Gelato in the Bay Area
This buzzy Italian eatery regularly requires an hour-plus wait for its handmade pasta and sourdough-whole-grain pizzas. But dessert-seekers can skip the line to snag scoops of gelato to-go. The restaurant typically offers three to four small-batch flavors at a time, which might include classics like salted caramel, fior di latte, or pistachio. If you spot malted yogurt gelato on the menu, get it—it’s an early standout. Top your scoop with olio verde or aged balsamic for a tangy twist.
Owner Federico Murtagh honed his craft at an Argentine-style gelateria before launching his own mini-empire in the Bay Area. Though he maintains two locations in the East Bay and two in SF, he still makes all his own gelato from scratch. All the production happens at the Polk Street shop, and ingredients are sourced from NorCal farms and creameries. Murtagh has a particular affinity for oddball flavors—you can make a suggestion on Twitter or Instagram—resulting in playful combinations like creme fraiche with chocolate and black pepper, cognac and pecan pie swirl, and popcorn truffle. But he’s perhaps best known for his cheesy infusions, like Cowgirl Creamery fromage blanc with cookie dough, Bellwether farms ricotta and lemon zest, and mascarpone balsamic with chocolate chunks.
Founders Antonio Massimini and Henri Waltenspühl met in Milan, trained at the Gelato University near Bologna, then opened their shop in SF in 2017. Named after Henri’s gelato-loving grandmother, the quaint spot offers eight daily flavors. The gelatos are meticulously prepared using local ingredients, including combinations like amaretto-almond-orange zest, “almost chai” (fior di latte with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger), coconut-banana-rum, and peanut butter with dark chocolate.
This Italian-run gelato empire has dozens of outposts around the globe, including Berlin, Dubai and Cancun. In 2014, Amorino finally arrived in the East Bay. The spot has elevated gelato scooping to an art form, shaping your flavors into a multi-petal, concentric rose design atop the cone. The assortment spans over two dozen flavors, including banana, Sicilian citrus, dulce de leche, cocoa-hazelnut, and mango. In addition, the Frenchy cafe peddles gelato-filled macarons and crepes.
Owner Funn Fisher takes inspiration from her native Thailand, dreaming up a dozen daily flavors like chocolate lemongrass, Thai iced tea, soursop ginger, chilli mango, and blackberry Singha beer. Top your cup or cone with equally exotic toppings like lychee-coco gel, jackfruit, or Thai-style hand-roasted coconut flakes.
Husband-wife owners Phil and Mona Malik (the founders of Fort Point Beer) left hops behind to open this Fillmore gelato shop in 2018. The couple makes their sorbet and gelato in small batches every day using fresh fruit and organic dairy from Petaluma and hazelnuts and pistachios imported from Sicily. The pair whips up a dozen flavors daily, such as Modesto plum, creme brulee, lemon pie, mandarin orange with caramelized pineapple, and vanilla-cinnamon-orange-marmalade.
Patrizia Pasqualetti prides itself on creative flavor combinations—they offer over 30 varieties. The assortment includes California-inspired concoctions like Portuguese milk with caramelized figs, avocado, orange blossom, and sour cherry crunch.
Owner Alberto Malvestio makes a fresh batch of flavors every morning at 6am, roasting pistachios, cutting fresh fruit, and churning nut butters by hand. (When business took off four years later, Simone Arpaio, a fellow Italian, joined him in the kitchen.) Favorite flavors specialties like lavender blueberry, rose, and toasted almond with caramelized figs. Almare is also known for its exotic fruit sorbets, in flavors like celery mint lime, Tuscan melon, and Meyer lemon.
The Mission gelato shop—which translates to “the crazy cup”—is helmed by Mauro Pislor, an Italian transplant with a long history in ice cream. You’ll find fruity, tart, and spicy flavors made with ingredients imported from Italy, including coconut, passion fruit, cinnamon, espresso, and lemon-lavender. (Bonus: dark chocolate and vanilla soy gelato!) The toppings are equally eclectic, spanning coffee, caramel, mango, white chocolate, and more. If you’re feeling extra decadent, splurge for the chocolate- and peanut-dipped waffle cone.
This gelateria in the heart of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto has a grown-up vibe. Italian owners Emiliano Cecchetti and Mauro Bernocchi pride themselves on their local and organic ingredients, including pink grapefruit, strawberries, mint, and cream. The pair churns out a mix of classic and inventive flavors, like stracciatella, black sesame, passion fruit, pistachio, and dark chocolate. Order your scoop the Italian way, as an affogato (dunked in a cup of espresso) or topped with Amarena cherries.