Karen Coltun and Alan Yaruss Bring Biscuit Tortoni to Sarasota

Karen Coltun and Alan Yaruss are whipping up a beloved Italian dessert.

By Megan McDonald March 1, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Karen Coltun and Alan Yaruss of Brooklyn Biscuit Tortoni Company. 

Image: Jennifer Soos

Sweet history Brooklyn Biscuit Tortoni Company was born when Karen Coltun and Alan Yaruss, a couple who are both native New Yorkers, were looking for an out-of-the-ordinary dessert to serve for Thanksgiving dinner in 2014. Alan remembered a frozen treat he’d enjoyed as a kid called a biscuit tortoni. “It was always served at the end of Italian restaurant meals,” he says. He and Karen worked on the recipe until it tasted the way Alan remembered and brought it to Thanksgiving dinner. “It was a big hit,” he says.

The backstory Biscuit tortoni is named after Giuseppe Tortoni, an Italian who opened an ice cream shop in Paris in the 18th century. It’s comprised of a soft-frozen custard called a semifreddo that’s flavored with vanilla and topped with amaretti cookie crumbles and a maraschino cherry. Yaruss and Coltun get the cream that they use from Dakin Dairy, and the desserts contain no preservatives. They’re packaged the way Coltun remembers them, in a fluted paper cup with a red-and-white label. “We don’t want to lose the authenticity,” Coltun explains.

Local love Soon after their Thanksgiving dinner, Yaruss and Coltun were having lunch at Mozzarella Fella and telling the owner about the dessert. “He said, ‘I haven’t seen one of those in 35 years—would you wholesale them?’” Yaruss recalls. “We hadn’t really thought about it, but I thought sure, why not?” They soon received a similar request from Solarzano’s pizza restaurant. Now they’ve set up corporate offices on Longboat Key and begun working out of a commercial kitchen in Bradenton. “We’re in 47 restaurants, plus we do events—we plan to be the same size as Sara Lee!” Yaruss says with a laugh. Info:

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