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Italian and Ice Cream

izzizzi May 20, 2007 10:14 AM

Philadelphia:

Best Italian restaurant? Best ice cream parlor?

  1. s
    SpdRcr069 May 14, 2008 06:44 AM

    Not sure if it's the best, but here's a list of my favorites:

    Italian Restaurants

    Osteria
    James (contemporary Italian)
    Modo Mio
    Tre Scalini (not been there since they've relocated, but hear it's still the tops.

    Ice Cream Parlor(s)

    Franklin Fountain
    Bassett's (Reading Terminal Market)

    Capagiro's - Artisanal Gelato/ Sorbetto

    1. e
      Elaine May 23, 2007 05:20 PM

      I don't know about "best," but Mandoline is excellent and Capagiro gelato is on their dessert menu. They usually have two flavors.

      BTW, after having the much-touted gelato at il Laboratorio, in NY, a couple of weeks ago, I can report that Capogiro has a slightly smoother texure and much greater variety of flavors. And from what I've seen on the NY Chowhound board, it's really catching on there.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Elaine
        izzizzi May 23, 2007 05:31 PM

        oooh good, I could kill two birds with one stone! Nice suggestion, thanks! The only Il Lab flavor I tried was Mascarpone which was pretty delicious.

        1. re: Elaine
          r
          racer x Apr 25, 2008 08:58 PM

          NY'er here, who frequently visits Philly.

          I much prefer the stuff fresh from the shop at Capogiro to anything I've ever had from Il Laboratorio del Gelato's shop in NY - although like some others on the Philly board, I sometimes find some of Capogiro's stuff too icy or grainy, and some of their more adventurous flavors don't always work for me.

          Even so, I always look forward to a visit to Capogiro when I'm in Philly. A Primo Hoagie followed by a Capogiro gelato is just a little slice of heaven.

          One of the annoyances at Capogiro is that they usually don't have all the same flavors at both of their Center City shops. So if I just visit the 13th & Sansom shop, which is closer to where I'm usually doing business, I worry that I might be missing something over at the other shop (yes, embarrassment of riches). In each shop they should post a list of all the flavors the other shop is carrying, for obsessive-compulsives like me.

          I was thrilled to read about Toscana's in this thread. Can't wait to try them out!

          Actually, my intention with this post was to say that I was introduced to Franklin's Fountain today. Prices seemed a little high ($10 for a banana split, $7 - 8 for a sundae), so I settled on just a couple of scoops of ice cream for a first taste. The peach was fantastic; if they are still making all their own ice cream, as Buckethead said they had begun doing last year, then they've got this flavor down perfectly. The cherry-vanilla, on the other hand, was not very good - it tasted cold and sweet but without any distinct vanilla or fruit flavor. And it seemed too icy, not very creamy.

          Overall, I had a very positive first impression of Franklin's Fountain. The wonderful smells coming from the back (waffle cones being cooked?) certainly helped. I'm looking forward to getting back to try the peach melba, and (my standard test dessert from ice cream parlors) a strawberry sundae with vanilla ice cream.

          1. re: racer x
            b
            Buckethead Apr 26, 2008 07:12 AM

            Toscana just closed.

            1. re: Buckethead
              s
              sandrad May 13, 2008 08:50 PM

              Toscana was open today.

              1. re: sandrad
                b
                Buckethead May 14, 2008 06:16 AM

                I was mistaken, foobooz said that a gelateria at 6th and Chestnut had closed, I thought that was Toscana. Sorry to give bad info, hopefully racer x didn't write it off.

                1. re: Buckethead
                  s
                  sandrad May 14, 2008 06:56 PM

                  It had been closed for months-no sign, no anything. It just reopened this week.

                  1. re: sandrad
                    r
                    racer x Jun 4, 2008 05:41 PM

                    I had the pleasure of being introduced to Cafe Toscana Gelateria this afternoon. Most of the flavors I tried were very good. However, none were quite as good as what I typically get at Capogiro. I also prefer the textures of the gelato at Capogiro, where it is smoother and creamier (yes, purists be damned but I also like the mouthfeel you get with certain stabilizers/emulsifiers). The gelato at Toscana, today anyway, had the feel that I get with ice cream in my ice cream maker just before it goes into the freezer -- like tiny (invisible) ice crystals.
                    Incidentally, for those that care: Toscana's vanilla gelato smelled/tasted of fine Tahitian vanilla (I'm more of a Bourbon vanilla fan myself).

                    Toscana wipes Capogiro away, though, in terms of the amount of gelato you get for your money. I was very happily surprised by how much I was given with my order. For visitors to the city, this is a great place to bring the kids after a stop at Independence Hall across the street.

        2. b
          Buckethead May 20, 2007 04:38 PM

          1. Osteria.
          2. Capogiro.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Buckethead
            izzizzi May 20, 2007 05:29 PM

            Have you been to Franklin's Fountain?

            1. re: izzizzi
              b
              Buckethead May 20, 2007 06:50 PM

              Yep. I guess technically Capogiro is not an ice cream parlor, but I'd rather get dessert there than at the Fountain any day of the week.

              1. re: Buckethead
                izzizzi May 21, 2007 06:44 AM

                the fountain just isn't that good? I love a good sundae...so I'm curious, but if you think the overall quality is better at Capogiro...then I'd rather go there. I tend to prefer the consistency of gelato to ice cream anyway.

                1. re: izzizzi
                  b
                  Buckethead May 21, 2007 07:36 AM

                  The fountain isn't bad, but they started making their own ice cream this season (or maybe last, I don't remember), and it's not as good as what they used to serve, whatever that was. I respect their decision to do it themselves, it certainly fits with the overall experience they're going for there. Perhaps in time, they'll get really good at it. But if flavor is your main concern, head to Capogiro.

                  1. re: Buckethead
                    m
                    mazza3 May 21, 2007 01:51 PM

                    the owners of capogiro are a bunch of thieves, they steal all their ideas from a gelateria on chestnut street. don't remember what that place is called, but the owner's name is paolo.

                    now for the question asked...
                    1. depends on my mood. dante and luigi's for red sauce always. definitely am aching to try osteria!
                    2. water ice baby! cardullo's.

                    1. re: mazza3
                      b
                      Buckethead May 21, 2007 02:13 PM

                      If you remember the name of that gelateria, post it, I'd be curious to try it. I've never heard that accusation leveled against Capogiro before, but if someone out there is making better gelato than they are, I've gotta try it.

                      1. re: mazza3
                        b
                        Bob Loblaw May 22, 2007 02:03 PM

                        if you mean the gelato place near independence hall, I disagree. I like both places, but the one near 6th street is mostly focused on making traditional flavors and getting them right. capogiro is more into creating new flavors.

                        i really like both places, btw.

                        1. re: Bob Loblaw
                          bluehensfan May 22, 2007 04:55 PM

                          The guy near Independence Hall (who owns Mezza Luna by the way) is not named Paolo. I think. I do know he gets his gelato mix directly from Italy and also does up a number of delicious Italian flavors. I've been flamed so many times in the past for admitting this, but I like the gelato here (Cafe Toscana) a thousand times better than Capogiro, as the latter (while admittedly more inventive) has always tasted "icy" to me on my ten or so visits to unsuccessfully find a flavor I like. Unfortunately I am not the only one, as another former chef from a very popular BYO in Philly shares this opinion.

                          1. re: bluehensfan
                            m
                            mazza3 May 23, 2007 08:45 AM

                            paolo could be the other mezza luna owner, in that case his name is canio i believe....and personally, i agree with you, so no flaming from me. :) capogiro just doesn't do it for me, and i totally agree with the icy observation. their stracchiatella and nocciola both taste thin and icy and you really should get the italian classics right if you are a gelateria.

                            as for the comment on the capogiro owners being sneaky, that is hearsay from people who would know. i personally have never witnessed it, so my opinion should not sully their reputation...

                            1. re: mazza3
                              bluehensfan May 23, 2007 11:20 AM

                              I'll have to ask the guy at Toscana what his name is the next time I am in there since he knows who we are because we go there a lot...I did get some gelato there last Saturday and it was good as usual by the way. Since we will be in the area again over the weekend we may stop by (after Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at that).

                              1. re: bluehensfan
                                r
                                racer x Apr 25, 2008 09:02 PM

                                Does anyone know whether Capogiro uses thickeners in their gelato? I love that luscious look many of their flavors have, as well as the smoothness in on the tongue.

                            2. re: bluehensfan
                              b
                              Bride of the Juggler May 14, 2008 08:09 AM

                              I'd rather have artisinal gelato made from scratch from Capogiro than one made from a mix anywhere else. Thank you.

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