PDX: gelato recs?
- springfever Aug 4, 2005 03:26 PM
We've decided to try out the various gelato places around Portland -- not all in one day, although that's sounding pretty good as the thermometer climbs. I've found 3 (Mio, Alotto, and Staccato) but I'm pretty sure there are more. Anyone know of others, and their addresses? Also interested in what you think of any place you've tried. Thanks!
Sorry that I just missed yours for PDX. My request is more for anywhere in Pacific Northwest. I hope it will not cause confusion.
You've got to try the honey lavender when they have it at Staccato.
I don't get why people on this board seem to prefer Mio--what I've had there is generally too sweet for me, and it doesn't seem to have as much flavor as Staccato. And I far prefer the funky atmosphere at Staccato to that at the new Irvington Mio, which seems overly yuppified. AND they don't recycle the cups at Mio like they do at Staccato!
The honey lavendar is my favorite there as well. I always tell them how disappointed I am when they're out.
I can't speak for everyone (though I usually make a darned good effort at it), but I've found Staccato's textures to be consistently worse than any of the others. Ice crystals in gelato really stand out and Staccato's flavors usually have them. And while some flavors can be great, some can be terrible. Their sorbets, too, are usually pretty bad. I've had several flavors now where they just tasted like goop. Goopy sugar water and nothing more. I related a story here last year when they started showing up at the PFM about how I made blackberry sorbet and the same week tried theirs. Mine tasted like blackberries and had a decent, though a bit icy, texture. Theirs tasted like frozen liquid styrofoam and had the consistency of that slime from Ghostbusters. (Or at least the toy slime that me and my friends got taken away at school.)
You'll want to put Via Delizia on that list. There's a place on Fremont as well called Parisi's, I believe, but they don't make their own. They ship it in from Michigan and it has a gooey texture, possibly from the stabilizers.
I like Mio, Alotto, and Delizia about equally. Although the new location of Mio has their stuff frozen as hard as a rock, so let it thaw a little. Delizia's texture is a little more creamy than the other two, I don't know if that's from cream or not, making it more American in style.
Staccato is way less consistent. But they often have the most interesting flavors. Stay away from their sorbets, though.
See link for some pictures.
if you get gelato at Via Deliza get it "to go" because they charge more for "for here" (I guess because they stick a wafer in it?)
I think their gelato is good but are they trying to be a nice restaurant or a gelato place? I feel weird bringing in my kid after a bit of Jamison Square wading because there are white tableclothes etc...
Personally, I like Staccato for their interesting flavors. I also like the funky vibe. My daughter loves their watermelon sorbet.
Mio gelato is good but slightly more pricey with slightly smaller scoops. I don't like it as much because it has too much of a sterile corporate vibe to it. And I witnessed a nasty incident between a customer and an employee that really turned me off to the place.
My favorite recent bad behavior story was at Motor Moka on NE Grand recently. A guy had to wait for a while to make his order, so he said something snide to the counter person like "Does it usually take this long to get served here?" She told him an outright lie, that sounded as though it was the stock answer, "Sorry, we're short-staffed today." He didn't let it drop, and said something else fussy I don't remember. After he left, I heard her say to one of her co-workers, right in front of me, "What an asshole."
Bad form, saying that in front of other customers, but on the other hand, he was kind of being an asshole.
Okay, I decided now that it's fall it's the perfect time for a gelato report. [Roll your eyes here.]
There are nine that I know of and I've visited them all multiple times. Here are my rankings, something not in my blog report:
1. Via Delizia
Great combination of intense, true flavors and smooth, creamy texture.
2. Mio Gelato
Nice, clean, smooth texture, with flavors that could use more intensity.
3. Kaiju Cafe
Decent flavors, decent textures. Made in Eugene.
4. Alotto Gelato
Relatively instense flavors, but grainy textures.
5. Tutto Bene
Okay flavors, okay textures.
Frustrating textures and bad sorbettos. Often great flavors.
7. Old Town
More like ice cream.
Gooey with only mediocre flavors.
9. Bombe Gelato
Bad flavors, airy gelato.
Ask me again and I'll give you a different order, except Via would always be on top and Bombe would always be at the bottom. The ones I'm least certain about are Tutto and Kaiju because their products weren't strikingly good or bad and I haven't had as many visits to them. Honestly, I think 2-5 are pretty close depending on what characteristics of gelato and what flavors are important to you.
I had a fantastic Pluot sorbetto at Staccato this weekend. One of the best I've had in pdx. No ice anywhere, nice intense flavor. The partner wondered out loud if they've gotten better while he was eating his honey lavender, maple walnut and vanilla. They were pretty tasty too. Nothing like what you'd ever eat in Italy, texture-wise, but I haven't had anything in Portland that was similiar.
In the bigger report, I mention that I think they've changed how they're doing things. Their textures on their gelatos are gooier and less icy than they used to be. I haven't asked, but I've suspected they could be using stabilizers, just storing/temp controlling differently, or using more fat. I don't know. But there seems to have been a change at some point. Last time I was in, I had both good and bad results, still, with sorbets, however. Really annoying because I think Staccato often has the best and most interesting flavors. I would LOVE them to consistently have their act together on textures because they might be my favorite.
Trillium, I haven't been to Italy and don't know how it would differ there. There's enough variation here, that I'm surprised one wouldn't nail the texture you're looking for, assuming there's one "Italian" texture. But have you tried Via? I don't say this just because it's my favorite, but also because someone told me that the person in charge of their gelato trained in Italy and earned some master gelato maker certification or something like that.
I had that Pluot sorbetto at Staccato a month or so ago, and I agree that it was one of the best flavors I've had in quite a while. When their flavors are on, they have an intensity that I haven't tasted at the other places in town.
The gelato maker at Mio is definitely Italian, by the way (don't know about his certification). I've been going to the Irvington Mio for to get Illy espresso in the mornings, and he's usually there. They said that they make the gelato for all three locations at the Irvington branch.