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Review: Lombardo's Gelato, Glendale AZ

  • j

And you thought I had nerves of steel posting about Burger King on the General Topics board ;-)

I got to meet a friend for lunch over in Glendale today. We were driving around Arrowhead Towne Center when I realized that the area is quite the challenge for a Chowhound. We quickly realized that there were an awful lot of people willing to wait a long time for things. I decided that it might be a good idea to have lunch later so that we wouldn't have to compete with the throngs of people all over the place, and so we went to the mall itself to kill some time. While walking around, I saw a little gelato stand. How could I possibly not try it out?

When I approached the freezer case, I was thrilled to see that they made the signs for the various flavors in Italian, with the English name directly below it. The girl behind the counter, Ciara, was a perfect example of how people should treat their guests. She was passionate about the product, very friendly, and just made you feel like you've known her for ages. I was most amused by her attempts to barter gelato for my friend's hat. We also got to meet the mom behind the mom-and-pop store, BeBe Lombardo. I can see where Ciara got her spark; BeBe is a warm, caring lady who makes you feel right at home and forget that you're in the middle of a busy shopping mall, and is every bit as passionate about the gelato as Ciara (and I'd be willing to bet that the rest of the Lombardo family is too). It was very, very nice to see that they aren't miserly with the samples. Ciara even made suggestions of unexpected flavor combinations and backed up their deliciousness with a sample of both on the same spoon.

While I'm genuinely pleased to find a place that offers incredible service, the food that accompanies the service had better be good. Boy, did the Lombardo clan ever deliver the goods! I went with a combination that Ciara recommended, mango sorbetto and horchata gelato, and added on the white chocolate hazelnut to enjoy on its own. My friend did a similar idea with the pineapple sorbetto and coconut gelato (again a recommendation from Ciara), and the same white chocolate hazelnut gelato as a sidecar. Everything was positively phenomenal. I was a bit skeptical of the horchata/mango combination, but the two go together like Fred and Ginger. (Oooo, ginger gelato... I may have to try that at home some time...) The mango gelato was lush with the flavors of fresh ripe mangoes, the horchata a perfect translation of the delicious rice milk with cinnamon into a frozen treat, and the white chocolate hazelnut was pure decadence on a spoon. My friend's pineapple and coconut followed the trend, with the pineapple tasting very fresh, and the coconut had lots of coconut mixed throughout. I'll have to take some of each home to blend with rum for piƱa coladas some time. I look forward to trying out things like the straciatella, pistachio, and cherry chocolate chip. I greatly enjoyed everything about my visit to the Lombardos' shop, and can hardly wait until the next time that I can make my way to the northwest Valley to say hello to the Lombardo clan again.

I have a feeling that more than a few of you are wondering how Lombardo's Gelato compares with the other places I've tried. I can confidently say that Lombardo's is *the* best gelato I have had in Phoenix. The next time I get a craving for gelato, I will seriously consider driving all the way from Tempe to 75th Ave and Bell. Good news for everyone in the east valley, they're planning on opening a second location at Fiesta Mall some time in the next few months.

Oh, one more thing... as my friend and I were singing the praises of Lombardo's to a friend of his, another mall patron had mentioned that somewhere in north Scottsdale, he had enjoyed gelato that was even better than Lombardo's. The mind reels.

Lombardo's Gelato
Arrowhead Towne Center, 75th Ave and Bell Rd, Glendale AZ
Food: 5
Service: 6 (Congratulations, you deserve it!)
Atmosphere: 4 (looked very nice for a stand in the middle of the mall, and spotlessly clean)
Overall: 5
Price: 1 (Cheap eats, cost here ranges $2-6)
Value: 3
Kid Friendly: 4
Open During: L, D (regular mall hours)

Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

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  1. i

    Horchata gelato sounds great. I'll probably wait until they open in Fiesta Mall to try them though.

    Link: http://www.iamjacksbrain.com/

    1. i

      Oh yeah, isn't stracciatella Italian chicken soup?

      2 Replies
      1. re: IamJacksBrain
        JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        You are correct. I've made the soup before, and it is delicious. The reason that they share the same name is that they both share a preparation technique. For stracciatella soup, eggs are drizzled into chicken broth as the broth is being stirred. Stracciatella gelato has melted chocolate drizzled into gelato while the gelato is being churned, which turns the chocolate into little bits.

        Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

        1. re: IamJacksBrain
          Patricia Louise Farley

          I stumbled upon Lombardo's today at the mall. WOW!!! Was I impressed! I was in Italy last summer and this was as good, if not better, than most of the gelato I had between Venice and Rome. The decadence is incomparable! I tasted the chocolate (double WOW!), white chocolate hazelnut, coffee chocolate chip, sweet cream (I've died and gone to heaven!), and the best of all, white chocolate strawberry! I have never, in my whole life, had strawberry anything that was as good as this. It was not cheap, but I will now be a regular at Lombardo's ANY TIME I have to go to Costco, Sam's, or anywhere else even remotely close to Arrowhead mall. I brought home a pint, which was three flavors, for $7. Next time, it will be the quart!!!!!

        2. Thanks for the review. I'll eat/drink horchata anything..a lif elong love affair with the stuff.

          Wow, so gelato is the new black, eh? It's everywhere these days. I ate gelato what seemed like 4-5 times a week when I was working in Brazil, and I haven't made time to visit any of the local shops that have popped up lately.

          I'm adding it to my list.


          1. s
            Seth Chadwick

            Great review, JK! It is good to see some things opening up in the West Valley.

            The Horchata Gelato is definitely on my list to try.

            And, you got to get the BK taste out of your mouth with something really wonderful.

            1. >> ... another mall patron had mentioned that somewhere in north Scottsdale...

              I'm sure it was not The Gelato Spot branch (7366 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ), but I happened to be in that neighborhood, and found they were giving out free scoops. They claim to giving out free scoops tomorrow, too. Wednesday they open for real. I really wanted to buy a larger portion, but it wasn't being offered.

              BTW, I think the G Spot has a bit of an ice crystal problem.

              I tried Lombardo's on Saturday. It was good, but, they're all good, to me!

              Link: http://www.gelatospot.com/

              1 Reply
              1. re: John Seberg

                The north gelato place may be "That's Amore" off Pinacle Peak. I think it is great that the gelato topic sparks everybody up, but my favorite is what it is. I still think a blind taste off is the way to go.

              2. Good news for East Valley Hounds, the Fiesta Mall location is NOW OPEN!!! It's on the top floor just outside Sears. Easiest parking will be the parking area between Sears and the old Robinson's-May location, parking at the main mall entrance close to Sears. I went there today, BeBe Lombardo was there, and the gelato is as good as ever. The lemon sorbet was the most perfect tasting lemon sorbet; the consistency was a wee bit off, likely because it demands a good deal of sugar to the point that it almost won't freeze.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  Thanks for the update JK. I've been waiting for them to open in Fiesta.

                2. What a super OP and responses. Started thinking it is worth a trip!

                  1. HMMM Just last month I tried Arlecchino and thought I had found perfection especially in the chocolate hazelnut with wild cherries flavor. I only go through Phoenix occasionally so now I'm torn. Guess I'll have a go at this. Maybe tomorrow as we are on our way to Tucson.
                    OH Would the Fiesta Mall or Arrowhead be the better location I'm cruising through to Tucson?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Teya

                      Both are right off of their respective freeways, so it just comes down to which one is an easier jaunt off your main path. I just looked up all the stats on Google Maps, and Fiesta Mall will be the better one of the two unless you're going to take a trip up the 93 to Kingman or Vegas, in which case Arrowhead Towne Center is right on your path. You may wish to get lunch too- hop off the 10 at Chandler Blvd and go east to Dobson for Chino Bandido for the wildest lunch plate combos the world has ever seen, or get off the 10 at Warner and go down to Dobson for delicious and inexpensive banh mi at Lee's Sandwiches.

                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                        I have eaten at Lee Lee's and Chino. Loved 'em both but hubby had a reaction to something when we ate at Chino's. He's very sensitive to preservatives. The problem is we ate at the gelato place across from Chinos after lunch and we aren't sure which place he had the issues with. Nothing bothers my cast iron stomach:o) We are thinking of going to Kohnies this time through. Hoping we aren't too late for scones

                    2. I think that's a tough call. My first thought was Fiesta Mall, but, I can see where the Arrowhead Mall might actually be a little easier. You can just take I-101 West off of I-17 in N. Phoenix and get off on Union Hills or Bell, and you're pretty close to the Mall. Then, just get back on the 101, and go South until you hit I-10 East/South.

                      You can trust the various mapping services for both of these addresses:

                      Fiesta Mall: 1445 W Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ
                      Arrowhead Mall: 7800 W Arrowhead Towne Centre, Glendale AZ

                      At Arrowhead, Lombardo's is on the 2nd Floor in the aisle. It's pretty close to the center, just a little West of the main food court. I think there is an Under Armour store close.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: johnseberg

                        Sounds like Arrowhead then. Thanks for the addresses. MMMMMMMM Gelato. May have to stop at Archellino's on the way back home for a taste test between the two. I love horchata but those wild Italian cherries at llino's are to live for

                        1. re: Teya

                          Okay, I changed my mind. If you're going to Kohnies, first, then the Fiesta Mall is the better choice.

                          Kohnies: 4233 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                      2. Teya,

                        Scones are best in the AM or you can order them frozen and bake them yourself at home

                        Molto E