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Al Gelato Disappointment

Did I just pick the two worst flavors, or is Al Gelato just not for me?

Cabernet: nice enough texture, but a little too sugary with not enough cabernet flavor. Didn't like my sample enough to buy a whole cup. Should have sampled more before deciding to buy a whole cup of...

Blackberry: just plain awful. It was incredibly dense, so much so that it felt foamy in my mouth and left that fatty tasting coating on my tongue. It was also served frozen so hard that I couldn't dig into it with my spoon. I just held the cup like a cone and took bites out of it. Not licks, bites. And I had to chew too. Worst of all, it didn't taste like fresh blackberries. Instead, it tasted like those marinated cherries you find in black cherry ice cream. I love ice cream, and I couldn't even finish a small cup of this. Honestly, I would rather eat Rite Aid ice cream for all its artificial flavoring.

Did I pick bad flavors? The apple, mango,orange, and chocolate looked promising, but I thought I'd try something different. I love blackberries, and I've never been so disappointed by something with blackberries as flavoring.

Are there other favorite gelaterias in the area? My next stop is the one inside the Century City Mall Gelson's someone mentioned.

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  1. I've never tried the blackberry, but I can say that the apple, pear, and pineapple are all wonderful ices. For gelato, the chocolate is excellent, as are the coffee flavors.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jwsel

      I must have just had bad luck. There was no pineapple or pear (I love pear ices), the only chocolate was hazelnut flavored (ick), and I didn't notice coffee. Would you say that Al tends towards the sweet side? I know that's some people's preference.

    2. My favoritesthere are the pear and melon ice, and the lemon as well.
      As for chocolate being hazelnut flavored, yum as opposedto ick. I like gianduja and the straight hazelnut nocciola even more.

      The simple cream gelato (crema) is fine.

      If you like ices you might like the place on Montana across from the aero theater.
      1305 MONTANA AVE

      1. Personally I don't much like the cabernet (tastes like Welch's grape juice to me) and am not sure I have ever tried more than a spoonful of the blackberry. Favorite flavors: coconut (by far), capuccino, crema, vaniglia (lemon-vanilla), green apple, pear, grapefruit, orange. I also like the ripply, crazy-quilt "spumoni" (which is a random combination of leftovers, not a fixed combination of a few flavors like most spumonis) and rainbow sherbet although I could easily see how others wouldn't.

        And yes, I would agree that most of the flavors tend to the sweet side, just like the tomato sauce and the caramel-drenched apple pie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PayOrPlay

          definitely the rainbow sherbet!

        2. hte cocoonut gelato is pretty darn good, yes, the gelato is very sweet. it's not a nuancy less sweet gelato.

          1. You know, I also found it disappointing. I think I had hazelnut. It was a little sweet, but my issue with it was more texture-related...it just didn't have the smooth creaminess I expect from gelato. Try Gelato Fantasia in Palms...it's a little hole-in-the-wall with lower prices and much better gelato.

            1. the coconut is actually pretty smooth.

              but once again, in general, their red sauce italian dishes are there strong suit, which is interesting considering this is first and foremost a gelato shoppe.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kevin

                It depends on how sweet you like your red sauce. I found it about 4 times as sweet as ketchup, which is to say, approaching the level of sugar in a jam or jelly. I like a little sugar in my sauce to cut the tomato acid, but theirs goes way overboard for me. So I'd say their strong suit IS gelato, but reasonable minds may differ...

              2. I wasn't impressed with their gelato either, for the some of the same reasons you stated: very cold temperature, too sweet, and fatty residue. Chocolate and coffee were the flavors I ordered, IIRC.

                For comparison, last month I finally tried Il Cono's gelato, just sampling the riso (rice) flavor. Better. Fairly clean but perhaps a little too fluffy for my tastes. Also a slight artificial flavor, kind of a souped-up vanilla essence, but then again decent enough to draw out some nice rice flavor and chewy grain. I need to try more flavors to get a better reading. I seem to recall somebody on this board liked the pear sorbetto.


                I'm very curious about Gelato Fantasia that Nicole mentioned above.

                5 Replies
                1. re: petradish

                  I'll tell you a little more, since you are interested. Gelato Fantasia is located at 10422 National Blvd. It only opened a few months ago. The owner is a very nice woman. For instance, she is always extremely patient with my friend who likes to sample about 10 flavors before ordering (as opposed to Al Gelato's unfriendly 2 sample limit). I have liked every flavor I've tried there...I usually get half hazelnut, half almond. Or half coconut. But their fruit flavors are also excellent...I remember their strawberry in particular being great...really full of strawberry flavor. I've enjoyed every flavor I've tried...I don't think you can go wrong there. The owner makes small, fresh batches twice a day. She has also tried to make the decor very warm and welcoming...lots of pink, some nice but limited seating, etc...It's location is hole-in-the-wall, but it's actually a lovely little place.

                  1. re: Nicole

                    I agree that two might be a little bit limiting, but I find it hard to concede that a place that might cut your friend off after ten samples of gelato is unfriendly. how many tastes in an order?
                    it's a little excessive, don't you think?

                    1. re: Jerome

                      I was trying to make a joke about the woman at Gelato Fantasia being ridculously nice. My over-tasting friend has never been to Al Gelato. I just happened to notice that they had a 2 tasting limit sign up, and thought of how nice the woman at Gelato Fantasia is. Agreed that 10 tastes is excessive!

                  2. re: petradish

                    Hi there- can you please tell me where you bought Il Cono? This is made in Italy, right? THANKS

                    1. re: running pig

                      I think she means the gelato shop called Il Cono. It's in Beverly Hills on Little Santa Monica Blvd. around Beverly Drive, north side of the street.

                  3. Nope, they aren't the best Gelato I've had in the city either. Sorry! :( I do however, LOVE their Apple Gelato... Very tasty! :)

                    I tried UGO's (In CC) this past week and was unimpressed as well.

                    We recently had an absolute WONDERFUL Hazelnut Gelato at one of my favorite stops in Long Beach, Aroma de Roma on 2nd St.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dommy

                      This is extremely subjective, but I came away more impressed with Aroma di Roma's pretty display case than their gelato. Their dairy fat and air ratios seemed a bit off and veered into *normal* ice cream territory.

                    2. If you're on the East Side or in the Valley, you gotta try this place for AMAZING and fresh Gelato:

                      Pinocchio/Monte Carlo Market
                      3103 W. Magnolia Blvd.
                      (818) 845-3517

                      It's kind of a weird Italian Cafeteria/Market, and the food is good and cheap, but the Gelato is inCREDible.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jotoll

                        Agree - love their hazelnut gelato.

                      2. second (or third) Il Cono in the BH area, but there really aren't any great gelaterie in LA.

                        1. Al Gelato my favorite of the ones I've tried is the Cappucinno crunch (or something to that effect). Il Cono in Beverly Hills is tasty, with large assortment, but the offerings are fairly sweet. Please stay away from the Gelateria just off of 3rd st promenade in Santa Monica. I have not had a flavor there worth the calories. It is an amateur attempt at gelato at best, and the quantity of flavors (probably 80 or so) does not make up for the decidely average flavor of any of them. If you like cabernet flavor, Trader Joes, of all places, makes (made?) a tasty cabernet/blackberry sorbet.

                          1. Speaking of gelato from TJ's, their tiramisu gelato leaves me speechless. Dusted with chocolate, surrounded underneath with chocolate, layered with tiramisu gelato...perfect for SoCal weather. They also sell vanilla and chocolate gelato in the same section, but I'd rank the tiramisu as #1. The chocolate, however, is not bad either. :)