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Bulgarini - Bad Experience

After reading all the rave reviews I felt like I had to make a Memorial Day Weekend drive to Bulgarini. I must say, except for the Pistachio gelato, which was good, I was very disappointed. When my wife and I arrived, there was a very thin selection of flavors and the ones that they had did not look appealing in the case.

My wife ordered Strawberry and it had a bit of a 'chemical' taste. Not like fresh Strawberries. I ordered the chocolate and espresso. Here comes the "bad" part...when the lady behind the counter scooped it up, she dropped it and then proceeded to serve me the dish of gelato. When I mentioned that the dropped gelato didn't look appetizing, she proceeded to wipe the gelato off with a napkin and give it back to me. My wife and I were horrified that they didn't offer to scoop a new serving. Over the years, I've had scoops of ice cream fall off the cone and the store offers to give you a new one. Has anyone else had an experience like that?

Needless to say, we didn't eat the ice cream. We then drove over to Pazzo and I had Chevre with Strawberries (very good) and my wife had Creme Fraiche with Strawberry Champagne (also very good). Whenever we go there, the service is always friendly and they usually have an interesting combination of fresh flavors.

I was really disappointed by Bulgarini. Not just by the lackluster selection or presentation, but also by the bad customer service. We drove all the way from West Hollywood because I heard so many rave reviews. Maybe this was an off day, but I can't say we will be back.

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  1. This is a bummer. I've only been to the actual shop once. Other than that, I always eat their gelato at the Laemmle Playhouse 7, and it has always been good.

    I have to admit, although many people on this board talk about driving miles and miles for food, I generally try to stick to my neighborhood or neighborhoods that I'm driving through for a particular purpose, other than just eating (e.g., going to work, going to visit someone, etc.). Do you think driving from West Hollywood was part of the let-down?

    I also have a question: did the gelato fall on the floor? I can't believe that someone would pick that up and serve it to a paying customer.

    I have never been to or heard of Pazzo, but I'm glad that you enjoyed what you had there. I will say that I've had good gelato at other places, but Bulgarini did win me over when I finally tried it. I also think one of the reasons that I like it is because it's available in my neighborhood.

    3 Replies
    1. re: katkoupai

      It wasn't the drive from West Hollywood that was the bummer. We love Vietnamese and Chinese food and often drive to SGV. We thought it would be fun to drive out near Pasadena and trying Bulgarnini sounded like something fun to do. The bummer was that I heard so much about it and was looking forward to a nice holiday weekend treat.

      I totally want to root for Mom & Pops shops that are dedicated to using quality ingredients. My wife loves good gelato with fresh fruit flavors and you don't get that at most "ice cream" shops.

      1. re: bsquared2

        Got it. Well, I haven't tried the flavors that you mentioned. Did the server offer you samples? That helped me decide on the flavors to get and the ones not to get. Some of the ones that I've liked have been the following:

        pistachio
        hazelnut
        melon
        pineapple

        I've eaten Bulgarini gelato at least ten times. The time at the shop was the best, in my experience. When I went, all the flavors were there and full, and the owner and his wife were serving. There was also a large amount of customers. The other times, I've eaten it at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 movie theatre, and there's a nice guy that serves it there too.

        In the end, sorry that it tasted bad to you and also that the service was poor. :(

        1. re: bsquared2

          Check out Scoops on Heliotrope and Melrose, very good and unique flavors

      2. I don't think it's a chemical taste, but I think the drop business rightly put you off. So unlike the man and woman I have dealt with.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Did it drop on the floor or did it drop back in the container? Please be more specific??
            B/c if it's the former then that's disgusting and I can't imagine that they would put it back on and that you would agree to pay for it. And if it did drop on the floor, then why did you pay for it?

            3 Replies
            1. re: hazelnutty

              Sorry, I will clarify this. It didn't drop on the floor (which is really disgusting), it dropped on the counter, ice cream side down. The person behind the counter then turned it over and served it to us. When we mentioned that we didn't think this was acceptable, she looked at us like we were from Mars. After we protested, she then wiped the surface of the gelato with a napkin and gave it back to us. We said that wasn't really an acceptable solution and received the same quizzical expression.

              After protesting a couple of times, I really didn't feel like arguing with her. I figured I would let my wife enjoy her gelato. She mentioned that the flavor of the Strawberry wasn't quite right so we decided to go somewhere else.

              While dropped on the floor is worse than dropped on the counter, it is still symptomatic of a problem. How much does a scoop of ice cream cost vs. the cost of a grossed out or unhappy customer.

              1. re: bsquared2

                I thought perhaps it had dropped back into the ice cream. Sometimes when I'm at an ice cream shop, there is already a made scoop in the ice cream and then they give it to me, that really bothers me. I want a new scoop, but I still take it and pay for it, although if I see that I'll avoid that flavor. Am I making any sense? Do you know what I mean?

                So the ice cream/gelato touched the metal, that's still unacceptable. I understand, sometimes one is just fed up with having to argue about everything these days, it just doesn't seem worth it all the time.

                I haven't tried their gelato, but if I'm in the area I'll try it to form my own opinion (I don't know though, I don't like the service you received, we'll see). I live close to Weho, so I'm not sure that I'll be driving there anytime soon. I have yet to really try the gelato store in silver lake. I sampled it and really liked it, but it was too early for ice cream, well I had just had cheese at the cheese store so...

                1. re: bsquared2

                  Look at the negative press they are getting here and people are investing time to reply, it leaves an impression

              2. Sorry to hear about your experience, but I think Bulgarini is now the latest to fall prey to the Curse of the Chowhounders.

                When a place gets so pumped up on these boards, it almost never lives up to the hype.

                Lets' face it, as great as Bulgarini is (or might be), it is ONLY gelato after all.

                Gelato, no matter how great, will never be life altering.

                And lets face it, almost any restaurant or shop will have inevitable service issues.

                Still, it's too bad what happend to you.

                9 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I agree with you. This reminds me of when I went to Gerlach's Grill, after reading all the great reviews about it on Chowhound, and being bummed out. The fact that everyone I was eating with was unsatisfied and complaining also added to the bad experience at the time.

                  My experience at Bulgarini was very different. I truly loved every bite.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Now wait here just a minute missy (or mister). I usually respect people's opinions...but..."just gelato"? "Gelato....can never be life altering"? FOR SHAME! Italians and dessert-o-philes everywhere have it in for you!

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Only gelato? Well if we were in Italy maybe it'd be only (very good) gelato. But here it's pretty much the closest thing to good Italian gelato I've ever had, and that's pretty life altering for me. Besides, they've also got granita and sorbetto. So I have to say Bulgarini has been life altering.

                      I do feel bad for the OP, though, and would suggest giving it another try when it's not Memorial Day weekend. I myself was thinking about heading up there, but realized that the selection would probably be reduced to almost nothing.

                      1. re: mcmal

                        I stand corrected. There are some amazing ice creams, sorbets, raspados, granitas, frozen custards, and water ices out there. Thanks for the reminder!

                        1. re: running pig

                          I agree. Didn't want to single out Gelato. I would hop on a plane for some Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. I even went there in the middle of winter because I had to go to St. Louis for business. I would love to find a Frozen Custard shop as good as that one.

                          1. re: bsquared2

                            Silky Smooth at the Beverly Center is BETTER than Ted Drewes--they use the cleaner tasting custard mix from Wisconsin with pure cane sugar rather than honey, which gives Ted's EXCELLENT custard a little off taste IMHO.
                            Ted's is great, but ever been to Kopps or Leons in Milwaukee? Now THATS frozen custard heaven. Luckily, Silky Smooth is close by and is the real deal, with a lot more flavors than the midwest stands.
                            And, one more thing--Silky has adjusted to the California desire for health by using a 90% fat free yet still decadent tasting dairy mix imported from Wisconsin... http://www.yelp.com/biz/silky-smooth-...

                            1. re: culinarycandy

                              Carver's! Less than one month I will be eating some!! Yaa-hew!

                        2. re: mcmal

                          mcmal...after having done a pretty decent, well researched survey up and down the boot last year of gelaterias in italia, our opinion is BULGARINI is better than very good. probably not surprising as they studied with some of the best masters through italy and especially napoli. how fortunate we are to have them in the l.a. basin. it has been life altering for us (and our waist lines!).

                          1. re: revets2

                            I concur, it is better than very good. I won't say "very good" again. It could hold its own with the likes of Giolitti in Rome or any number of famous and excellent Italian gelaterias. It's excellent.