sku got into a major gelato jones and ending up trying a big swath of the major gelato places in the greater Los Angeles area in short order. First, a definition. Gelato uses more milk and less cream than ice cream, so it has less fat. Traditionally, gelato doesn’t have eggs in the custard base, unlike ice cream. It’s also churned at a slower rate than ice cream, so it has less air whipped into it, explains sku.
His very favorite gelato: Bulgarini. “I’m happy to report that the hype surrounding this Altadena gelato shop is well deserved,” says sku. “The best flavors here were transcendent in both flavor and texture, particularly the olive oil yogurt, a fluffy, light as air tart frozen yogurt with a smooth olive oil taste topped with olive oil. It reminded me of some sort of olive oil foam you might get at Bazaar.” The day he visited, there was also a beautiful sheep’s milk and parsley gelato with Madeira, and excellent chocolate gelato and lemon cream gelato.
Gelato Bar is owned by Gail Silverton, sister of Nancy Silverton. It was the big surprise in sku’s tour: unsung, but glorious. Gelato Bar offers interesting, though not overly bizarre, flavors that are bold and lightly sweetened. “Their gelato is a perfect textural specimen, rich and creamy with a dissolve in your mouth quality.” It’s not quite as innovative or transcendent as Bulgarini’s, but it’s sku’s second-favorite local gelato.
And then there’s affogato. “The beauty of the affogato is that the rich espresso melds with the gelato and forms a heavenly coffee ice cream float,” says sku. “When done well, it is a beautiful gestalt of flavors, halfway between a solid and liquid but filled with flavor. When done poorly, it’s a scoop of ice cream sitting in a cold puddle of coffee, a sad affair to say the least.”
The affogato at Gelato Bar is the absolute best in town, says sku. “Made with a perfectly pulled Ecco Caffe espresso, whipped cream and Valrhona cacao nibs, the Gelato Bar affogato shows the importance of proper espresso preparation in the dish’s composition. … Why this place hasn’t entered the pantheon of great LA gelatos is beyond me.”
Bulgarini Gelato [San Gabriel Valley]
749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena
Gelato Bar [San Fernando Valley–East]
4342 1/2 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City
Board Link: My LA Gelato Tour