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Gelato Bar

I had lunch today at Caiotti Pizza Cafe on Tujunga (yum, salsiccia pizza), and saw the new gelateria next door. Actually, a friend who works in the area had alerted me, also that the owner who she knows is someone who travels to Italy a lot and so wanted to replicate a great gelateria here in LA.

It's a quite cute place, looks an old Italian cafe even if it has only been open one week. For gelato, I saw, classics: hazelnut, gianduja, a kind of deadly combo of both, fragola, lampone, cafe, pistacchio, cocco, stracciatella; and some not so classic, like pomegranate and blood orange and more. There were about 20 - 25 flavors? I ate: hazelnut mixed with coffee. Nocciola is basically my litmus test for gelato (i.e., it's my favorite). Not cheap: 5.50. But DELICIOUS. I can't compare to the other gelaterias that have been opening in LA lately, like Pazzo or the one in Pasadena that JG featured recently, but definitely better than Massimo's and definitely felt like I was in Italy in my mouth.

I noticed they were promoting Nancy Silverton's LaBrea bakery cookbook. Then I took the business card: owner is Gail Silverton.

This place seems really great. Gelato Bar, 4342 1/2 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City. It's like they are building a Little Italy strip over there!

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  1. I have to agree! This place is the best looking overall AND not only is the gelato amazing (I lived in Florence so I am a bit spoiled!)but the espresso makes me feel like I am sitting in one of my beautiful piazza's enjoying my life. Thank you Gelato Bar people!

    1. Hmmm...I'll have to go...nocciola e caffe is my fave combo!

      1. I was wondering if anyone was going to respond to this post, or if anyone else was going to this new place. Definitely people try it out--I'm interested in how people think it compares to Pazzo et. al. I thought it was Italy good, which is ... GOOD. Pazzo is next on my list though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: George

          We tried it last night. I got stracciatella and amaretto. Husband got chocolate and one that had a mix of chocolate and (he thinks) vanilla with some praline mixed in, or something like that, sorry to be vague, I wasn't feeling the best last night. It was in the front of the case at the far right as you face the case. Good texture, nice flavors, would return but the place needs some A/C! It was steaming hot inside. A very different experience than Pazzo because the flavors at Pazzo are so unique and also they keep handing you samples. Gelato Bar limits you to three tastes. Next on our to-do gelato list is Scoops.

        2. george...

          pazzo is very good, however, even one of the owners admits. it's "americanized" gelato. the texture is not gelato. it's ice cream. and very, very good ice cream. it's addictive.

          but just know, it's called pazzo gelato, but expect really good ice cream...and espresso.

          1. Glad it finally opened - seemed to lurk there forever and I was worried there was an issue...

            1. I returned here last night, on my way home from visiting in the Valley again.
              It was pretty crowded at 9 pm.
              SO went nocciola (hazelnut) this time, but I went the opposite direction, toward the fruit gelato flavors.
              Melone (cantelope) and Cocco (coconut): UNBELIEVABLE.

              1. went last night since ya'll peaked my curiosity...
                I had stracciatella and pistaccio. My friend had chocolate and banana.
                I gotta say, I was disappointed with mine-I found them way too sweet. and I didn't favor the quality of the chocolate in the stracci. the dark chocolate was delicious-very rich, dark and ultra thick in taste. the banana was also good. Indeed the place is charming and it was quite nice to sit in front room with the fountain. However, there was a VERY fragrant candle that was burning on the countertop. I found the aroma overwhelming (perhaps I'm hypersensitive) and ruining my gelato eating experience -especially when someone ordered a double espresso and all I wanted to smell was ahhh the coffee beans... For $4.50 for a piccolo (and they do mean piccolo) I don't think I will go back.

                Personally I much prefer Bulgarini. I find their gelato texture and flavors much better.
                Flavors less loud and more subtle.

                1. does anyone know their hours?

                  ostudio, we ran by the laemmle to grab some bulgarini on saturday night. i had the combo raspberry and pistachio (seems horrible, but it's an incredible combo). his texture is really improving. it was our best experience yet, there.

                  1. When I went by on Tuesday night, it was 9 pm, and the door said open until 11 pm. Which I remember because it surprised me. This might not be true of every day.
                    I forget what it said about opening hour.

                    I disagree with ostudio about the sweetness issue, but haven't tried stracciatella (don't usually enjoy it). IMHO this is gelato as it is in the very best places in Italy, in Rome (which is where I usually go). The only thing not really very Italian (although with the Euro exchange....) is the price. It should be not so expensive. (My piccolo, yes, was piccolo, and the server could have made sure it was filled to the bottom--it wasn't--and perhaps mounted it up further on top, but I think he was being watched by an owner, and, I was utterly satisfied no matter, after.)

                    1. stopped by at 10:30pm. closed at 10pm. opened until 11pm fri and sat at the very least. will try some other time.

                      1. o.k. george, I will have to give GB another try and try some other flavors.
                        I'm curious to hear your thoughts about bulgarini :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ostudio

                          This may not have been a fair try, but I got a taste of their pistachio a day or two before they officially opened. I agreed with whoever said it was too sweet - and it was oddly "buttery" tasting as well.

                          I'm sure they were getting the kinks out, and I will give them another try, especially since I live so close.

                          But so far, give me the pistachio at Monte Carlo any time.

                        2. george, tried gelato bar tonight.

                          cute place! it's actually adorable. we sat down with a small gelato and some granita and played some scrabble.

                          gail silverton is nancy's sister who has been living in italy. they also carry pastry from la brea bakery.

                          now for the rough news:

                          "fresh ingredients"?
                          i don't know why their card advertises that they use "fresh ingredients." their product is made by Gusto. i'm pretty sure they make their gelato from flavor tins. flavor tins are semi-finished pastes that are placed in the machina gelato to make the final product. PreGel, Monte Bianco, and Elenka are other brands.

                          i suspected this when ostudio commented the product was very sweet. when my husband and i walked through the door, the 18 flavors (most traditional artisan makers cannot put out that breadth of flavors)colors that could not have been natural (blood oranges certainly don't give render that pale orange color) and pre-made laminated flavor signs were a give away. the overly sweet and soft serve ice cream texture were the last confirmations. this gelato is not made from scratch.

                          while some would argue that some of these pastes are artisanal, you could liken it to making macaroni and cheese from freshly grated cheese or opening the foil pack and mixing the cheese powder with milk. i'm not beyond having split open the cheese pack before, but for $4.50 for a small, i'm not sure if i'm really getting value for the product. i might change my mind when i tear open a packet of powdered cowgirl creamery mount tam or when mimosa starts making their delicious mac and cheese with the powdered product.

                          bang for the buck?
                          the gelato wasn't bad. it's just the standard flavor tin gelato that everyone now sets their standard by. for $4.50, i want the real thing from scratch and fresh or flash frozen farmer's market fruit. the portion size was also not generous and the small cup has a funny way of getting very narrow towards the bottom. the "taste only three rule" is off putting and i don't usually taste, i just buy.

                          advertising on chowhound?
                          another thing that leaves a off taste at the bottom of my tiny gelato bar cup is when you pull up other posts on "gelato bar" there is a thread called "amazing new gelato and granita" posted by a person who's chowhound name is very similar to someone who's name is on the business card for gelato bar, joel (or joe) gutman. it is the only post made by them according to their profile. not jumping to any conclusions, it could be a coincidence, but if it isn't, using chowhound to advertise your business without stating your true affiliation is beyond bias and not ethical. it's like lee siegel from the new republic.

                          as for the gelato and ice cream, it's possible that pazzo gelato and bulgarini may be the only ice cream/gelato outfits making their product the old fashioned way from scratch in l.a.

                          does anyone know of any others?

                          1. Agreed on the advert thing, if that is what happened. When I took the card, on the day that I first went, the only name listed was Gail Silverton.

                            But I am somewhat missing the point about paste vs. from scratch. I mean, I understand what you are saying, but my standard for gelato is not that it has to be artisinal and "pure," but that it has to fly me to Italy--it evokes memories, it tastes great. That is rare in LA, so far, in my experience. We have mentioned artisinal gelato makers in Rome like San Crispino, but that is not the norm for the culture of gelato across Italy, or even in Rome. It is surely NOT like the macaroni and cheese analogy.

                            I defy anyone to compare their cantelope gelato to mac and cheese!!

                            Why I object to the analogy, clearly: mac and cheese is like an American version of pasta, cacio e pepe, perhaps. The gelato at Gelato bar is not an American version of gelato, except perhaps in price.

                            1. revets2,thank you for comfirming my suspicions regarding the flavor tins at GB. your gelato knowledge is appreciated. Intuitively it all just didn't sit quite right with me that night.
                              I was also alittle suspicious in not only the color of the flavors, but how they were presented in the metal tins-with all the heaping flourishes. tell me, is this just a stylistic way of presenting gelato?? in my experience whever I see that, the gelato is usually made with flavor tins, both here in the u.s. or in italy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ostudio

                                ostudio, although they call them "flavor tins", they will often come in plastic tubs...just an fyi. stylistically, the super softness of the paste made gelatos does give it the look as if the gelato came out of a soft serve machine. then, there's the pre-made signs, often with the name of the paste company on them. another indicator for me are flavors such as "after eight" or "saranno amaretto". i think it's actually better displayed in italy. they are usually better about putting the representative fruit (or in some case veggie) on it. but if blood oranges are not currently in season or obtainable or haven't been flash frozen, it's hard to display it.

                              2. Just got back from checking out Gelato Bar and really liked it! I got both mango and the blood orange -- the blood orange is amazing! Boyfriend got chocolate/hazelnut, which was very good and reminiscent of Rome. Yes, it's on the expensive side...but the "3 tastes only" rule, while posted, was certainly not being enforced. Definitely worth checking out -- I'll be going back!

                                1. How much gelato did you get for $5.50?
                                  4 oz., 8 oz. I believe the typical Ice cream scoop is 4 oz.

                                  1. george...

                                    you are absolutely correct. sadly, it is no longer the norm, even in italy! my italian friends mourn this. gelato from paste is easier and cheaper to make. that's why if you want "real" italian gelato, get it from the roman in pasadena who makes it from scratch.

                                    i also agree that spaghetti con cacio e pepe is hard to compare to american mac and cheese. perhaps we should compare freeze dried instant espresso to a freshly ground and pulled crema-rich espresso shot pulled by a barista who knows what they're doing.

                                    i have a sweet tooth, but have prevented outgrowing all my clothes by attempting to be more particular about what i eat. if i'm goin' splurge and have gelato and ice cream, it's going to the best i can reasonably get my hands on.

                                    i also avoid eating too many processed foods including foods with preservatives stabilizers and gums. gelato made from flavor tins have a ton of this stuff. when you have gelato from paste you're not having just milk/cream, sugar, sometimes egg and chocolate or fruit. you're having a bunch of stuff you can't identify. just go to one of the many "paste" websites and check it out. i'd rather have real mango vs. powdered mango. that being said, not all pastes are horrible tasting. the monte bianco nocciola is really very good. also, they are other variations on this story. for example, a gelato maker may use a base made of paste and add their own fresh fruit.

                                    as for the business cards at GB, there was also a card for gail silverton. there was also the other which is why, although i think aesthically it is a lovely and unique hangout, i will not return. integrity runs through and through. eventually it will touch the product.

                                    i wanted to love it george, especially because i am grateful for your cannoli find at tutto latte.

                                    1. I, on the other hand, am currently making my way each night through a quart of Mashti's coconut pineapple ice cream--which by the way, has a lot of real coconut shavings in it I've been discovering!--and would eat gelato every day if I could, probably will outgrow all my clothes soon, sadly, but to achieve this state of bliss GB would have to be a little closer to home, and the Pasadena place will have to open for more than Friday, Saturday, Sunday afternoons. It would be great if an artisinal gelato movement of many San Crispino's-cum-Bulgarini's sweeps LA. For now, I'll settle as often as I can for GB, for memories of nights spent in piazze, for flavors provided few other places right now in LA, etc. If there were a lot of good gelaterie around it would be different perhaps. I will also ask next time I am at GB about how they make the gelato, if it is in fact from pastes, if any flavors are different, where they use the fresh ingredients they do claim to use (I remember, now that I'm thinking about it, a whole lot of fresh roasted hazelnuts on top of the nocciola, some of which made it into my serving), what are their plans for the future, etc.

                                      1. george...

                                        i asked. the gentleman server (not owner) said everything is made "fresh". i asked if they used "flavor tins", he didn't know what that meant. he finally completed with his thought with an "i don't make, i just serve it." the signs are gusto, so they are either crushing hazlenuts in the back, straining and incorporating and using gusto base or putting the powder and milk into the machine. color can be a key indicator mostly with the fruits.

                                        judging from the kitchen space in back, i'll bet powder and milk.

                                        i don't predict an artisanal sweep. we're predicting the opposite, actually. paste and machina reps have been sweeping the city and selling the margin advantage. the consumer pays by believing the sticky sweetness and artificial color and texture is true to form. i think we're getting an explosion of paste gelato, then it will implode and consolidate. only the strong will survive. GB may because of location, nice atmosphere, and less than informed clients thinking they're eating real gelato.

                                        again, i've tasted very good paste gelato in nocciola. it's just personal preference.

                                        mashti's rocks. i love to sit and eat saffron and rosewater ice cream with those starchy threads and drink strong coffee with aljazeera playing in the background. too bad the locale not as pretty as some of tehran. it's good to be in l.a.

                                        btw, bulgarini is also open in the laemmle pasadena on fri, sat, and sunday evenings.

                                        www.bulgarinigelato.com for hours, but remember it's italian and sort of operates as such. i just had a pretty mind blowing anana (pineapple) flavored gelato. it's worth a couple of extra inches.

                                        1. best gelato I have tried is at Mondo Gelato in WLA on Pico Blvd, just west of Westwood Blvd.

                                          this place needs to get more attention.

                                            1. GB is terrific. With about 10 or 12 flavors seems to a lot fresher than Monte Carlo. Gelato is different than wine-about aging. GB has been probably the most overpriced gelato with the smallest portions they gave us anyplace in the World.

                                              1. As the owner of the Gelato Bar, I would like to set the record straight as to the ingredients in and the making of our gelato.First of all, our gelato is made fresh daily. The billowy look you see in our pans is a result of the gelato coming straight out of the batch freezer into the pans you see in our case. The gelato is made with 100% natural ingredients, whether fruit or vegetable. Our ingredients are either straight from the market, or from STELLA, an italian supplier of nuts, syrups, condiments and concentrated 'jams" for lack of a better word. These jams are 100% fruit, concentrated for an intense flavoring. We do not use Pre-gel, Gusto or whatever else an uninformed writer claimed. We certainly do not make our gelato from tins, mixes, concentrates or powders. As to the claim that we cannot possibly turn out 24 flavors of fresh, handmade gelato-we absoutely can! Allesandro, our venetian gelataio spends his entire day making gelato. He is as passionate about the product as we are and personnally makes every single pan that you see in the display case. I am not writing here claiming to be the best of anything. I just want to set the record straight, have the facts come directly from the source. I love gelato. You love gelato. I am just trying to serve you what I think is a gelato worth finding a parking space for!!!!!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: gail silverton

                                                  I'll be visiting soon! Thanks for the information.

                                                  1. re: gail silverton

                                                    Gail, what do you use for egg yolks? Powdered eggs? A "Venetian" gelato maker is damning your product with faint praise. Not an area known for its gelato or expertise in anything else much in the culinary sphere.

                                                    Came across this book Gelato that is not an advertisement to buy, but to be aware of if you can get one at your local library that sounds like an excellent exploration of this topic to help us all understand what is and what not is "amazing" about Italian gelato: http://www.foodtourist.com/FTGuide/Co...