Object of Desire: C-Amaro Chocolate & Spreads

Courtesy C-Amaro

Destination-worthy chocolate and nut butters in Lake Como.

There’s more to Lake Como than Clooney—like C-Amaro, producer of some of the best chocolate, nut butters, and juices in Italy. Marco Colzani, who runs the boutique company with his wife, Alice, makes amazingly pure, astoundingly delicious single-origin bars and incredible nut butters in Cassago Brianza, a small town less than an hour north of Milan. Colzani, a dark-haired, mustachioed hipster, works in a chocolate atelier that abuts his parents’ pasticceria, which also happens to be adjacent to the hotel run by his brother.

The cacao studio is a one-room, one-man, improvised operation where Colzani does it all. He roasts his cacao beans (which he sources from 12 countries) in the same oven his father uses to bake cornetti, or the Italian take on the croissant. He pulverizes the roasted beans, meanwhile, in a machine made to crush grapes. Like a lot of things Colzani does, it sounds romantic, but the reasoning behind his method is practical: “It works well and it's inexpensive,” he says. His efforts result in chocolates with distinct personalities and flavors, well suited to side-by-side tastings to fully appreciate the nuances of each one. The Ecuador starts off tasting of banana with a clean, floral finish. The Peruvian is fruity and acidic, while the Sao Tomé is smoky, with a smooth, round flavor of vanilla and toasted marshmallow.

The C-Amaro label also makes juice nectars with the same level of perfectionism. You can’t get them in the U.S. yet, but they are carried in some of Italy’s finest cafés, including the Princi chain and Massimo Bottura’s sandwich shop in Modena. What you can get are Colzani's chocolates and spreads—don’t miss their Sicilian almond spread, which tastes of fragrant marzipan, or the best-selling pistachio cream, emulsified with olive oil. Better yet, experience the best of both worlds with the chocolate-hazelnut spread, which combines nuts from Piedmont with Colzani's own chocolate.

Dark chocolate tasting box and nut spreads. $17–$19; gustiamo.com.