As promised, I did use my next visit to Los Angeles to form my own opinion of the Gelato Bar on Hillhurst, in Hollywood/Los Feliz. Less than an hour ago, in fact, so I’m posting while all of my impressions are fresh (for a change).
Dawn did not exaggerate.
This is easily the best gelato I’ve tasted outside of Italy and rivals most of the gelato I tasted INSIDE Italy. This gelateria is owned by a third generation Italian gelato maker, and it shows. Okay, it’s a little pricey, but compared to a plane ticket to Florence, it’s one heck of a bargain!
They take pride in both the freshness of their ingredients and the proportion of fresh fruit or other natural flavorings in each variety they offer. They make about 70 different flavors and rotate them, offering a couple dozen at a time–though a few favorites are always available. Next time I’m in LA (this is a fairly short visit, alas) I plan to make a point of going back and trying some different selections.
For this visit, I went with the Cioccolato Sorbetto and the Menta, while Dawn chose the Olio d’Olivia and the Blueberry-Pomegranate Sorbetto. Before ordering, we tasted both the Cioccolato and the O d’O–partly because I was skeptical about both. Chocolate Sorbet? Really? Oh, yes. Really. I was expecting ice crystals, but no. Very smooth and creamy and INTENSELY chocolate. I asked and was told it’s made with water instead of milk (hence, sorbetto–and which means someone lactose intolerant would be fine with it) and with 70% cocoa. This chocolate may just beat out Il Grand Duca in Florence for richness. The Olio d’Olivia was described as “sweet cream and olive oil,” which sounded…unlikely. But it was delicious, with just a hint of rich olive oil taste. Since we were told it paired well with the fruit flavors, that’s what we did.
Blueberry-Pomegranate sounded like such a winner we ordered it without tasting first and were not disappointed in the least–and it did indeed pair excellently with the O d’O. Mint is always a fave of mine and went divinely with the rich, dark chocolate. (Ooh, and they also put in lovely cookie sticks with fudge drizzled inside. I recommend using it as a spoon until it’s gone.)
If I ever said (as I might have) that you just can’t get authentic Italian gelato in the States, I take it back. The Gelato Bar is superb and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Los Angeles. Kudos!