coffee programme is nearly identical to the one at Javaphile, from classics like lattes, espresso, and cortados to signatures like the sea salt mocha and java brew shot.
Dig into gelato-stuffed croissants, traditional Italian biscotti, cloud-like lemon cake, and more
The bakery menu has been curated by chef Jasirah Dalvi, who has closely worked with Italian cuisine for the past eight years, and Faryaz Engineer, who’s an experienced pâtisser and boulanger with a knack for global desserts. While Javaphile regulars will spot their go-to drinks and some familiar desserts on the menu, most of the patisserie offerings developed by Dalvi and Engineer are unique to Affogato—like the cantucci (Italian biscotti) or the laminated cinnamon 'roll' that comes in the shape of a flat swirl instead of the usual domed cream-cheese frosted roll, and is served as is—letting the croissant dough it’s made with get all the attention. It’s flaky, it’s soft, and it's the perfect vehicle for a scoop of your favourite gelato. In fact, most of the ‘bakes’ section can be paired with the frozen treat—from the classic French butter croissant, which is halved and stuffed generously with gelato of your choice, to the soft walnut-studded carrot cake. We tried a croissant filled with strawberry cheesecake gelato and finished with pistachios, almonds, and raspberry sauce.
To take the mix-and-match concept to another level, there is a dedicated toppings bar, too, where you can pick from an all-natural line-up of chopped and slivered nuts, dehydrated fruits, decadent praline pastes, and compotes and crumbles. Customise your sundae with one or more of these—add a drizzle of compote to your Belgian chocolate gelato or sprinkle crunchy almonds on a scoop of blueberry yogurt gelato. Despite all these additions, the sweet treats are light, simple, and straightforward—something which Dalvi says was intentional. “We wanted a soft and light menu, that is why we have viennoiserie and cookies, and not something heavy that would overpower the gelato or the coffee,” she explains.
Simplicity lies at the heart of the café
It’s not just the menu—every element at Affogato is understated. Joshi elaborates, “It’s pretty simple—there is nothing too complicated about it. It’s about two good products that have come together. That’s it. We didn’t want to do anything overly fancy.”
Minimalism is the cornerstone of the place—while the aesthetic can sometimes be mistaken for being stark or cold, Affogato is anything but. As you walk by, the cosy, fawn-hued interiors call out to you, and are a beacon of warmth on a grey, rainy day, promising a hot cup of coffee (or cold options for iced coffee enthusiasts) and good ol’ gelato that will melt your heart. The warm monotone also makes sure all eyes are on the food offerings. The designer duo behind the space—Kasturi Wagh and Vineet Hingorani of kaviar:collaborative, wanted it to feel like an art gallery, where the art in question are the rows of vibrant gelato, the elaborate coffee station, and the baked goods—all presented on cream-coloured stone blocks.
So, the next time you’re in the neighbourhood and have a hankering for no-frills-attached gelato or coffee, drop by at Affogato and get to have the best of both worlds, in a space that feels like you’re being enveloped into a hug.