Summery Sinfulness
We sampled five homegrown ice creameries, so now you have to.

By Jonathan Kauffman

Gelato Milano

The scoop: Owner and gelartiste Curtis Chin cofounded Berkeley's Mondo Gelato back when it was a franchise of a Rome-based chain, then had a falling-out with the other founders. They went indie (becoming Gelateria Naia), and so did he, successfully fighting to open Gelato Milano within spitting distance of his old partners' store. There are lots of similarities in the way the two flavor and display their wares. But Chin, a purist to the point of minimalism, imports flavorings from Italy and painstakingly renders them into some of the most velvety stuff around.

Gelato or ice cream? A no-brainer.

Fave flavors: Bacio (hazelnut-chocolate mix), caffè, crem caramel, and any of the spectacular fruit sorbetti, which have the texture of whipped butter.

Percentage of flavors in plain English: 5, and that's only because mango is an Italian word, too.

If the vanilla were a pop star: Sade — not thrillingly distinctive but buttery and golden, with a caramel finish.

Sin factor: Venial. Chin claims the gelato contains only 8 percent fat. When it melts you can taste the healthfulness, but when it's fresh, the texture is mortally creamy.

Excerpt from article published in the East Bay Express, June 21, 2006