Here’s my theory on gelato: It’s better than ice cream. Not like how people say, “Ice cream is better than sex.” No, this is serious. Not only does gelato contain almost half the fat of regular ice cream, but it’s the smoothest, most dense frozen dessert you’ll ever taste. The powerful flavors transcend the actual ingredients. It’s for real. Just try it. Go Italian for a little while, and you may never scream for ice cream again.
Since opening in 2002, Valerio and Stella Iorio’s La Gelateria has become the new East Side favorite for after-dinner dessert or something cold on muggy nights. There are now two locations, each dishing up between 36 and 65 flavors and those unbelievable three-layer gelato cakes. The pink grapefruit was a surprise — smooth and tart while matching the true flavor perfectly. Our other new favorite was pistachio, which turned out to be exceptionally full-flavored. Prices for both La Gelaterias: $3 small (1 to 2 flavors), $4 large (1 to 3 flavors). La Gelateria Cedar-Fairmount, 12421 Cedar Road, (216) 229-2636; La Gelateria Legacy Village, 25001 Cedar Road, (216) 297-9581; Also available at Osteria di Valerio & Al, 408 St. Clair Ave., (216) 685-9490; Valerio’s Restaurant, 11919 Mayfield Road, (216) 421-8049; Presti’s Bakery, 12101 Mayfield Road, (216) 421-3060
Michaelangelo’s is the place to experience traditional Italian gelato. We were offered millefiori, the honey “
gelato of 1,000 flowers,” which was served in a delicate martini glass and garnished with dried fig slices, a pan wafer and strawberries. The millefiori scooped onto our spoon like mousse, and tasted more authentic than any other gelato we tried. Chef Michael Annandono rotates through more than 30 all-natural flavors in a month, many of them organic, but on a special night you might catch red wine, black pepper or blood orange. Price: $7. 2198 Murray Hill Road. (216) 721-0300
Anthony’s of Little Italy
Anthony’s stood out for having some of the best flavored gelato. We chose tiramisu, cake batter and zabaione, a sweet egg-custard infused with marsala wine and honey. The tiramisu surprised us with bite-size pieces of lady fingers mixed with the smooth mascarpone and Kahlua. As its name suggests, the cake batter was sweet and delicious, but the density and richness made it one-of-a-kind. Price: $3 small (1 to 2 flavors) and $4.50 large (1 to 3 flavors). 12018 Mayfield Road, (216) 791-0700
Honey’s Gourmet of Lakewood
Honey’s gelato and sorbetto is just as legit as anything coming out of the cradle of Little Italy. Using the same Carpigiani gelato machines as La Gelateria, Honey’s was the only place where we found such unique flavors as green tea, chai, cannoli chocolate chip, dairy-free lemon and several sugar-free custard gelatos. Prices: $2 kiddie, $2.75 small, $3.75 medium, $4.75 large. 14877 Detroit Ave., (216) 221-4444