Gelateria Almare, Berkeley
I usually find that, compared to the gelato I get in Italy, the products I find here either lack in taste or have the wrong texture. Gelato is supposed to be smooth and soft, more similar to the texture of frozen yogurt than the one of ice cream. So, I have very rarely found a gelato that satisfies my taste, although I have found many ice creams that I really, really like (for example, Ici in Elmwood, The Creamery in Palo Alto, and so on).
This weekend I made a trip to Berkeley with the specific intent to try the new Gelateria Almare, in the spot previously called Gelato Milano. I liked Gelato Milano, and I was a bit wary about the change in ownership, although I found out that it was taken over by a friend of a friend, who comes from Italy from a family of gelatieri.
I LOVED this gelato. It tasted "right"- the flavor, the texture, everything was what I expect gelato to be! Gelato usually comes in two kinds- the cream-based flavors, like chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut, where no "freeze-iness" should be found since little to no water should be used- only milk or cream. The other kind is fruit-based flavors, where cream is usually substituted for water, and that have a bit of a more sorbet-ish texture. I like the cream based flavors myself, so trying out flavors like chocolate and hazelnut is the way I judge my gelato.
My experience with Gelato Almare was just great. I had stracciatella (a vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips), hazelnut and gianduja (a creamier version of a hazelnut spread), while my husband tried vaniglia and cherry (which is not a fruit-based gelato in Italy, I don't know why!). All were fantastic- creamy, rich, non-frozen and the taste was delicious! There was only one very small problem, which is that the temperature at which the ice cream is kept was a little too low, inhibiting some of the flavors. This is a known issue, as the previous "gelato consultant" at Gelato Milano had told me about the display case temperature not being ideal. I could barely tell at Almare, though, and I am sure glad to have found such a great gelato!
Once again, let me say that you might enjoy this gelato or not, but I want to attest to its originality, and the fact that taste and texture are as close as possible to the ones you'd find in Italy. Buon appetito!
The server told me they haven't changed much that Milano was doing except they're using a pistachio mix that costs four times as much. I tasted a few gelatos. Pistachio I liked less (didn't like Milano's, either), others seemed about the same, nocciola was pretty good. Sorbetti were always my favorite at Milano.