Best Gelato Snafu, a.k.a. the Neo-Neapolitan

As ever, the gelato wars rage. It’s a free-for-all: Il Cono versus Boule versus Al Gelato versus Bulgarini versus Scoops — each has its strengths and weaknesses and a field of fighting partisans. Let us stay above the fray; instead of planting flags on the best locale, how about I offer only anecdotal guidance about the best combination of flavors I’ve ever encountered. It happened one warm evening at Pazzo Gelato in Silver Lake. Pazzo has certainly become the Eastside regional favorite, with its small batches of unusual flavors, all made from scratch with fresh organic milk and farmers’-market fruit. Despite the hype, I wasn’t convinced, since my first small bowl there was a bit cloying. Moreover, what kind of purist gelato haunt would offer rainbow sprinkles on the counter? Might as well pour some Magic Shell on your limoncello with basil or mix in some Fluff with that apricot-ginger sorbet. To be fair, the owner says the sprinkles are there to assuage the Philistines.

On my second visit, I happened to hit upon just the right flavor selection, starting with my request for “the most chocolatiest chocolate you got in the case” to anchor the pint I was taking home. That led to an exquisitely dark chocolate tinged with orange, followed by what some might say was a risky choice of pistachio with fig preserves. The nut-and-fruit combo, however, provided just the right bridge to my third choice, a pink layer that looked like strawberry but was a tart red plum that cut the sweetness of the other two. Looking down at the dark-light-pink stripes in the container, I realized I was holding an accidentally highfalutin, artisinal re-creation of a classic — a neo-Neapolitan to end all Neapolitans. When eaten in the right order, the procession of flavors was perfect, with the acidic Santa Rosa red plum cleansing the palate so you could start all over again. I couldn’t get through my courtyard without all my neighbors wanting some. A half-dozen samplers all concurred: the best gelato-based tricolor around. The last, my neighbor Colin, lifted the spoon and asked, “Nice, but where’s the sprinkles?”

Pazzo Gelato 3827 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 662-1410

LA Weekly