Cold Comfort

By Andrea Pflaumer, Contributor

Icy Relations

The cold war along Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley is good news for gelato lovers. In the storefront that until recently housed See’s Candies—and a great consolation for that tragic loss—is Gelato Milano, a fine Italian-style gelateria, founded by Berkeley native son Curtis Chin. The decor resembles a minimalist Milan design house: poured concrete counters, Philippe Starck–designed stools, and exceptional gelato. All the recipes are inspired by master Milanese gelato maker Giordano Mauri, whose son Marcello has just moved to Berkeley to be the shop’s gelato and sorbetto artisan. It features 24 flavors daily, six of which are sorbetto. “All our flavors are Italian,” says Chin, “we don’t have gimmick flavors.”

Close your eyes and have a taste of zuppa inglese (rum-flavored tiramisu sans coffee), cassata siciliana (traditional Sicilian cake flavor with candied fruit), or torrocino (honey nougat candy) and you’re in Italy. The menu changes seasonally. On a recent visit there was fresh coconut—“no coconut milk, just pure coconut,” says Chin—as well as banana, pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, mango, and strawberry. A lot of customers, many of them of Italian descent, come in specifically for the grapefruit sorbetto. “Vegans who taste our sorbettos can’t believe they’re non-dairy,” says Chin. A testament to the store’s success is the long lines of customers even throughout the heavy rains this winter, and despite the lack of signage on its door for the first five months of business.

Excerpt from article published in the The Monthly, Shopping Around, July 2006