Tubs of Gelato (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Gelato, the cold Italian treat, has hit the American palate big time. Its creamy, delicious texture and intense flavor are what separates this gelateria-style delicacy from ice cream, which legally contains more fat and air than gelato. Unlike ice cream, gelato is never frozen and served at warmer temperatures, so gelato’s amazing, rich flavors ignite the taste buds — one scoop is never enough. Here are five North Bay spots for excellent gelato.
572 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA 94960
In business for years, San Anselmo Gelato is family owned and operated and prides itself on being a community institution. Conveniently located in downtown San Anselmo, the shop always has 21 gelato flavors and three sorbets on hand to satisfy just about anyone’s flavor cravings. The shop also serves ice cream and frozen yogurt, so all taste and texture favorites are covered. Stop by for a free taste of any flavor and you’ll be hooked.
17 E. Blithedale Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
In the heart of downtown Mill Valley, Noci Gelato is a convenient refueling spot for Marin summertime wanderings and shopping at the town’s trendy shops. Noci is an organic, artisanal shop that is proud of its from-scratch gelato, using 100 percent organic ingredients as local as possible, and preparation methods that blend key traditional techniques with some of Noci’s own unique methods, producing a gelato that is lower in fat than traditional ice creams. The flavors are intense, as is the enjoyment. Since Noci makes gelato and sorbetto daily from local and seasonal ingredients, new flavors are added often. Check here for a sample flavor list. Noci can cater your party or special event, using the famous Noci bicycle and its staff to serve its gelato. Visit the website for details.
Toby’s Feed Barn
11250 Highway 1
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Toby’s Barn Feed in the heart of main town Point Reyes Station has a new neighbor stationed in its store: the Cielo Gelato kiosk, drawing in the crowds for all of the right reasons. The gelato here is made from a most special ingredient — water buffalo milk. The buffalo milk comes from the Double 8 Dairy in West Petaluma, a small buffalo dairy that is getting a lot of well-earned attention these days. Every day, Double 8 Dairy milks its buffalo herd, which allows the dairy folk to make an exceptional handcrafted gelato that is rich and sweet and unlike any other gelato you have ever tasted. Right now, Toby’s is the only place to buy a fresh Cielo Gelato treat, and in May, Double 8 Dairy began selling pints of Double 8 Farmstead Gelato in select grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. For exceptional enjoyment, the best places to try Cielo Gelato are at one of the fine restaurants that serve it. Check here for locations.
670 Main St.
Napa, CA 94559
A classic Italian café on the Riverfront in Napa, Frati Gelato Café serves simple yet enjoyable quality foods. Frati Gelato Café is more than its authentic, artisan gelato, the centerpiece of the café. Frati Gelato is low fat, low cholesterol and low sodium, and a true Italian delicacy, plus Frati Sorbetto, at less than 100 calories a serving, is lactose-free and fat-free. Master gelato maker, Dr. Anthony LuPriore handcrafts the gelato here daily, which Frati Gelato Cafe will cater to weddings, holiday parties, corporate events and just about anything else where gelato will fit in perfectly. Also here are authentic Italian panini, coffee and espresso drinks, Italian pastries, wine, beer and soft drinks. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Frati Gelato Café serves Bruschette (small plates) with toppings from villages around the Tuscany, Umbria and Amalfi regions. Stop by Frati Gelato Café to try one of everything. Click here for the amazing gelato and sorbetto flavors that rotate availability at Frati Gelato Cafe.
3100 Kerner Blvd., Suite HH
San Rafael, CA 94901
Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato was founded in 1982 by Fiorello Anthony (Tony) Bonviso who wanted to introduce to the Bay Area unfamiliar though delicious treats – luscious gelato and scrumptious sorbets. Tony’s main focus has always been to develop and produce a distinctive gelato in delicious, unique flavors. Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato products are intensely flavorful and densely enjoyable with a silky texture. Tony has formulated more than 200 custom flavors at the request of culinary professionals, and he has earned the respect of numerous restaurateurs, business professionals and personal customers as well. Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato, in flavors such as Coconut Almond Chip, Old Kentucky Butter Pecan, Pistachio and Tony Spumoni to name a few, is sold through top name retailers in the Bay Area, including Whole Foods Market in Mill Valley, Petaluma Market in Petaluma and Marinwood Market in San Rafael, plus additional North Bay locations. Visit the website for all retail locations.
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.