With Limster off to Boston I figured it was time for a newbie to step up and scout out some chowish eateries near Cal.
Well, here goes.
Those of you who hang out in Berkeley have probably seen the mysterious "Mondo Gelato" sign on Shattuck a few doors down from Downtown (Tara posted a question about it a few weeks ago). It opened last Thursday and I have already been there twice...in the last forty-eight hours.
One step inside the sleek brightly lit interior and you know this isn't Ben & Jerrys. On entering you are greeted by a long glass case filled with about 50 stunning flavors of gelato. Displayed Italian style in narrow sliver tubs, each flavor is artistically decorated with an appropriate food items -- a carved lemon, coconut shell or half-sunken chocolate bar. And yes, they taste as good as they look. While I did not get a chance to try every one, I was very impressed with most of the 15 or so that I sampled.
Chocolate lovers, the've got you covered. You have your choice of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate orange and several other more exotic chocolate based flavors (Nutella, Ferrero Rocher...) I fell in love with the dark chocolate. Think of a chunk of your favorite dark Belgium chocolate. Now imagine it reincarnated as a cold silky spoonable dessert.
They also have an incredible assortment of fruit gelatos (technically these are sorbettos, since they are not milk based). Like everything in the store these are made on premises, so the assortment of flavors on any given day depends on which fruits are freshly available. Some of the flavors I remember were strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, nectarine, mango, papaya, and lemon. One of the most surprisingly delightful flavors was pear. With a stark white color containing no pieces of fruit it is one of the most inconspicuous flavors in the store. The only reason I noticed it was that one of the workers kept sneaking tastes for himself when he thought no one was looking. Its is packed with more pear flavor then any pear I've ever eaten and has a creamy texture that most pears would be envious of.
Two more flavors deserve special mention. The first one is rose. The one is probably not for everyone, but personally I love the taste of roses. It is subtle compared to the dark chocolate, but it has a wonderfully refreshing taste. Finally, a gelato classic -- pistachio. If you like pistachios you NEED to taste this one.
So where did this magical store come from? I got the scoop (sorry couldn't resist) from one of the owners who was working behind the counter. Mondo Gelato has shops in Beijing and Vancouver, but this is their first store in the US. He tried to downplay the chain image because he said the stores are all owned and operated by a small group of friends. They are affiliated with an artisan gelato maker in Italy who personally designs all of their recipes. Most of their ingredients, gelato making equipment and even furniture are imported from Italy as well.
2106 Shattuck Avenue
One block South of University Avenue between Center Street and Addison