When things turned bad for Janine Bruno, she turned to cooking.
The talented chef who recently opened a Gelateria and pasta-making space in Point Breeze was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. Facing physical and mental challenges surrounding her treatments, Bruno discovered her love of cooking.
“Pasta and cooking literally saved me,” Bruno said. “I was in such a bad place mentally after my entire journey. I felt that I was without a purpose, and when I started to cook, it not only empowered me, but it brought me back to my roots. I had to start my life over from scratch, and when I create these meals, it’s the same thing. It’s all a bunch of pieces that you need to put together from scratch. It is so rewarding, and it makes people happy, and that means everything to me.”
Bruno has earned the reputation of creating some of the best gelato in the world and has been featured at Ember & Ash, Kalaya Thai Kitchen in the form of push-pops, and several other Philadelphia-area businesses.
Last week she opened her first brick and mortar called “Homemade by Bruno’s” at 1245 S. 15th St. The 400-square-foot venue, located at the intersection of 15th and Wharton streets, will be a gelato production facility for her retail clients. She also plans on opening to the public occasionally, and will teach pasta-making classes and other private culinary events.
“I am very passionate about bringing other cultures’ traditions alive through gelato, and I love working with other brands and chefs to develop unique flavors for them,” said Bruno. “I’m excited to open, but I really want to share my concepts with the public. This will not be a typical scoop shop.”
After opening, Bruno will announce opening times on Instagram for pints of gelato and sorbet purchases. Gelato will eventually be available as pre-made cups, pints and as push-pops. Additionally, Bruno will bring in a number of businesses and restaurants to collaborate and make custom flavors and concepts, and she plans on offering custom “gelato cakes” in various sizes.
“I’m so excited to open my pasta and gelato shop in Philly and finally have my own space that isn’t my home kitchen,” said Bruno.
Focusing on Southern Italian cooking and featuring authentic traditions of the culture and the cuisine, Bruno makes all her pasta by hand, from scratch, using the highest-quality ingredients sourced from Italy.
“It’s also very important to me to always be aware of what I am putting in my body, so I make sure to use only the best ingredients,” Bruno said. “I always say that I want to debunk the myth that pasta is unhealthy, and I’ll be teaching people about that, as well as the difference between ice cream and gelato.”
In 2018, Bruno created her brand and by April of 2019, she launched a website and hosted her first pasta-making party. In 2020, Janine was identified as one of the top-six gelato makers in America by star chef Giada De Laurentiis, and was also named the winner of the Popular Jury at the Gelato Festival America in the same competition. She recently competed in the Gelato Festival World Masters, which is held every four years and is considered the most prestigious gelato event in the world. There, Bruno secured a top-five spot in North America, and is now considered one of the top gelato producers on the planet.
She owes it all to finding a passion while conquering a disease.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it truly changed the trajectory of my entire life,” Bruno said. “I kept thinking about how I wouldn’t know I was very sick if I didn’t go to the doctor for something unrelated. Throughout it all, I stayed strong and positive because I knew I did not have another choice. Having that purpose and sharing it with others brought me back to life. I discovered a passion and talent that I didn’t know I had.”