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Aug 30, 2007 10:01 AM

Best Gelato in San Francisco?

Who would you vote for as having the best gelato in the area and what flavor is your favorite. We will be visiting next week and staying near Union Square. Anywhere close by? Thanks.

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  1. We just went to Tango Gelato yesterday afternoon and had some mighty tasty flavors -- I had the coconut and chip gelato and my fiance had the almond vanilla ... so delicious!

    2015 Fillmore Street
    San Francisco, CA 94115 Telephone: (415) 346-3692

    Also, I haven't been there, but everyone I know recommends the Ferry Building. There's a little gelato place, I'm not sure of the name.

    Both places would be easy for you to get to from Union Square.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lexcre8

      The one in the Ferry Building is a branch of the chain Ciao Bella. Its not very good, so I wouldn't go out of my way to go there.

      1. re: chemchef

        I think Ciao Bella's pretty good, but that's a discussion for the Chains board.

        Sad to waste appetite and calories on any national chain when visiting SF.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I agree. Also, I think the stuff you can buy at the grocery store from Ciao Bella is ok, but every time I've been to the outlet in the Ferry Bldg I've found it to be grainy and overly sweet. Definitely not gelato quality!

    2. There's no all-round great gelateria around here these days, though there are some incredible artisanal ice cream shops (Bi-Rite in SF, Ici and Sketch in Berkeley).

      For gelato, my favorites are:

      Gelato Classico (almond, pistachio)

      La Copa Loca

      Milano in Berkeley (mango, lemon, grapefruit sorbetti), right by downtown BART station

      I find Tango and Naia (each has several locations) too sweet and one-dimensional.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Sketch is the best gelato in Berkeley and possibly in SF too, in my opinion.

        1. re: chemchef

          I agree with the sentiment that Sketch offers some of the best frozen dessert in the Bay Area (olive oil and salt soft serve at Picco is a close second). However, I wouldn't call their stuff gelato, because the butterfat is too high. Sketch resides in a delicious limbo between gelato and ice cream.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            Sketch is not high butterfat or am I misunderstanding you? Whole milk, no eggs, no cream.

            1. re: wally

              They use Strauss whole milk, which is creamier than most milk, but less creamy than cream. Their BF content is 6-7%. Gelato is generally 4-5%, ice cream is 8-12%. So it's not quite gelato, and not quite ice cream, but oh so good.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                I was just quoting what they told me. In general, gelato is made with whole milk and ice cream with a mixture of milk and cream or just cream, never mind the technicalities.

                1. re: chemchef

                  Technicalities aside, the texture of Sketch's ice cream is not very similar to gelato. That's why I call it ice cream. Also, the store is called Sketch Ice Cream, not Sketch Gelato.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          I wasn't a huge fan of La Copa Loca when I went was fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there, especially since Bi-Rite creamery is pretty close by. I realize that Bi-Rite's ice cream is very different than gelato, but unless there is some reason that it *must* be gelato (and not ice cream) I would head to Bi-Rite before any of the gelato places in San Francisco.

          Dave MP

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I agree about Milano in Berkeley and Naia. Milano has a wonderfully creamy gelato with sophisticated tastes. Naia has turned too sweet for me.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Coppa Mista (almond & pistachio) at Gelato Classico is my all time favorite ice cream. However, I always get 1/2 coppa mista & 1/2 bavarian mint (just can't resist that combo). Have also bought their ginger ice cream to serve with chocolate dessert for parties. Thanks to Robert's rec of La Copa Loca, will have to give it a try.

              1. re: ceekskat

                Ah, yes, Coppa Mista is my favorite flavor from Classico also.

                Here's my update post on La Copa Loca from last summer. At that time, i still liked the fruit flavors best.

                La Copa Loca
                3150 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Funny, I really enjoy Naia and avoid Milano. (Berkeley)

              3. In the City, maybe Emporio Rulli, though the SF location has far fewer flavors than the Larkspur mother ship. Depending on what you consider gelato, the density (but high butterfat) of Citizen Cake's ice creams is gelato-like. For Asian flavors, Marco Polo on Taraval and VIP Bakery on Broadway both do a very good job.

                Last year's ice cream/gelato roundup -

                Citizen Cake
                399 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe
                2300 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream
                1447 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

                VIP Coffee & Cake Shop
                Broadway St, San Francisco, CA, USA

                7 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  there's a gelato place on 24th and sanchez in noe - i can't recall the name...the one time i had hazelnut gelato it was great - but i'm not sure if that was luck...have others tried this place?

                  1. re: sfoperalover

                    I believe Belgano scoops Ciao Bella gelato.

                    Belgano Chocolatier Gelateria
                    3901 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    Even though it isn't gelato, because it is so similar, given the OP's location I would vote for Citizen Cake. I love that place. The flavors are always changing so I can't recommned one. Lots of tastes available and ask the person at the counter. They've always been on spot with me as far as recommendations ... and while there get some pate de fruit to take home.

                    I am just not a fan of Copa Loca and only think it worthy because it is the only gelato shop in the Mission. I am even less thrilled with it since Gelato Firenze just opened.

                    This won't help the OP, but I recommend anyone in the East Bay to stop by and try this new place near the Grand Lake Theatre.

                    While this might not mean alot on Chowhound Firenze has something I've never seen on Yelp before (as of this post) ... a solid five stars ... and so far I really agree. Get the cherry, my favorite so far. Supposedly the super chocolate is good ... I'm going for that next ... combined with the cherry.

                    1. re: rworange

                      La Copa Loca is the closest I've found to an average everyday Italian gelateria. It's not world-class but the owner / gelato-maker is Italian and has not Americanized (or Taiwanized) his product.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yeah, but that doesn't make it good. That's like being in Italy and finding soft serve thats close to Carvel. Authentic, sure, but some of us don't like it.

                        Hope you try the new Oakland place out. There were one or two of the typical reviews about the poster traveling from one end of Italy to another and .... blah, blah, blah ... this matches the best they've had. Don't know the posters so who knows.

                        Not that I want to put Copa Loca down. I think it serves the neighborhood well and hope it lives long and prospers. Just don't think it is worth going out of the way for.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                      Thumbs up for Marco Polo, especially for the tropical fruit flavored gelatos. Yes, yes, durian gelato is available. Lychee, sesame seed, pistachio, mango, coconut, and others are favorites as well.

                    3. Ciao Bella's fresh mint chip is my fave! It might be a national brand but it still tastes great.

                      1. Cici in Mill Valley is excellent. All organic and locally owned. Only complaint is that it is served just a bit too frozen...

                        Cici Gelateria
                        17 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941