Al Gelato: Blackberry Gelato

Before every neighborhood boasted its own gelato shop, before bacon and Fernet-Branca began showing up in frozen treats, before premium ice cream became ultra-premium, there was Al Gelato. This friendly neighborhood cafe on the southern edge of Beverly Hills (i.e. the “wrong side of the tracks” by westside standards) serves a range of savory Italian fare, but the best reasons to come here are the gelato and the desserts.

Al Gelato: Exterior

This is traditional gelato: creamy, even a bit gummy, without any newfangled flavors like red velvet. Respect for tradition, however, doesn't mean Al Gelato lacks panache.

Among their 25 or so flavors, Al Gelato makes a lovely creme brûlée, evoking all at once the bitterness of that dessert's burnt sugar crust and the creamy custard beneath.

The rich, deep red cabernet sorbet is a force to be reckoned with, and the pale green apple sorbet, with just a hint of tartness, is a standout. The old standby, coffee-crunch, is also a standout.

Instead of rum raisin, by now a fairly common flavor, Al Gelato makes wine raisin, a more mellow, less emphatically alcoholic take on the booze and dairy meme.

If you order a scoop of gelato for eating while you're at the cafe, you get your choice of a dollop of whipped cream or a mini-scoop of a second flavor on top.

Aside from the cold frozen treats, Al Gelato is known for their baked goods: towering apple pie, miniature cinnamon buns, sesame cookies and flaky sfogliatelle filled with citrus-tinged ricotta. It's earned plenty of acclaim, deservedly so, for its desserts.

What people may not know about Al Gelato is that it also makes one of the best coffee granitas in town. It's more of a parfait, really, with layers of coffee-soaked shaved ice competing with sweet cream. Heaven.


LA Weekly