Fans of Bulgarini Gelato know the drill: head to Pasadena from wherever else you are, climb up Lake Avenue to Altadena, traveling up practically into the Mt. Wilson clouds, and then turn off into the vast concrete landscape of a Rite Aid parking lot. There, at the end of a long patio, you'll find Leo Bulgarini's gelato factory. Bring an ice box. Pitch a tent.
Now comes news that you will not necessarily have to make the trek to get Bulgarini's justly famous pistachio gelato, or at least that you can save the pilgrimage to coincide with World Cup matches. Bulgarini has taken over the lease on Teaforest Coffee and Tea Bar on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, and will be moving his gelato freezer cases into the space.
Bulgarini will officially open — keeping the same name, but adding his own — on December 1st.
Bulgarini has been looking to move west for a long time, which should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who has to navigate the stalled concrete landscape of L.A.'s freeways. But not to worry if you actually live in Pasadena: his Altadena shop, where he makes all his gelati and sorbetti, isn't going anywhere. He may recalibrate his hours a little, but that's about it. No worries either if you're a Teaforest regular: Bulgarini isn't changing anything there, not the coffee, not the tea, not even the name of the business.
“You've got to do things slowly, or people freak out,” said Bulgarini, who says he also has plans to make his own Italian breads for the sandwiches and to hold gelato-making classes. Oh, and a liquor license is also in the works; the gelato maker was, after all, a sommelier in a previous lifetime, and has a fondness for gelato wine pairings.
As for further plans, Bulgarini did say that he's been thinking about a gelato truck. “Let me do the business first,” he said. The move is, of course, great news for anyone in the Culver City area (Sony people, Willows schoolchildren) or who can't seem to keep the gelato in the freezer case on the way back to the Westside.
The new space will also help Bulgarini ride out the winter months in this town, where, he says, people do not eat ice cream during cold weather like they do in, say, Buffalo, New York. That urban legend that more people consume ice cream in cold weather than in hot? It's true, said Bulgarini when we asked. He'd done the research. “In Miami, in Buffalo, yes. In Southern California, they don't.” Maybe blame the traffic.
To celebrate the opening, Bulgarini will be having a gelateria-warming (so to speak) party, probably on Saturday, December 3rd, with free gelato. Free gelato? Yes, we confirmed it a few times, for purely selfish reasons. Check back for more details as the date gets closer.