The Food Biz: Fresh starts

Two new businesses bring gelato, sushi to Edgehill Village's retail row

Legato Gelato, a new spot serving gelato (Italian-style ice cream) made from scratch with local milk and other fresh ingredients, opened 10 days ago in a cheerful storefront on Villa Place in Edgehill Village.

Terri-Ann Nicholls is the energetic entrepreneur behind the business, which she opened with her husband Berchaun Nicholls, who also has a full-time job as an ER physician at Centennial Medical Center.

Born in Jamaica, Terri-Ann Nicholls said she’s been obsessed with ice cream her entire life. A favorite family outing was to the legendary ice cream shop at historic Devon House in Kingston.

Her family eventually moved to New York, where she developed a childhood crush on Carvel ice cream cakes. After college at Fordham University, she took a trip to Italy, where she discovered gelato.

“I said, ‘This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for all my life,’ ” she recalled, laughing.

Later she worked in finance in New York, where she met her husband while hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment. (A friend asked to bring along a young medical resident who didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday. Destiny.)

Eventually the couple (pictured here) moved to Nashville, Berchaun Nicholls’ hometown. (He attended Brentwood High School, Sewanee and Meharry Medical College.) They live not far from the shop.

For the past two years, the couple has been working to open Legato Gelato, with Terri-Ann in the lead. She said she uses local ingredients whenever she can, like the Gammon family’s Tennessee Real Milk from Orlinda, Tenn.

Other ingredients, like hazelnuts and pistachios, she imports from Italy. (In fact, Sicilian pistachio and hazelnut are two signature flavors, along with chocolate.)

And she’s a big fan of local Tru Bee honey from Franklin, which she sells in the store. A recent daily special was gelato spiked with honey and yogurt.

“With gelato, it’s all about the flavors,” she said. Proponents of gelato versus ice cream say that because gelato is made with milk instead of cream, the dairy taste doesn’t mask the flavors you add to it — for example, ripe organic strawberries.

The shop also sells sorbetto (also known as sorbet) made from fresh seasonal fruit, and baked treats from Dozens, and there are more additions to come. Terri-Ann said she’s working to develop an ice cream and cupcake product, teaming up with Cupcake Collection in Germantown. For updates and daily flavors, follow Legato Gelato on Facebook and Twitter.

Legato Gelato is located at 1200 Villa Place, Suite 113, in the Edgehill Village retail development. The phone number is 530-3190.


Thrilla with Nomzilla

Edgehill Village is having a great month, with a second food purveyor opening the same day as Legato Gelato (we like saying that — it just rolls off the tongue). Almost directly across the street from Legato is a cute little cafe and takeout spot called Nomzilla! Sushi.

It’s the project of another young entrepreneur, Thet H. Tint. A native of Myanmar, Tint came to Nashville to study biology at Vanderbilt. Eventually he took up a career as a registered nurse, but he always kept his eye on the fresh sushi business. His mother had a franchise making the sushi at Kroger in Mt. Juliet, and the son figured he could open his own business and put a new creative spin on the sushi concept.

Tint dreamed up the name “Nomzilla” based on a couple of his favorite pop culture references. “Nom” comes from the phrase “nom nom nom” used to indicate yummy food enjoyment in Internet humor. The “zilla” is a tribute to a certain famous monster from old Japanese movies.

And speaking of bowls: One of the twists at Nomzilla is you can get your sushi not just in the familiar form of rolls and nigiri, but also with the fish and/or veggies served in a bowl atop sushi rice.

The ingredients are a small but carefully selected list, chosen for flavor and balance and with an eye to being a little different.

You can get top sushi sellers like tuna and salmon, but you can also choose ingredients like fresh pineapple, asparagus and even roasted duck with barbecue sauce. The menu changes frequently based on the best products available.

Tint has really spruced up the space, painting the walls a happy orange and green. There are only a few tables and a small counter overlooking Villa Place, but Tint anticipates plenty of takeout business from neighbors and workers from Vanderbilt, Belmont and Music Row.

Nomzilla! Sushi et Cetera is located at 1201 Villa Place, Suite 101. The phone number is 268-1424.