Food writer Nancy Leson takes readers on a tasting tour of area ice cream and gelato shops.
July is National Ice Cream Month, though ice cream — and its Italian cousin, gelato — are a treat adored year ’round. Can’t you hear the screams, for classics like West Seattle’s Husky Deli, Maltby’s Snoqualmie Gourmet and Redmond’s Theno’s Dairy, and long-loved gelaterias Procopio, Gelatiamo and Bottega Italiana? Frozen-sweets fans follow Half-Pint, Empire and the Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co. to local farmers markets and chase trucks from Molly Moon’s and Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream by following them on Twitter. Meanwhile, I’ve just made the rounds in search of creamy, handcrafted cool, with stops at some favorites, listed below. Did I miss yours? Feel free to scream on seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat.
D’Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale
5339 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle (206-327-9175 or www.dambrosiogelato.com); noon-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-midnight Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays.
Enzo D’Ambrosio (who mastered his craft in Italy) along with his son Marco (a former wine salesman) opened their handsome clean-lined gelateria in the heart of old Ballard, where they carefully source ingredients and proudly use organics. I’ve gone nuts over their house-made pistachio di Bronte (among other flavors, including panna cotta, and caramello with figs and mascarpone). Marco, manning the counter in this spacious storefront outfitted with counter seats and a handful of tables, explained why: Those pistachios are “the green gold of Sicily,” grown in limited production. Such carefully sourced ingredients help explain the delicioso-factor. Feel guilty tasting with all those tiny spoons? Relax: They’re biodegradable.
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Fainting Goat Gelato
1903 N. 45th St., Seattle (206-327-9459 or www.faintinggoatseattle.com); open noon-11 p.m. daily.
Molly Moon’s gets all the glory, but this neighboring Wallingford cafe has its own fervent fan base. Yalcin and Sevim Ataman and daughters bring Turkish charm to the task of dispensing traditional Italian gelato (stracciatella) and sorbetto (including a potent pink grapefruit) along with their Turkish coffee. Choosing just one “favorite” flavor among the many (honey rose? salted caramel? banana split?) would be impossible, though their tart nonfat-yogurt gelato is so silkily sublime it’s capable of making this old goat faint.
Full Tilt Ice Cream
White Center: 9629 16th Ave. S.W., 206-767-4811 (noon-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays); Columbia City: 5041 Rainier Ave. S., 206-226-2740 (noon-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, noon-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays); University District: 4759 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. (no phone: open noon-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays); www.fulltilticecream.com.
In White Center and Columbia City, Full Tilt pours it on with a full quid of pinball wizardry and old-school video games — plus local beers on tap. There, as at the teensy U District locale (follow the sweet scent of waffle cones around the corner from Cedars Restaurant), crowds linger in line waiting for the main draw: owners Justin Cline and Ann Magyar’s proud product, whose flavors appeal to a broad spectrum of palates. Vegans will appreciate the green tea ice cream soothed with coconut milk. Kids crave “birthday cake” with multicolored sprinkles and chunks of its namesake. Grown-ups moan, not inappropriately, over the best-selling Mexican chocolate intense with cinnamon. Taste ube (pronounced “ooh-bay”), and you’ll be saying “Ooh baby,” as I did, lavishing affection on the Filipino favorite: a rich purple scoop made with sweet yam.
Mora Iced Creamery
Bainbridge Island: 139 Madrone Lane (11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays); Poulsbo: 18801 Front St. (11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays); Kingston: 11250 N.E. State Highway 104 (open seasonally, spring through early fall; 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays). Central phone: 206-855-1112; www.moraicecream.com.
Owners Jerry Perez and Ana Orselli’s ice creamery — born on Bainbridge Island, late of Bellevue Square and since expanded to Poulsbo (with a seasonal shop in Kingston) — should be on your mini-staycation list and high atop everyone’s “take the outtatowners” itinerary. Hop the ferry at the Colman Dock (headed for Winslow) or Edmonds (to Kingston), take a short walk and chill at these neighborly ice-cream parlors. Here, the sweet stuff is secreted away in temperature-controlled stainless-steel containers, keeping flavors pure and textures tantalizing. After significant sampling (try the chocolate peanut-butter Moreo — think: Oreo) I strolled back to the ferry, waffle cup in hand, savoring dark chocolate mint and Marsala-laced sabayon. You might award brownie points for the bittersweet Brownie Mora, mine go to the availability of gluten-free cones.
Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or email@example.com