Bulgarini Gelato: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Some people check the weather report before they go to the beach. I have been known to check the Italian soccer results before I drive up to Bulgarini. If AS Roma has just dropped a match to Juventus, the mood of gelato master Leo Bulgarini is likely to be as dark and bitter as his Florentine-chocolate gelato with sea salt. The gelateria is a schlep from practically everywhere in Los Angeles — much farther and you're with the rattlesnakes and jackrabbits in the San Gabriel Mountains. Henry Ford himself used to test the engines of his cars against the steep upper grade. Tucked in behind an auto parts store, Bulgarini Gelato is the most improbable ice cream store in California, almost a gelato speakeasy, where the gelati are labeled only in Italian, and — beyond the seasonal fruit sorbetti and the gelato made with the pistachios Bulgarini hand-carries back from Bronte — the best flavors include a goat-milk gelato with roasted cacao nibs that could double as a cheese course. It's petting-zoo gelato, gelato you can imagine nibbling on your sleeves. 749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena. (626) 791-6174, bulgarinigelato.com. Wed.-Thurs., Sun., noon-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon-9 p.m. Lot parking. MC, V. Gelateria.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
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