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GTA Gelato Wars 2012

We always go to La Paloma but truly enjoyed Il Gelatiere.
I know this goes along with the "best pizza" or "best burger" discussions.
DH LOVES pistachio, bright green, nutty flavour.

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  1. Have you tried the gelato at San Remo Bakery and at Dolce on Danforth Ave? Both have pistachio gelato that I like.

    4 Replies
    1. re: foodyDudey

      Personally I find both the pistachio and banana chocolate to be excellent at Boreal on Queen W.

      1. re: justsayn

        Never heard of Boreal. Will look them up too.

      2. re: foodyDudey

        Never been to either. I heard San Remo has excellent baked goods too.

        1. re: itryalot

          San Remo's awesome at everything. I quite like Arte Gelato near Bloor/Ossington. It's across the street from Bakerbots and has good flavours.

      3. Below is a list of gelaterias in TO

        La Paloma
        Il Gelatiere Artigianale
        .Gelato Simply Italian
        Mad Italian
        Hotel Gelato
        Hollywood Gelato
        Ed's Real Scoop
        Soma Chocolate
        Arte Gelato
        Carnevale Di Venezia
        Froshberg Gelato
        G for Gelato
        Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe
        The Village Scoop

        All of these are locations that I have frequented or at least heard about, however, there are probably more that do not immediately come to mind. Also, I am sure that there are a tonne of other bakeries and pasticcerias that will also sell gelato (e.g. San Remo, Nino D'Aversa, etc) but for now, this list should be enough to get you started.

        And my personal favourite is Gelato Simply Italian. It is one of the more expensive places, but given the quality, location, and the enthusiasm of the owner, I don't mind dropping a few coins here.

        19 Replies
        1. re: Lazar

          When it's on, Simply Italian's pistachio is the best, bar none. The freshness of the pistachios carries through so well and the vibrancy is in your face. Boreal, Soma, Ti Amo (Yonge north of Major Mac) - prolly in that order, from last year - are good too. il Gelatiere's may still be fine. Ventisette otherwise makes high quality versions like their chocolate and coffee, but pistachio was more of a whiff. Ed's has a good product. Hollywood is okay depending on which flavour. Arte sounds promising. La Paloma, Dolce, Sicilian Sidewalk and some of the others do not compare at all.

            1. re: Chester Eleganté

              Simply Italian - some place I need to visit in a month or so when I am there next. Pistachio is that good; looking forward to it.

              1. re: itryalot

                ..and the limone, and the caffe, and the non-dairy chocolate, and so on. basically the old gelatiere flavours.

                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                  LOVE the non-dairy dark chocolate at Simply Italian

            2. re: Lazar

              After reading all these reviews, I had to look it up - now I realize that's the place I've been to a couple of times on Yonge near Davisville (I think the "simply Italian" must be in smaller print - I only ever noticed the non-distinguishing name of "Gelato").

              I always get a little overwhelmed in gelato spots - many of the names and flavours aren't as familiar to me, never mind the range of options, and I usually take a lot more time to make my decision than in a regular ice cream joint (unless I default to my usual nocciola). Anyway, I've seen the owner and staff here get questioned a lot as to best combos and they take it very seriously - asking first a few questions to try and narrow down the options, then offering both more familiar and more curious combinations. They've yet to steer me wrong and you can sense their passion for the product. Last time, I had a dark chocolate gelato combined with a frutti di bosco yoghurt - fantastic.

              1. re: Lazar

                Lazar, the only one on this list that I haven't heard about yet is Carnevale Di Venezia. Since my husband is from around Venice, I would love to take him. Can you please give me some more info on where it is located and whether you liked it?

                1. re: icey

                  Hey icey, Carnevale Di Venezia is at 2494 Yonge St. Right next door to the Capitol Theatre. It is that small little place that you will miss if you blink while driving by it.

                  Unfortunately, it is one of the places on my list that I haven't yet tried (along with VentiSette, Boreal, Arte and Froshberg) so I can't give an opinion.

                  Also, I am biased, because I hold everything up to Simply Gelato as to what I consider the Toronto standard for quality, consistency, and flavour (we all know that it is one of the more pricier ones, so I won't even mentione it here). But, Simply Gelato is from Rome, so not sure if there will be a regional difference that your husband may enjoy more (sorry, I am not very well travelled)

                  1. re: Lazar

                    I had tried the pistachio at Carnevale Di Venezia (not sure it was called that then) many moons ago and it was the best that I had tasted. The gelato was a deep, woody-green pistachio nut colour (not fluorescent green) and the taste was very nutty and not too sweet. However, it seemed to me that the ownership had changed since then and I haven't been back, so the quality may not be the same. Also not sure if they make the gelato there.

                    1. re: Degustation

                      DH is a sucker for anything pistachio. Need to get some!

                    2. re: Lazar

                      Finally tried VentiSette. Very disappointed. Tried the Sicilian Blood Orange, and it tasted like a dried out orange, very little flavour. So opted for a small cup with Lemon and Chocolate. I am not quite sure how to describe the lemon. The flavour reminded me of that awful no-name lemon pie filling, and the consistency was "gooey". The chocolate was the real disappointment. The first taste was awesome for a split milli-second. A rich dark chocolate flavour that almost immediately dispersed from my tongue. It was replaced with an essence of what could have been chocolate. The worst thing was the consistency/texture. I don't know quite know how it can be done, but I would have thought it impossible for gelato to be dry. I mean really dry, chaulky even. I was left with the sensation of a mouthful of stale cocoa

                      Well, next up I plan to try Carnevale De Venezia, which I noticed has changed their name to Cafe Gelato, but they were closed yesterday.

                      1. re: Lazar

                        Il Gelatiere on Mount Pleasnt is as good (if not better than) Simply Gelato. in fact, Alessandro (of Simply) started out as a partner in Il Gelatiere before parting ways and opening his own joint.

                        For me, they both have the best gelato in terms of quality and consistency , but Il Gelatiere has more creative flavours and does smaller batches which means fresher product and faster flavour turns.

                        1. re: meatnveg

                          I've found Il G and Simply to be equally fresh product, apart from the rancid pine nuts I've encountered in the Maria at Il G last year. I think it was probably a result of using cheap pine nuts, and not tasting the nuts before making the batch. Hopefully they're tasting their nuts before each batch this summer.

                          My favourite fruit gelato this summer is the Passionfruit at Simply Italian. Pairs nicely with their chocolate.

                          I think I'm over spicy chocolate.

                          I also like the gelati at Soma, and like the fact you can drop any flavour into an espresso to make an affogato.

                    3. re: Lazar

                      Red Bean Espresso (High Park/Bloor)

                      They've been carrying Gelato since last summer.

                      1. re: Lazar

                        I have to mention my unfortunate service experience with Simply Italian - the gelato was great, we're just talking about the service here. So there's three of us and we go up to the display case to place our order (we just wanted take-out and weren't going to sit down). There's a group in front of us, and a group behind us. Two girls, Girl A and Girl B, are behind the counter.

                        The group in front of us gets served by Girl A, and they order a few espresso-based drinks for dine-in. Girl B asks, "Who's next?" I wave to her and say "hi". Girl B says, "She (Girl A) will serve you," and attends to the group behind us, who order gelato. We are puzzled, but say nothing.

                        Girl B finishes with her customers. It becomes clear that Girl A is still busy making lattes, so we try again to get served by Girl B. Girl B says again, "She (Girl A) will help you," and attends to the next group that has queued up behind us, who again order gelato. Now we are vexed and more than a bit annoyed.

                        Girl A is still making drinks. Girl B finishes with her second set of customers. Finally (on our third attempt to place our order), a member of my party says to Girl B, "Are you ready now? Can we get some service?" Girl B says nothing, but shrugs and nods. We place our orders, pay, take our gelato and get out of Dodge.

                        Did I miss something? I want to return to this place. The gelato was really good.

                        1. re: Wench Foraday

                          Was this the Yorkville or Davisville location? I've found the Davisville location to be less flaky.

                          1. re: prima

                            It was the Davisville location, and flaky is right...

                            1. re: prima

                              I've never had bad service at the Yorkville location. The guys there are very nice and as conversational as you want to be with them.

                              1. re: LTL

                                OK - will try Yorkville location next time (it's closer anyways)!

                        2. My personal go to's are "Il Gelatiere" and "Arte".

                          I was terribly disappointed w/ my one Boreal visit, overpriced and crystallized.

                          Never been to Simply Italian but will have to check it out as the summer approaches.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: aser

                            I second Il Gelatiere. Their nocciola gelato is ridiculous.

                          2. My favorite is Dessert Trends on Harbord. Every flavor I've tried is excellent.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: principessa del pisello

                              I have tried all the gelato places discussed above and all are good with different strengths but I am currently enjoying Ventisette. I find the 70% chocolate amazing (a strong chocolate flavour with a smooth finish) and the vanilla is the real thing with vanilla specks throughout (creamy and flavourful without being too bland). They only have a dozen selections so far but wil be adding a dozen more in the coming weeks with the increased demand. Am looking forward to trying the pistachio and coffee!

                            2. Venti Sette on Yonge Street at St. Germain is truly delicious, and the quality is top notch. This artisanal gelato is well worth a try. Here's the link to their website:

                              21 Replies
                              1. re: jillvis

                                I think Boreal has upped their game recently. I visited for the first time since last summer the other day, and tried the root beer and shortbread-rosemary. Both were amazing. Of course, I went with my staple of chocolate - and I'm a little disappointed when I get there and there's no Pistachio, but I think they've stepped up their game.

                                Worth another visit for sure.


                                1. re: justxpete

                                  Made a trip to Boreal recently and tried several flavours. All tasted overly sweet and 100% artificial. Didn't buy anything, and not planning to ever go back. Definitely NOT in the same league as the Romans (Gelatiere and Simply).

                                  1. re: ghostdogg

                                    I've stayed out of this thread so far as I haven't tried most of these places THIS year.
                                    That's because LAST year I felt that Il Gelatiere (and presumably Simply Italian - walked out twice as they didn't have flavours I liked) were using concentrates and commercial purees (as opposed to original ingredients). The texture (which I prize highly) seemed to have changed from prior years.
                                    Now that Dessert Trends (Bistro) has reopened, I'll have to get back there - they had the 'purest' flavours (although frankly the gelato itself wasn't made 'properly' - contained ice crystals).

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      I've been to Simply Italian several times this year, and I have liked their flavours and product better than what I was ordering at Il Gelatiere's last year. I guess I could return to Il G, to see if it has improved, but Simply Italian is more convenient for me, so that's unlikely unless I happen to be wandering around on Mt Pleasant. That being said, I usually stick to mint, tart fruit (raspberry, lemon, passionfruit) or darker chocolate flavours at both places. Simply's flavours vary greatly from visit to visit.

                                      I don't like pistachio gelato,so I never order it, and I don't tend to like the milky/creamy flavours, so I haven't ordered those flavours at Simply Italian.

                                      I will try out Venti Sette this weekend.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        I usually hate pistachio gelato and milky/creamy flavours as well but I love Simply's version. I heard they import their pistachios from Sicily; every mouthful is like eating a cold creamy spoonful of pistachios.

                                    2. re: ghostdogg

                                      Yeah, funny that. Some of the flavours at Boreal taste better than those I've had in Rome. I much prefer it over Gelatiere and Simply as well. Too each his own though - I know for a fact they don't use artificial flavouring, however - the rootbeer being the possibly only exception. I've never had a natural rootbeer though.

                                      1. re: justxpete

                                        "I know for a fact they don't use artificial flavouring"

                                        Well, I won't take your word for it. Having worked as a pastry chef in my earlier years, I know exactly what a sorbet made from fresh fruit tastes like, and I'm afraid Boreal doesn't fit the bill.

                                        1. re: ghostdogg

                                          Just a possible clarification here - there are various 'preparations' that fall between fresh fruit and artificial flavouring. The obvious one is commercial 'purees' (which is what I was referring to in my comment re Il Gelatiere) - which typically contain fruit (from fresh) along with preservatives - and often some form of sugar (and lemon juice).
                                          For me, the easiest product to tell has been 'pear' - where the fresh fruit has a texture that is characteristic.
                                          I haven't had the Boreal product so can't chime in there.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            Yes - there is a range between "100% artificial" (which I would take to mean no fruit at all) and "made from fresh, perfectly in season fruit".

                                          2. re: ghostdogg

                                            They are dedicated to all natural ingredients, fair trade products, local farmers, (wherever possible), etc. They are the last place that would taste "100% artificial". They even have cocoa nibs!

                                            1. re: justxpete

                                              Boreal is five minutes from my house, so I am one of those lucky people who have a neighbourhood gelateria. This may make me a little more forgiving of a disappointing experience than some, because it's easy for me to just pop by and try them again.

                                              I don't approach Boreal like a shop representing a century of Italian tradition so much as a new business akin to all the indie coffee shops of the last ten years. The owner has solid culinary background, probably loved making gelato and is learning and improving all the time.

                                              I can vouch that they have improved over the last year and are experimenting with flavours. I have had the occasional texture challenged batch or underwhelming flavour, but on the whole they put out a quality product.

                                              Faves I would recommend would include the Lemon Olive Oil Sorbet, Salted Caramel, Rosemary Shortbread, Coconut.

                                              Recently, I think they hit it out of the park with their Mojito - tons of lime flavour with real mint. I was especially happy about amount of zest that seemed to be included. Very refreshing during this recent heat.

                                              I can also second the Root Beer. It tasted closer to a Boylan's than an A&W.

                                              1. re: Pantz

                                                Do they make a plain mint gelato?

                                                1. re: prima

                                                  I seem to recall a mint chocolate/chip before, but never a plain one. I'll ask next time I'm in.

                                                  1. re: prima

                                                    I believe their flavours change often.

                                                    1. re: justxpete


                                                      Has anyone tried the house-made gelato at the I deal Coffee north of Lawrence? They're advertising it on a board, just a couple doors north of Venti Sette.

                                                      In case anyone likes granita, I noticed Venti Sette is advertising lemon and espresso granitas. http://ventisette27.com/home.html

                                          3. re: ghostdogg

                                            Bummer! Was meeting a friend for dinner in TO and had set our sights on Boreal. Now, double thinking. I just need a great pistachio and lemon and I'm all set.

                                            1. re: itryalot

                                              I'm still going to give Boreal a try this summer, even if they serve rootbeer gelato. ;-)

                                              Gelato really divides people on this Board.

                                              If you like pistachio, I'd head to Simply Italian first, because it has always been available when I've been there. Also, some places offer 2 types of pistachio- regular and Sicilian. I'm not a fan of pistachio gelato, so I haven't tried either version recently.

                                              1. re: prima

                                                Tonight, Simply Italian offered a Sicilian pistachio with Torrone (nougat) as well as their standard pistachio.

                                                They also had a roasted pineapple with cinnamon in addition to regular pineapple, a pear with reggiano in addition to the regular pear, avocado, lime coriander, and guava.

                                                My friend ordered the pear, and mentioned it had the slightly gritty texture one associates with pears.

                                                I tried the roasted pineapple with cinnamon, and the lime coriander. Both were interesting, and I'd definitely order the lime coriander again. The roasted pineapple with cinnamon had slightly stringy texture from bits of pineapple.

                                                1. re: prima

                                                  Just had to try the pear!
                                                  And as an aside I was impressed with the flavours at Simply Italian this time around (having walked out twice before as nothing appealed).
                                                  But which to choose? The simple 'pera' or the one with Reggiano?
                                                  Never having had the cheesy version before, that was where I ended up (sign on this says 'No Sample Tasting Available'). Probably a sign (for the future) that nobody then orders it!
                                                  The cheese does add some texture - but the overall flavour is jarring - would never order again. The pear taste was quite intense - more so than I expected - but the gelato texture WASN'T that of pear. On reflection, the colour was also too 'white'. So have to conclude that fresh pears weren't used - maybe uses the same supplier as Il Gelatiere (given the history), where I have regularly (in the past - don't get there much any more) suspected purees/commercial fruit.
                                                  Don't get me wrong - the commercial gelato ingredients are not, in and of themselves, strictly 'bad'.
                                                  But if I'm paying $30 Kg (approx a litre) for ice-cream (the price at Simply Italian and Il Gelatiere) then I want something 'fresh'. I can get good ice-cream elsewhere for far less (for example haven't bought recently, but Soma used to be about $20 and Xococava is about $15). And my favourite pear (Gelato Fresco) was about $10 - except only sold in 4.5 litre pails!

                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    Sorry to hear the pear with reggiano wasn't a delicious gelato, and the texture wasn't that of fresh pear.

                                                    Did they offer you 2 flavours? I always get 2 flavours in my small cup, to better my chances of a winner, especially if I'm trying flavours I haven't tried before. I believe the medium comes with a choice of up to 3 flavours.

                                                    Don't let the "no sample" sign necessarily deter you. The Fondente- no latte (dairy-free chocolate) is a "no sample" gelato, and it's very good.

                                      2. Went to Boreal tonight.

                                        I make quiet a bit of ice cream myself and experiment with unusual flavours so I was excited to see the flavour options available for gelato. I had the Boreal Balsam and the Rosemary Shortbread.

                                        I had made a fir ice cream before and I actually liked the Balsam from Boreal better. I think I will try with Balsam next time. I enjoyed the Rosemary Shortbread too. However, as others mentioned in other threads (and maybe in this one) it is expensive/small portion. I won't be going on a regular basis but still will be back to try some other flavours.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: ylsf

                                          A brief mea culpa and apology to those concerned: earlier I complained about my poor experience with Boreal when in fact, I have never been to that store. The place I was trying to describe is called Arte Gelato, on Bloor West. For some reason, the names got confused in my mind.

                                          1. re: ghostdogg

                                            Thanks for coming back to post your correction.

                                            Definitely didn't taste artificial to me and I had forgotten about your earlier comment until I went back in the thread to see your post.

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              No problem. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll get a chance to try Boreal, it's really out of my way.

                                              I've been a frequent visitor of Simply Italian this summer. The quality of their product blows me away every time (had a wicked plum gelato, the other day). Too bad about the premium prices.

                                            2. re: ghostdogg

                                              that explains it - thanks for posting a correction, GD!


                                          2. Is it me? Il gelatiere seems to have gotten more "airy". I prefer my gelato dense rich and velvety. Lately my preference goes to soma.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                              I've never understood how Il Gelatiere survives - although, to be fair, I never ever go there anymore.
                                              Love the Soma chocolate ices - but don't find good value in their other offerings. Used to love Dessert Trends - but goot out of the habit of going when they closed for renovations. Maybe time to try again.
                                              And (yet again) my favourites available 'commercially' are Gelato Fresco and Haagen Dazs.