Disclaimer: I'm no expert, just another picky Italian
How do you even begin to start talking about gelato without your mouth immediately starting to water? In the ten seconds that I've been writing this, I've already chosen a gelato place that I'm going to visit later this week, and I've actually planned that particular day around it in my head. What can I say? It's true love.
I'm no expert, but for some annoying reason, I'm very particular about my gelato. It's one of those things where once you've tasted perfection, you'll always be looking for it. Since then, I've created my own mental checklist for every time I try a new gelato shop. I look for buttery texture, real ingredients (not the artificial extracts), colour, and this might sound crazy, but I even look at the serving materials (that's right, i'm talking about the scooper). Here's an example: If a bite of my gelato resembles a melting ice cube, I'm out! Anywhere that serves you watery gelato is not the place anyone should want to revisit. Now, ingredients and colour pretty much go hand in hand. Here's my trick: I will typically always order pistachio gelato if I'm trying out a new place because I'll be able to tell right away if it's authentic, using fresh ingredients, and has any potential of me coming back. If you look at the tub, and the gelato is lime green, RUN -you know that gelato was made with artificial pistachio extract, and food colouring. With that being said, you always want to look for a pale pistachio green because it's pretty hard to fake, and you know it can only come from the good stuff. Alright, now for some reason, I've paid a bit more attention to this last key indicator over the past few years, and it has failed me only maybe twice. The serving tools a gelato shop uses says it all. Majority of places in Italy serve their gelato using a stainless steel paddle. They're used to soften the gelato on the sides of the tub before serving in a cup or cone. I can think of a few instances where I've gone to a "gelato shop" only to see perfectly round ice cream scoops, and I just knew I was going to get a spoonful of disappointment.
Here are my favourite gelato places in Toronto that are open all year round:
Hotel Gelato: I've been going to Hotel Gelato since it opened, and I've also had the privilege of getting to know the owners as family friends. Hotel Gelato has the perfect mix between classics like hazelnut and pistachio, and flavours that are on trend like the #6ix, and spicy mayan chocolate. My favourites: Espresso, Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Lemon Ricotta, and Pumpkin! http://www.hotelgelato.com
Punto Gelato: Punto has become an obsession lately because of the hours, convenience, and the discovery of my new favourite flavour. I've been to both the Yonge and Yorkville locations, and I highly recommend both. This is the place you want to go to for a classic Italian gelato, and expect to hear the eye rolls of the Italians behind you while they grade your pronunciation. My favourites: Pistacchio, Nocciola, and the BEST EVER Torrone Siciliano. http://www.puntogelatotoronto.com
Il Gelato Di Carlotta Latteria: This is more of a recent discovery for me, but i've been very pleasantly surprised. My parents initially found this place in Niagara on the Lake, and had the chance of meeting the owners from Florence. I've been to the Niagara and Vaughan Mills locations, and I've enjoyed the quality of the gelato as well as the the accompaniment of their staff from Italy. This place is also a destination suited for a classic Italian gelato, but also offers an interesting take on ice cream sandwiches. My favourites: Café, Nocciola, Pistacchio. https://www.gelatodicarlotta.com
La Paloma Gelateria and Café: This is the OG of Toronto Gelato, and probably the place where I tried my first gelato as a kid. La Paloma has been the go-to spot in the west end and Vaughan area for many years. It's another place that's all about the classics, and rarely disappoints. My favourites: Nocciola, Pistacchio, Tiramisu. http://lapaloma.ca
I hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe it even helped you find a new favourite gelato spot. Be sure to use my checklist the next time you try new gelato, and let me know what you think! If you have any gelato recommendations for me, please let me know below!
Fa la brava,