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Apr 14, 2007 02:34 PM

Bulgarini Gelato has opened...

749 East Altadena, at the corner of Lake Street. There's no permanent signage, just some hand painted plywood, and the full menu isn't yet available (though I did see a few people ordering tiny cups of espresso)... but the gelato is as good as ever!

They're giving away small scoops today, with one or two flavors. Normally these will run $3.50, so get there before they run out...

Today they featured: Chocolate, Chocolate/Rum, Chocolate Cinnamon, Zabaglione, Cinnamon Cream, Gin/Melon, Hazelnut, Pistachio, Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherimoya... and a few others that have slipped my mind.

There was an impressive line when we got there, but it moved steadily... we were in and out in less than 30 minutes. They were already out of a few flavors, but there was still a wider variety than they'd ever had on their cart... some of the folks in line were buying multiple half-kilo cold-pak containers of flavors that they liked, so, you never know what will be left when you arrive.

Leo and Elizabeth looked a little shell shocked at the rush, and it was only 12:45... and they're going to try to stay open until 8:00. They had about ten people standing around trying to help, but the organization was pretty inept. They had the cart set up outside, but nobody was tending it, so everyone had to step inside the store, where most of the staff (and family and friends) were just standing around taking up room.

Still, between this and the Caviar ice-cream at Scoops its a very good day to eat something cold.

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  1. C'mon, gelato-heads - where's the good word on this place? Need to hear some news about the Gin/Melon, Zabaglione, Pistachio, and Cherimoya! How can I butress a trip out to Bulgarini in Altadena? Where to go before and/or after? Descanso Gardens? The Huntington? Dim sum in SGV might kill the desire to shovel down gelato... or would it?

    3 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Gelato! Yum! What's cherimoya. I've seen it at local farmer's markets. I know it's in season, but what exactly is it? What does it taste like. Can you compare it to something, as far as taste?

      1. re: cheesecustard

        Hmmm... how does one describe the flavor of a cherimoya? Well, the flavor to me consists of about 60% pineapple, about 25% banana without the strong scent, and the rest is a mix of maybe apple and a little hint of citrus. When perfectly ripe, it has the consistancy of a custard, and is perfect for making into a sorbetto or even a gelato. In fact, one can freeze the cherimoya and end up with something akin to a sorbetto. The fruit can be cut in half and the pulp can be scooped out with a spoon. It has a fair amount of seeds, but they are large enough - about the size of a dry pinto bean - to be easily discarded.

        Cherimoya is as prevalent in Peru as apples are over here. Fortunately for us, alot of growers seem to be starting up more cherimoya orchards as the weather in alot of So Cal fits this fruit tree's culture. The only catch is the blossoms need to be polinated by hand - twice a day - as the natural polinator is only in Peru; thus, the somewhat high price per pound. As more quantities come to market, the price is dropping - you ought to give it a try if you see them at the farmers markets. The prices can be more reasonable depending on the time of the year and the size of the fruit. Just ask the grower about how to ripen it and how to store it.

        Thinking about cherimoya as a flavor offered at Bulgarini makes me feel a serious need to go out there...

        1. re: cheesecustard

          I actually describe cherimoya as durian without the smell of decay.

      2. i've pledged my allegiance enough to BULGARINI to be predictable here, so i'll describe how an italian customer reacted while i was there. she asked for nocciola (hazlenut), pistacchio, and torone (i think nougat). she was going crazy, kissing Leo. extolling how L.A. finally has real gelato. three kilos at 28.50 and she was gone back to brentwood. it was like watching an italian sitcom, hand waving and everything.

        the gelato is great if not better than before. they are completely overwhelmed by the response and had no idea they'd have lines around the corner. they've taken a desolate little mall in a not great area where we only go occasionally for auto parts and made it a delight.

        warning: avoid the bakery across the way. it was great when it was owned by nancy, but not anymore.

        9 Replies
        1. re: revets2

          Finally - someone throwing us a bone! Thanks for the great story! What did you end up trying?

          1. re: bulavinaka


            granita: blood orange

            sorbetti: anana (pineapple), cantaloupe, cantaloupe w/ vodka, cantaloupe w/gin, casaba melon, cherimoya, lapone (raspberry), fragola (strawberry),

            gelati: cioccolata, cubano (choc. w/ rum), bacio (choc. w/ hazlenuts), cioc con canela (choc. w/ cinammon), cioc. con arancia (choc. w/ orange), pistacchio, nocciola (hazlenut), espresso, crema, zambaglione/crema con marsala, crema con canela (cinammon), fragola y crema (strawberries & cream), banana, mirtillio (blueberry), lemon cream...that's all i can remember.

            didn't have, didn't need dinner that night.

            1. re: revets2

              I can only dream of trying all of those wonderful flavors on one visit, let alone live to tell about it and remember all of the names.... You are awesome!

              Which were your top three, and what'd you think of the cherimoya and the ones laced with booze?

              1. re: bulavinaka

                the cherimoya is great. i can't be more eloquent than a. scattergood's words from the LAT article. the slight addition of gin/marsala/vodka/rum adds a "depth of flavor" to the sorbetti. it also adds some complexity to the fruit.

                1. re: revets2

                  My dreams will gelato and sorbetto dreams will finally come true... Thank you for your great review!

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    was there 15 min. before closing. i had already missed the mango and a couple of other flavors. customers kept coming, even after 8pm. they shut the doors and called it a night by 9pm. leo had been making gelati since 3am.

                    his mother said there was a line out the door today. given the location, i'm shocked, but i guess that goes to show how far people will go for great and real gelato.

                    1. re: revets2

                      It sounds like Leo really didn't expect what came there way upon opening the doors to their business. He must now realize how fantastic of a reputation he has. A great product will always stand on its own - good location or not. Please keep us posted of your ongoing pleasure trips to Bulgarini - I'm tasting vicariously through you until I get out there! Thanks again.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Still haven't managed to try this yet, but I hope if it's as good as it's reputed that people will keep going back even after the opening days hoopla. I think free gelato probably have something to do with the crowd.

                        1. re: notmartha

                          we went to try to get gelato on free gelato day and saw neighbors in line. we weren't going to wait in the line that wrapped around the mall preferring a shorter wait and paying $3-$4 for gelato. our neighbors waited two hours!

                          hoping it would be less busy the next non-free gelato day, there was again a huge line, about a 30 min. wait. and i saw some repeats from the day before. we went 15 min. to closing last night as i said in my post above and they said it was also a busy day both at the shop and for catering (apparently they participated in the wrap party for CSI Vegas).

                          the key may be to go earlier in the week and early. last night we had already missed a couple of flavors. my face went smile to frown when his mother scraped the last of the pistachio for another customer, then leo said his next batch would be up in 15 minutes if i could wait which i did and it was worth it.

                          so far, people are going back after opening free gelato day. i don't know what they'll do when his mom goes back to italy. she's terrific.

        2. I went by this afternoon - probably 4:30ish, and they were doing steady business - people getting 1/2 kilo mixed-packs to go (including the last of the chocolate chip, which is what I'd been thinking to order *sniff*). By the time I made it to the front of the line, there were people lined-up out the door and I felt guilty about asking for tastes (thought I did so want to!), so I ordered a small half chocolate/half banana. Perfection! Rich, smooth, creamy, deeply flavored - the essence of chocolate and the essence of banana in each spoonful.

          I need to brush-up on my Italian, though - I wasn't very successful at puzzling out the flavors based on the labels. Not that I'm complaining! I think I would have been equally as happy had I just closed my eyes and pointed - there was nothing that looked anything less than fantasy-inducing.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ElsieDee

            Revets2 has compiled quite an amazing list of flavors in the post above. The flavors are listed in Italian and their English translations follow. Maybe you can print out this post and bring it with you for starters... Thanks again, Revets2!

            1. re: bulavinaka

              *laughing* That would have been the logical, organized thing to do - my trip was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. But yes, I've now copied and pasted Revets2's list and will print it out. Thanks, Revets2!

              1. re: ElsieDee

                My guess is you were caught up in the moment - passion does that to our senses and sensibilites... now that you've been around the block (probably literally while in line at Bulgarini), you can approach their frozen elixers with more cunning but with passion as your motive... ;))

          2. i was there today (rainy friday) at a little past 1. no one in line, and a nice selection of flavors. i think the rainy day has helped them catch their breath and prepare for the onslaught of a (predicted) nice day saturday. i tried the pistachio, chocolate cinnamon and plain cinnamon. all three were wonderful, and the trio of flavors was quite complementary. i am anxious to try some of the flavors that they were out of today...will be making this detour again soon.

            1. at the risk of not having the flavors i love available, my favorite flavor combination is (drum roll please):

              pistacchio con fragola (or pistachio with strawberry)

              not intuitive, i know, but a gelatario that elizabeth bulgarini trained with, carlo pistacchi at alaska in venezia, turned me on to it. he would take fresh strawberry granita, top it with fresh pistacchio, a little whipped cream and chopped fresh spearmint. amazing and totally addicting.

              my pet peeve are people who shove four flavors in a cup that don't go together. the gelato nazi in venice won't let you do it! i get it!

              maybe everyone can start their favorite gelato/ice cream combos here. i'll start:

              pistacchio con fragola