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Restaurants & Bars

Yagoz Fine Gelato, San Jose

Melanie Wong | Dec 23, 2005 04:05 AM

Following up on a tip for a new gelato spot in San Jose, Thursday night I stopped at Yagoz Fine Gelato on my way south. The enthusiastic young man on duty was quite affable and encouraged me to try as many flavors as I liked. I'm a bit embarassed to admit that when I finally stopped sampling, I had used up 14 little spoons. He said I was one of only a handful of customers who could pronounce "zabaglione" and the only one who knew what "mandorlone" was. (G)

The style here is richer than what I think of as traditional gelato. The gelati has some cream in the base, but no eggs or gelatin. It's also a bit fluffier and not quite as heavy and dense. The flavors are very concentrated, though in some examples where the basic material is only fair, making it more intense fails to improve it. The sorbetti had too much air in them for my taste, and while all were made from fresh fruit, the ingredients in the base muddied the taste.

The best flavors were the nut-based ones. Rather than using canned nut pastes, these are made from freshly ground nuts. The textures are rougher and less refined, but the added flavor impact is well worth it. The pistachio was superb. Hazelnut, chocolate hazelnut, and mandorlone (caramel and toasted almond) were packed with nuttiness and also seemed less sweet and therefore more pleasing to me.

I also like the zabaglione, shown in the "regular", $2.85, cup below with chocolate hazelnut. Amaretto was very nice too.

The vanilla was vile with weird chemically overtones. The bitterness and tannic bite in the green tea was way out of balance. The chocolate d'italia was heavy on cocoa powder but lacked the richness of real chocolate.

I sampled the green apple, pineapple, raspberry, and blueberry sorbetti. Only the pineapple had enough acidity to keep the sugary base from being too cloying.

Scooping is generous here and I liked the temperature of the product. I'd certainly come back for the nut-based flavors. Open less than a year, they're still tinkering with their recipes and it will be interesting to watch them evolve.

Yagoz is on Meridian at Willow adjoining Togo's. It's only a mile off 280 and made an easy rest stop (TWO nice rest rooms). It's about the size of a Starbucks with easy chairs, counters, and tables for hanging out. WiFi is free and it has plenty of parking and a gas station across the street.

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