How to Spot Good Gelato from 15 Feet Away

 Posted by on October 13, 2013  Food
Oct 132013
 
GelatoZ

Luscious, fresh, enticing… bad gelato.

Friends traveling with me are often perplexed to see me stick my head in a gelateria’s door and instantly proclaim it good or bad, despite not having approached close enough to smell, let alone taste, the contents of the brilliant, alluring bins of swirling color. It can be done. There are visible signs of good and bad gelato, so today I am sharing my gelato-assessment method, applicable in Italy and around the world, and hopefully of service to you (especially to several specific friends who are going to Italy soon).

First I want to clarify that pretty much all gelato is delicious, even what I term “bad gelato.”  The very humblest kind of gelato is made from pre-packaged powdered mix, consisting of sugar and (usually artificial) flavors and colors, which can be mixed with milk and popped straight into the gelato machine.  The sweet, cold, creamy dessert this produces is still quite yummy, the way cheap candies or grocery store cookies are yummy despite their mundane provenance.  One is certainly happier eating this gelato than no gelato, but in an area saturated with Great Cuisine, like Florence, or Rome, or Montreal, it is seldom worthwhile to settle for the adequate when the sublime lurks around the next corner.

I also stand by my conviction that the quality of gelato is far more variable than that of ice cream, and far harder to predict from flavor options alone.  Ice cream depends on the fat of the cream to help it coagulate, and also on salt as well as sugar, giving it an inherent mix of flavors which are capable of sustaining very complex mixes of flavors (triple fudge marshmallow peanut butter banana chocolate chunk blackberry swirl) and also of concealing it if the ingredients (especially the cream itself) are of middling quality. Gelato is fundamentally just sugar and milk, or sugar and fruit in the case of a sorbeto, and the flavors are usually simple (hazelnut) or extremely simple (fior di late, pure milk).  Thus, you can taste it very easily if gelato contains poor milk, poor fruit, or artificial chemicals (many respectable places still use chemicals to help the gelato coagulate and remain the correct degree of softness in the frezer), far more easily than you can taste the same chemicals supplementing the more full-bodied base flavors of ice cream.

“But I can’t have gelato, I’m vegan and/or lactose intolerant.”

In Florence, Perche no...! has an entire case of dairy-free, vegan gelati, including both amazing sorbets and soy-based creamy flavors.

In Florence, Perche no…! has an entire case of dairy-free, vegan gelati, including both amazing sorbets and soy-based creamy flavors.

I want to briefly combat this assumption.  At its heart gelato is indeed milk-based, but good gelato places also make fruit-based sorbetti, which at their best are pure fruit with sugar, and no dairy at all, while some lower quality ones are mixes of water and fruit extracts, like frozen limeade.  These are perfectly safe for vegan and lactose intolerant people, and many dairy-lovers also love, or even prefer, sorbetti to dairy flavors.  Occasionally the fruit flavors contain egg whites to help them stay solid, but this is uncommon in my experience. If this is a concern it is usually easy to find out by asking.  In addition, more and more serious gelato places have started offering a few flavors based on soy milk or almond milk, to open up gelato more to people who can’t have dairy, and to make use of new exciting flavor possibilities offered by new bases. When I attended the 2012 International Gelato Festival in Florence, I think about a quarter of the competing flavors were dairy-free, possibly more, including both exotic fruits and creamy flavors based on non-dairy milks.  And all were delicious.

Now, the test:

#1) Look at the color of the fruit flavors.  Banana, apple/pear, or berry flavors (frutti di bosco) are the easiest tell.  If the fruit gelati are made of pure, real fruit then they will be the color that fruit would be if you crushed it: berry flavors a deep dark off-black purple/red, apple white or brownish or yellowish sometimes with flecks of peel, and banana a rather unappealing shade of gray.  If, on the other hand, banana is a cheery yellow, apple a perky spring green and berry flavors are the light-ish color of blueberry yogurt, then the gelato before you is a mix of milk with food coloring plus fruit extracts or artificial fruit flavor.  Pistachio similarly should be the color of crushed nuts, not bright green.  The artificial fruit gelati can still be delicious, but only pure fruit sorbetti will give you the overwhelming flavor of top quality fruit gelato which tastes more like fruit than the fruit does, hyperconcentrating the fruit’s flavors and bringing them out with sugar.  This matters even if fruit isn’t your thing: making the gelato out of pure fruit is more laborious and expensive than using flavor extracts, so a gelateria with a brilliant dark frutti di bosco is one that is definitely trying to produce the best, and thus also likely to produce a superior chocolate, crema, etc.  Now, sometimes mixes of fruit with dairy can be good, so a blueberry-yogurt-colored frutti di bosco isn’t always a bad thing, but the pure fruit ones are more difficult and more expensive, so they are always a good sign, even if the opposite is not necessarily a bad sign.  Looking for fruit colors is generally my first test, and if a place passes that’s often enough to say “Yes!” without worrying about other elements of the test.  But if still in doubt:

 

GelatoD

Poor quality fruit gelati. In the foreground left is strawberry and the right mixed berry (frutti di bosco), both in very creamy colors betraying the presence of dairy.

GelatoH

Good berry sorbets. Bottom right blueberry, bottom middle blackberry, bottom left sour cherry, top center strawberry, to its left raspberry, left of that an intentional dairy-mixed creamy frutti di bosco.

#2) Is the gelato mounded up in huge tall piles?  Gelato is soft and fluid, and over time it will naturally flow down, like pudding.  The only way to get it to stably stay in a big tall mound is either to freeze it solid (no longer yummy), or to add chemicals that help it remain solid (which can usually be tasted since there is no salt and little fat to conceal them).  Thus big, tall, enticing mounds of gelato can be a warning sign.  The best gelato will usually not stick above the rim of the bin, unless it has just been brought out.  Many very good gelato places don’t even have an open bin, but keep the gelato in round metal containers with lids deep inside the counter.  This means you can’t see the color of the gelato, but is generally a good sign, since anywhere that doesn’t show off the visuals of its gelato is usually good enough that it knows it doesn’t have to, and cares more about protecting the gelato than about showing it off.  You do need to watch out, though, since some places that serve cheap gelato delivered by vans from warehouses receive it in flat bins with plastic wrap over the top, which is then unwrapped and served.  So while tall mounts of gelato are a bad sign, flat bins aren’t a guarantee of quality.  Metal lids pretty much always mean good quality.

GelatoE

Tall, eye-catching mounds of colorful gelato, not a good sign. The green in the middle is either pistachio or mint – either way, that’s food coloring we see.

GelatoF

Flat bins of good gelato, in a range of natural colors. Soft and served with flat paddles, not curved scoops.

Gelato1

Round metal lids protecting top quality all-natural gelato, in Rivareno (Florence).

#3) Look at the flavors of fruit offered: are there seasonal fruits?  Once again this is a sign relevant to both fruit lovers and those indifferent to fruit.  All gelato places will produce lemon, strawberry, and other popular flavors year round, but a gelato place which pays careful attention to the seasons, producing watermelon, apricot, and peach in summer, fig, apple, and pear in autumn, citrus in winter, and diverse berries in spring is another sign that the people in charge care about quality, and are therefore willing to put in extra effort to master a fleeting seasonal fruit which will only be profitable for about a month a year.  This too bodes well for the quality of all the flavors.  Similarly if you see a bright orange apricot flavor offered in December, safe money says that is a 100% artificial flavor, and many of the others probably are as well.

GelatoB

July in Florence. Perche no…! serves blackberry (nearly black), fig (green and speckly since summer figs are young and not red yet), and vivid cantelope. If I saw blackberry in January or mandarin in July, I would worry.

#4) Look at the translucency of the lemon.  A small gelato place may not have any of the more telltale fruits, but lemon is pretty much always in stock.  Is the lemon an opaque, creamy white that looks rather like the white cream-based flavors?  If so, it is milk mixed with lemon extract.  If, on the other hand, the lemon is translucent white or subtly yellowish off-white, so the edges of it are almost transparent like the transparent outer edge of an ice cube that’s in the process of melting, then it is just water and fruit extract.  This again is a bit more difficult and expensive, because it requires better lemon juice to taste good, and is harder to make stay firm, so again it means the gelato makers have put in more effort.

Gelato8

The difference with the lemon is very subtle and hard to photograph. This image may be useful: this is not lemon. The cone on the left is pear and persimmon, while the cone on the right is fior di latte and mango yogurt. Notice how the fruits, on the left, are a little bit more translucent, while the dairy flavors on the right have a milk opacity all the way to their melty edges. Persimmon and mango are both vivid colors naturally, so vivid here, while the pear is subtle and almost white.

GelatoG

The pistachio on the right here is clearly very artificial. The lemon on the left, though, is translucent, and you can see where it’s melting at the bottom of hte bin that it is becoming clear, rather than milky, when liquid. This place (in Venice, where fresh ingredients are extra expensive) is using artificial flavors and additives, but still doing its best to make a passable lemon sorbet.

#5) Do they offer fior di latte, or fior di panna?  These flavors, made from pure milk and pure cream respectively, are the basic form of gelato.  It means they are the flavors that most clearly expose the quality of the milk, and most clearly betray the presence of artificial additives.  In Italy, virtually all gelato places will offer fior di latte, and any one that doesn’t is conspicuous.  Abroad, especially in the US, it is much more rare, because it exposes inferior ingredients, and few non-Italians know what this flavor is (Americans, for example, always ask for vanilla instead, because we’re not used to the idea that the pure white version of a frozen desert could be so good as to require no flavor, not even vanilla).  If a non-Italian gelato place offers fior di latte, it’s often a good sign.  If an Italian one offers fior di panna, that is a sign that they have put in extra serious effort into maximizing the flavor of their dairy (and cream is more expensive than milk) so also good.  But if they only offer fior di latte with chocolate chips, or with flavored syrup drizzled all over it, they could be showing off their syrups, or they could be covering inferior milk.

GelatoA

Center: fior di latte gelato drowned in flavored syrup. The syrups all over these (and the vivid color of the mint in the top left) are warning signs of lower basic quality underneath the sugary drizzle.

#6) Do they offer hazelnut (nocciola)?  This flavor is, gram for gram, usually the most expensive to produce, and to make genuinely powerful.  For that reason, many gelato places save funds by offering chocolate-hazelnut flavors, bacio or Nutella, but not pure hazelnut.  Others compensate with artificial or weak hazelnut.

Gelato13

An interesting case of what is obviously middle-quality gelato. To the left, “pear and Nutella” has used the supplemental flavors of chocolate and hazelnut to boost a pear which is obviously dairy-based. To the right, the vivid green flavor of the fig shows there are artificial colors but there are also flecks of peel, so this is real fig bolstered with additives. Not the best gelato, but far from the worst, and doing the best with what they have.

#7) Still in doubt?  Now you’re ready to ask to taste something to see if the place is good, but what?  Usually you’re going to order two or more flavors, so asking to taste them all in advance is often a bit much.  Traditionally people recommend tasting the hazelnut, since if it has a powerful, good flavor it means they are sparing no expense.  Tasting fior di latte can also work well, since it is the core of all the other cream-based flavors, so if it is strong and pure the rest will be. Another good choice can be to taste a fruit to see if it’s good quality, or anything unusual or subtle, like basil.

Gelato14What do I do if the gelato place is “bad” but it’s the only one around and I want a gelato?

Despair not!  You can still have a delicious experience at a mediocre gelato place, you just need to choose your flavors appropriately.  Usually if a gelato place is mediocre, it is working with inferior milk, and may have to put additives in the gelato to make it stay soft overnight because they can’t afford to make a new batch every day.  These problems can be tasted easily in pure, simple flavors like fior di latte or the fruit sorbets, but you can choose flavors that conceal them, and thus still have a good experience.  Chocolate is a reliable fallback in almost all circumstances.  Another thing to look out for in mediocre gelato places is a complicated flavor mixing two or more flavors, like tiramisu.  A place local to me here has very disappointing sorbets, but respectable chocolate, tiramisu, and pistachio, and remarkably good creative original flavors like root beer or “Elvis” (chocolate, banana, peanut butter) which are well balanced and conceal the mediocre undertones nicely.  Lemon is also a good fallback.  Whenever I have a rough travel day in Italy, I go to the train station gelato place and get a nice cold lemon, and even the terrible gelato they have in a train station is still miraculously curative after a rough day.

For more on gelato, see also my earlier post: Relax.  Have a gelato.

My next gelato-related project is to assemble a list of good gelato places around the world, to help everyone who has worked up an appetite find good gelato wherever you travel.  So far I have eaten gelato at good places in Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio and Washington DC, and I expect many more will follow.  If you know of a good gelato place, please post about it in the comments here, and I will add it to the list.  Please specify (A) location, (B) how much of the above test it passes, (C) if its gelato is all natural, (D) recommended flavors, (C) other attributes you consider worth mentioning, and (D) website if there is one.  Hopefully together we can make a world wide gelato map capable of combatting the symptoms of dreaded gelato withdrawal no matter where we roam!

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  47 Responses to “How to Spot Good Gelato from 15 Feet Away”

  1. Cow Bella in St. Paul, MN, is very seasonal, has appropriately-colored gelatos, and flat metal lids, just off the top of my head. I haven’t tried the lemon (and it’s not on display, so I can’t look), but the pistachio is so amazingly good that I have been known to decline chocolate and caramel (both of which are incredibly Mrissish flavors) in order to have pistachio. And fig! You have explained why there was fig when I was there last fall and not when I was there early this summer, so now I will go back hoping for more fig. http://www.cowbellagelato.com/

  2. I prefer calling it “train station gelato” to “bad gelato”. “Bad” sounds like a value judgement. Or as if you’re not going to eat it anyway.

  3. When I lived in Roma, I had 2 favorite gelato places, primarily because I was a poor young adult that couldn’t afford the top-notch places. One was “Old Bridge” right off of Piazza Risorgamento, and the other was “Giovanni Fassi” in the Esquilino neighborhood (right down the street from my apartment.) Given the number of natives in both places, they seemed pretty good.

  4. Capogiro in Philadelphia is my go-to place for gelato. Fantastic quality and unusual flavors. They use seasonal and local ingredients.The flavors change frequently, though there are some constants, like bitter chocolate and stracciatella. You can even get it shipped though I haven’t tried that. There’s three locations in Philadelphia if I recall correctly. Most of my trips to Philly usually end up with me popping by Capogiro.

    http://www.capogirogelato.com/

  5. Vero, in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, is owned by a italian guy and is awesome. Its pistachio is just like you said, with a bronzeish, pale green, and the guy is always inventing new flavors. I once had a caipirinha ice cream! And in Rome I´ve discovered by accident a fenomenal one, I Caruso, that later was considered the best in town, see http://www.revealedrome.com/2011/06/i-caruso-best-gelato-in-rome-food-secret-gelateria.html

  6. Check out Gelatiamo in Seattle. It’s some of the best gelato outside of Italy that I’ve had!

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I went in there today, and had pear and blackberry. Both were good. (I’ve come to expect good blackberry, after living in the Pacific Northwest for less than a year, but pear is one of the tricky flavors.)

  7. I wasn’t aware of these techniques for judging good gelato the last time I was there, so I don’t know how well it would stand up, but some the best gelato I’ve ever had (by flavor) was at the Gelato Bar at 1936 Hillhurst Ave in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

    I recall the woman behind the counter talking about how her husband studied how to make good gelato in Italy, and about how much time and effort goes into concentrating the flavors.

    I had an unbelievable pear and a fantastic Greek yogurt/honey; the tartness of the Greek yogurt complimented the sweetness of the pear nicely. A friend of mine was in love with their grapefruit sorbetto on that same trip.

  8. Please check out Gorgeous Gelato in Portland, ME! Your article includes a lot of subtleties I never realized until now, but my own personal “gelato test” has always been NOCCIOLA, and Gorgeous Gelato’s is some of the best I’ve ever had. In fact it’s hard for me to try other flavors there, because I love their nocciola so much! Owners are from Milan and I believe their product would meet many, if not all, of your criteria for excellence.

  9. If you like chocolate, only Venchi is acceptable.
    They have different % of chocolate (e.g. 75%).
    Additionally, they make it with milk or with water.
    As you can expect, they taste very different.
    Finally, they make it with different chocolates (blended) or from a single cocoa bean.
    In Rome they are in via della Croce (next to Spanish steps).
    In my opinion, nothing else is even close.

  10. Try Dolche Amore in Vancouver, BC. It’s on Commercial Drive (the old Italian, working-class sector of the city), and although new, it’s quite good!

  11. Gelato Fiasco, Brunswick, Maine.

    Seasonal flavors, proper colors, flat bins, no decorative syrup. I have no idea about the lemon because I was so overwhelmed by the cranberry and allspice flavors that I felt no need to order more.

  12. You should try Morano Gelato in Hanover, NH if you find yourself anywhere near Dartmouth College. Forbes Magazine wrote it up as the best gelato in the country. The founder spent 6 years making gelato in Florence. I’ll try some of the other places in these comments, but Morano Gelato passes all of the tests in this article with flying colors and then some!

  13. Alotto Gelato in Portland , OR, they started at a farmer’s market, use local produce and come closest to the magic that emptied my pockets in Spain.

  14. The speckles of real vanilla bean in the vanilla is also a good, though not sufficient, sign. When I lived in Testaccio, the old butcher’s quarter of Rome, the neighbourhood boasted (still does) one of the best Pizza joints in the entire city, Remo’s, and a very fine gelateria just across the way, now gone. That was one fine piazza.

  15. I agree with Beer & Skittles…Gelatiamo in Seattle is divine! Owner is from Italy and learned from the best!

  16. Dolche Spazio Gelato 221 North Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos is quite good. We go there regularly! http://www.dolcespazio.com/

  17. I live in a gelato desert as far as I know. I’ve never seen gelato in China. Gotta go to Hong Kong if I want some, and even then I’d be lucky to find the inferior kind. Damn you geloto-less China, damn you!

  18. Let me start by saying I’m obsessed with gelato. Last year I spent two weeks in Florence, and although it was winter I found two shops that exceeded the rest:
    Gelateria dei Neri, Florence. They won best dark chocolate of the year, but you must try their profiterole semmifreddo.

    Il Re Gelato, Florence. The owner is a master of Sicilian dessert, and everything in his shop is delicious. His sicilian gelato is not only healthier than most gelato, his fruit flavors are made with the highest quality and freshness that one’s tongue cannot refuse! Also, his presentation was beautiful and by far the prettiest gelato I’ve seen.

    Morano Gelato of Hanover, NH is the best gelato outside of Italy. I have had both Grom and Amorino Gelato in NYC, although both have good gelato, Morano Gelato is better. Forbes magazine acclaimed Morano to be the best gelato outside of Italy, and I agree. The gelato is made onsite daily, flavors change every day, and the flavors are also seasonal. Morano Gelato uses local dairy, fruit, and berries. The fruit is picked fresh and in the gelato the next day. Also, they source out of Italy for the finest chocolate, and nuts. Their Pistacchio is made only from Sicilian pistachios, because they are known to be the best in the world. That goes for the Nocciola, too, they only use hazelnuts from the Piedmont region because they are known to be the highest quality. Morano Gelato is the best!

  19. Thanks for your article! Especially for your last paragraph, which is v helpful. I’ve had to make radical changes to my diet for health reasons over the last couple of years, and many foods have been labelled “contraband”. I still eat them from time to time but have adopted a sort of “smaller amount, but better quality” rule. Problem with that is you can find yourself edging further and further towards food puritanism, and losing a lot of fun along the way!

  20. Capo Giro in Philadelphia – best ever outside of Italy. Lancaster County milk, spectacular flavors, and the most serious dark chocolate you will ever see

  21. Good points all (although I might disagree with the practice of measuring gelato against sorbetto), but the biggest problem I have with gelati is when it’s been sitting around and develops a grainy consistency, which is hard to determine visually.

  22. If you’re in Toronto I recommend Capitano’s on Yonge st. All their Gelato passes the test and is made in house.

    They also make great burgers oddly enough.

  23. I haven’t checked whether their gelato passes your tests, but as someone who adores gelato, I can say that (a) these two places make taste buds do a happy dance and break out in song, and (b) are long-adored favourites in the city, far and away more popular than other locations.

    In Ottawa: I was a long-time fan of Piccolo Grande (http://www.piccologrande.ca/), in the Byward Market. Their gelato compared well to the best of what I enjoyed in Italy. And then came Stella Luna, in Old Ottawa South (on Bank Street) a year ago– even better than Piccolo Grande. Delicious fresh-tasting strong pure flavours, great texture. Stella Luna (http://www.slgelato.com/) also has good coffee and sandwiches.

  24. Frost Gelato, Tucson, Phoenix, and soon to open in Albuquerque. Truly amazing quality and the original cook-Nazario has created flavor unparalled. Salted Caramel and Pistachio are exquisite. I have never had a bad flavor and have probably tried them all.
    Perfect consistency-always.

  25. This is a fascinating and thorough article! Thank you! I have recently moved away from a favorite gelato maker of mine, Madisano’s in Cincinnati.
    http://madisonosgelato.blogspot.com/

  26. Pitango in the DC metro area is the best! They pass the presentation test (stored under round metal lids, not piled up) and offer Crema (I would assume this is the equivalant of fior di panna) and Nocciola, as well as a variety of seasonal flavors.The gelato is creamy and soft just as it should be. It is definitely the closest you can get to the gelato in Italy, and hands-down the best gelato in D.C.

  27. Many thanks, everyone, for the many suggestions. I will compile them next chance I get.

    I had not heard of Pitango but it does sound good. Good crema is a great sign, though crema is not, in fact, equivalent to fior di panna. Crema is custard flavor, based on the kind of sweet yellow egg-based custard you get as a filling in pasteries. By adding the egg custard element, crema becomes something closer to what is called French Vanilla in the US, and it can conceal inferior quality milk the same way vanilla does in ice cream. Crema is one of the most staple gelato flavors, and between them crema and fior di panna occupy the position in the gelato world that vanilla does in the ice cream world. Every good gelato place has a reliable and rich crema, and some show off by having special varieties of crema with subtle addatives like citrus extract, roasted pine nuts, basil or liqeur. It is a reliable flavor, often good even at mediocre places and delightful at good ones, but becuase it is an easier flavor to ahcieve, crema is not as sure a test of a gelateria’s quality as fior di panna.

  28. Best gelato in the USA is at Frost a gelato shoppe in Gilbert Az

  29. La Divina makes gelato and sorbetto from scratch in New Orleans, LA. Grass fed milk and seasonal, local ingredients. Signature flavors include creme brulee, bourbon pecan, chocolate azteca.

  30. London is a bit of an ice cream desert (anywhere someone offers you “an ice cream” and can be expected to mean (a) soft serve or (b) a popsicle needs help). But gelato has started to become more popular in the last couple of years. I commend La Gelateria to you http://www.lagelatiera.co.uk/

  31. Pitango in DC is great, though incredibly expensive. I think their smallest size will cost you in excess of $5. Also, their crema flavor refers to espresso crema, and it is delightful. Dolcezza is another place worth trying.

  32. Pazzo Gelato in Sliver Lake, CA (Los Angeles). Amazing job with the fruit sorbettos, always keeps it seasonal. Strawberry sorbet with chocolate chunks, chocolate hazelnut gelato, pear sorbet.

  33. The bar opposite the train station in Chiusi (SI) has the most astounding nut gelati: pure Hazel nut or Almond but also the ‘Lars Porsenna’ (named after the first Etruscan king of Roma). Unrivalled for the quality of ingredients. Drop in there whilst changing trains from Siena to Rome.
    Bar Cavallino Bianco, Piazza Dante 12, 53043 Chiusi, Siena

  34. You can find ice crem produced of natural ingredients in Krakow in Poland; the address is:

    Pracownia Cukiernicza Stanisław Sarga
    ul. Starowiślna 83
    31-052 Kraków
    They have no website unfortunately

    The forest berry flavor is amazing, but any option you choose is worth of trying and they are served from containers covered by metal leads, isn’t it a proof of quality in most cases? :D

  35. Pitango has it all but he flavors are weak at best.

  36. Gelateria Naia in Berkeley and North Beach, San Francisco (and in freezer cases all over the Bay Area, mostly in Whole Foods). All natural, high-quality gelato, including an impressive range of sorbetti and soy-based concoctions.

    Low, flat-packed product in metal tins with flat lids. Cheerful decor in oranges and yellows and little cycling caps on the scoopers. Cash only; have they never heard of Square?

    Good seasonal flavors and an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients: chocolate from Tcho, tea from Numi, coffee beans from Blue Bottle. An interesting selection of ever-changing innovative flavors: rose, Earl Grey, jasmine, marzipan, ACE (energy drinks from Europe), and the “savory” line, which, last time I was there, was comprised solely of black sesame and saffron, but which the scooper told me was going to be expanded. But then I moved, so who knows.

    They’ve expanded into gelato bars; I don’t quite know how that works, because they’re much harder than the ideal consistency of gelato, but the flavors are quite tempting and they seem popular in the Bay Area for parties and events.

    But the best part is the cute little trinkets–a demitasse of espresso beans, a parrot for Madagascar vanilla, a silk flower for rose–that decorate most of the flavors (the ones that aren’t just fruit, which have, duh, a fruit on them) to help you decide and remember what you want!

    http://gelaterianaia.com/
    http://www.bargelato.com/

  37. There is a great place in Santa Fe, New Mexico called Ecco Gelato. They pass almost all the tests (nocciolla is sometimes seem, but they always have chocolate hazelnut). They use locla milk, and no premixes as I know it. On par with good Italian Gelaterias.

  38. I’ve had Pitango when in D.C. and it fascinates me, because it passes all the tests which should indicate good gelato, and yet it isn’t. I don’t know what they’re doing wrong. The colors are right, the storage is right, but it’s as though someone took a knob marked ‘flavor’ and turned it way, way down. It’s the correct flavors, just not enough of them. And yet, how do you get the right flavors in that mild a way without adding ingredients which ought to produce a different flavor? Extremely confusing experience.

    As is generally the case with mediocre gelato, the chocolate and coffee flavors are perfectly acceptable.

    For people using this thread as a reference: as both Ex Urbe and I have found from experience, the best gelato in D.C. is, weirdly enough, in the cafe in the basement between the two wings of the National Gallery of Art, the one right next to the interior waterfall. Try the apple.

  39. The two best gelato places I know of in the US are Black Dog gelato in Chicago (blackdogchicago.com) and Dolcetti Gelato (dolcettigelato.com) in Salt Lake City. Both are excellent, all natural, in-season fruit kind of places. Black Dog has a supremely talented executive chef who pushes our more exotic flavors, while I believe the family at Dolcetti apprenticed in Italy for a time.

  40. I own a Gelateria in Escondido called EscoGelato http://www.escogelato.com . We make all our gelato fresh daily and use local products whenever they are in season. In addition to classics like pistachio, hazelnut, and stracciatella we offer flavors like almond fig, sour cream brown sugar and apricot goat cheese. We don’t use any flavor compounds and all of our flavors come from “real food”. Thank you for sharing this article…great stuff.

  41. Montreal: I thought you had it, but the excellent gelato place we found near Laurier metro with the bay, rhubarb, salted caramel, and litchi and rose, is called Fous Desserts. http://www.fousdesserts.com/acceuil.html

  42. I enjoy your article greatly, because it is so rare to read something about gelato that is not just fluff. Yes, even in Italy it is not easy to find the good gelateria, but the difference is that somehow the Italians seems to know and all you have to do is ask, and they are so happy and proud to send you to the right place.
    In Washington DC where I live, there is one outstanding gelateria; Pitango Gelato, with two locations in town. they use all organic ingredient no flavoring or chemicals, and all their fruit sorbeti are made with fresh fruits. I think they are by far the best gelato in town, Yet, I find myself arguing with my friends that tell me that because pitango “hide” their gelato in covered bins, they would prefer to go to one of the places where they can “see what they eat”. Your article gave me the right explanation. Thanks!

  43. I am the proud owner of two stores, Palmer &Wasilla Ak! We get our base fresh from a dairy farm here in Alaska! We use fresh fruits when we can and always try to be creative with our gelato ! Thanks for promoting Gelato! The business names are Palmer Downtown Deli and Cafe Kudrino! Thanks again

  44. I like Killer E.S.P. (Espresso Sorbetto & Pie) in Old Town Alexandria just outside of DC. They switch up their flavors a lot and I always find something I love. I always get psyched when I see they have some pear or melon in the case.

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