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my first taste of Oakland's Flavor Brigade -- amazing ice cream

escargot3 Aug 1, 2010 10:51 PM

To all you ice cream fans and Italian ices fans: get thee to the Flavor Brigade on Fruitvale Ave in Oakland. They're making incredible ice cream from Strauss's organic milk. I tried a double of the coffee ice cream and strawberry -- it was truly great.

and the Italian ices -- as someone said here recently -- is the Real Deal.

They gotta improve the signage (hard to see from the street), and PR, so folks will give 'em the business they deserve.

And as if that's not enough -- there's a spacious parking lot right there.

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Flavor Brigade
3540 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602

  1. i
    IanW Aug 2, 2010 09:01 AM

    This place is great. I have been here a couple of times with my daughter and their ice cream compares with the other more popular high-end shops in the East Bay. I especially like their Italian Ices as I am lactose intolerant and have great memories of eating these as a child.

    1. a
      abstractpoet Aug 2, 2010 09:56 AM

      Sounds great. I don't know Philly-style water ice, but it sounds kind of similar to Rita's Ice in New Jersey. Any East Coasters know if that's an apt comparison?

      My favorite thing to get at Rita's is the "gelati", which isn't gelato at all, but rather a layer of custard sandwiched between two layers of ice. Maybe something like the "2nd Street" on the Flavor Brigade menu?

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      Flavor Brigade
      3540 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602

      10 Replies
      1. re: abstractpoet
        myst Aug 2, 2010 11:12 AM

        I tried this over the weekend. Signage is terrible and we went way off route to try the frozen custard only to be told the machine was broken. So had to settle for lemon water ice, which was tasty, but still disappointing trip.....have to be sure the machine is up and running before we try again!

        1. re: myst
          escargot3 Aug 2, 2010 07:32 PM

          It's true, it's easy to drive right past the place even when you're looking for it.
          I actually contacted them and suggested they improve on that.

          and yes, it is so frustrating when you go out of your way to try a new place, only to be disappointed by circumstances.

          1. re: myst
            a
            abstractpoet Aug 21, 2010 05:12 PM

            We finally made it over to Flavor Brigade today after several aborted attempts (you know, it getting to 7 o'clock and us realizing that it was freezing outside and would be crazy to go out for an ice). Glad we finally made it, though.

            The owner is an extremely friendly guy, in that distinctly East Coast kind of way, and it turns out that the "2nd Street" is more or less the same thing as the Rita's "gelati" that I know and love: a layer of ice (flavor of your choice--I got the classic lemon) sandwiched between the frozen "custard", which is kind of like a really thick and creamy soft-serve ice cream. The ice was really refreshing and not overly sweet, and the custard was delicious, though the texture was a little bit off (slightly grainy?) because he actually isn't serving it from the soft-serve machine anymore--said that he had to throw out a huge batch every day because no one was ordering it. I guess people out here just don't know what it is. Now he's just serving scoops of it, like ice cream. He was doing a few different flavors of the custard at first, too, but now it's just the vanilla.

            Anyway, I highly recommend that folks try the custard (at least ask for a taste!) -- especially in the "2nd Street". It's $2.49 for a small cup, but it's a really generous portion. My wife and I each got our own, but in the future we might even just share a small. The $0.99 "flavor of the day" is also a great deal. The owner said he might make the custard the daily special next week in order to really push it, just so people know what it is. Hopefully if the demand goes up, he can start serving it from the machine again.

            He makes all the ices in-house and mentioned that the Rainbow Italian Ice (on Lakeshore) is buying most of their ice from him now too.

            Now if we can get some great bagels in the East Bay, then there won't be a single reason for me to go back to Jersey, ever. Well, friends and family, blah blah blah. =)

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            Rainbow Italian Ice - CLOSED
            3272 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

            Flavor Brigade
            3540 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602

            1. re: abstractpoet
              PegS Aug 21, 2010 05:18 PM

              Thanks. I forgot to report back when we went a few weeks ago. I also indulged in the 2nd Street (with lemon ice, of course!) and, at that time, they were still using machine. It's a crying shame they were tossing so much away, because it really was incredible--so *clean* tasting. We'll probably hit them again tonight and I'll be curious to see how the texture has changed.

              1. re: abstractpoet
                myst Aug 23, 2010 06:59 AM

                Hmmm. I drove all the way over there one day to try the custard and he said the machine was broken. Probably just was not using it due to the demand issue. Hard to drum up demand if it is not available or pre-frozen and grainy......

                1. re: myst
                  a
                  abstractpoet Aug 23, 2010 11:43 AM

                  He said it's only been this past weekend that he started not using the machine (aside from whatever mechanical issues there may have been a couple weeks ago).

                  In any case, I still found the custard to be very good (even if the texture wasn't perfect) and would definitely order it again, even if it isn't out of the machine.

                  1. re: abstractpoet
                    PegS Aug 24, 2010 04:30 PM

                    We *did* go this past weekend, and although the custard wasn't quite as creamy as out of the machine, it was still perfectly satisfactory.

                    1. re: PegS
                      b
                      BrianJC Sep 12, 2010 10:48 AM

                      It looks like the machine is working again. I stopped by this weekend to try the Italian Ice, which I've never had before. I went for the 2nd Street, which was very good. My partner had the Coconut special of the day, which I may have actually liked more.

                      Between this, Farmer Joe's, The Bay Leaf, La Farine, and some other decent places, Dimond district seems to be on a culinary upswing.

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                      La Farine
                      6323 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                      Bay Leaf Restaurant
                      122 S Sunnyvale Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

            2. re: abstractpoet
              j
              Jason Kwong Aug 3, 2010 06:18 PM

              Braedon (the owner) can actually make it like Rita's if you want. Of course it would require you ordering more than just a scoop. Just ask and he can do it.

              1. re: Jason Kwong
                m
                macadam Aug 15, 2010 07:16 PM

                Son and I went there this afternoon. We live in the area and had a feeling it was a former Baskin Robbins near the Safeway. FYI, there is a free parking lot in back if you're afraid of the Meter Nazis. We were offered tastings of anything without asking. I decided on the Cherry Italian Ice, and received a generous cupful and it was so tasty and the portion was large. Son had a large waffle cone with Cookie Dough and Blueberry Honey Graham Cracker--delicious! Products are made on site, fresh fruit in the fruit items. Gal at the counter today is a friend of the owner, and super-nice and informative about the product.
                A great addition to the neighborhood; we have been frequenting the new Yogafina in Montclair, but I like the option of the Italian ice and really good ice cream!

            3. m
              Martin Strell Sep 19, 2010 02:21 PM

              For Alamedans, I noticed that Yo' Philly on Park Street has a sign up saying "Proudly Serving Flavor Brigade Italian Ice".

              I stopped by Flavor Brigade about a month ago and tried their chocolate Italian ices. I'm from back east, and I love chocolate ices, but their version was a bit watery to me.

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              Flavor Brigade
              3540 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602

              1. h
                hilrock Sep 20, 2010 07:44 AM

                Had a "2nd Street" with peach water ice and that wonderful frozen custard this weekend.
                Like an amazing peach creamcicle! This place is really a find.

                1. z
                  zhawna Nov 13, 2010 05:26 PM

                  Alas, Flavor Brigade seems to be no more. I arrived at their doorway on Thursday around 3:30 to find them closed. A large sheet of plywood was visible as well as a small, unplugged beverage cooler, which contained soda cans and custard mix in cartons. I hope I'm mistaken but...

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                  Flavor Brigade
                  3540 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: zhawna
                    c
                    chomper1 Nov 17, 2010 12:52 PM

                    Sorry for the incovenience, we were burglarized. It took 4 days to reopen. We are back up and running. Also we purchased a new custard machine. (Rainy days or exceptionally cold days we will not be running soft serve, custard, only scooped).
                    Thanks for your support
                    Braedon(owner)

                    1. re: chomper1
                      Ruth Lafler Nov 17, 2010 12:53 PM

                      I'm sorry you were burglarized, but I'm glad that's the only reason you were shut down!

                      1. re: chomper1
                        jillyju Nov 17, 2010 04:41 PM

                        Like Ruth, I'm very sorry you were burglarized, but I'm quite relieved to hear you are still in business. The thought of your loss made me regret not coming by more often.

                        1. re: chomper1
                          a
                          annec Nov 17, 2010 06:41 PM

                          There is lots of new, clear signage as well. Much easier to see when driving down Fruitvale.

                          1. re: chomper1
                            escargot3 Nov 17, 2010 07:53 PM

                            BUMMER!
                            So sorry to hear you were burglarized. And like Ruth, very relieved to hear that you are back in business. I love your ice cream.
                            And also glad to hear -- for your sake -- the signage is improved.
                            And it's so great that there's a huge free parking lot adjacent.

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