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Primal Eats Vancouver: Bella Gelateria

July 31, 2012

Bella-Gelateria-Cherry-Gelato

I frequent this gelato shop more than I care to admit. Forget willpower, the only thing other than guilt really keeping me away is the exorbitant prices – but more on that later.

The interesting thing is, I never used to like gelato. In fact, I’d scoff at it. But that was because I had never had true gelato before. After having Bella’s gelato, I’ve become a bit of a gelato snob. Before, some magnetic force would pull me to any gelato or ice cream store in sight, especially when on vacation. Now, I’ll skeptically ask for a single taste, and 9 times out of 10, I’ll walk away empty-handed. The sugary, watery stuff just doesn’t compare – it’s simply not worth eating. And this gelato hasn’t gone unrecognized, Bella Gelateria recently won first place at the 2012 Gelato Festival in Florence, Italy.

So what makes this gelato so great? For starters, it’s made on-site, from scratch, every day. They use classic Italian equipment, work in small batches, and allow the flavors to infuse for a minimum of 12 hours. The ingredients are top-notch, seasonal and local (where possible), including organic milk and egg yolks. The gelato isn’t overly sweet, and tastes very natural, unlike most of the stuff on the market that’s a sugar bomb and can taste artificial.

“We have also chosen not to use pre-packaged frozen ingredients, industrially prepared pastes, commercially prepared mixes or flavouring, artificial stabilizers or additives, but rather we make our gelato and sorbetto from scratch working with raw ingredients.”

So, I’m a gelato convert. For the record, I still love artisanal ice cream – the creamy, airy, fatty goodness is in a category all its own. And of course I roll my eyes at any health claims of gelato over ice cream because of lower fat content. But the texture of this gelato is also exceptionally dense and creamy. And most importantly, it’s all about the concentrated, intense flavor – that’s where this gelato has ice cream beat.

And there are plenty of creative flavours to choose from – both in terms of gelato and sorbet. I recently tried the buko pandan, which was like nothing I had ever tasted before. And even though I don’t eat pork, I “accidentally” tried the bacon chocolate one – they mistakenly handed it to me instead of the salted chocolate flavour! (It was just okay). Although I’m always curious to try James’ latest creations and seasonal concoctions, I always end up craving what I consider the classics: cherry, pistachio, and vanilla. For those avoiding dairy, their sorbettos are also amazing.

Bella-Gelateria-Cherry-and-Coffee-Gelato

As for the pricing… The last time I bought one of their 500g containers, it came to just under $20 with tax. I get that the quality is great, but still, it seems outrageous to pay so much for gelato. I’ve since switched over to just having a single flavor cup (probably better for me anyways).

Service is generally good, although the staff often seems rushed/stressed out, perhaps due to the heavy volume of people coming through the door at their fantastic location at the foot of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. So, the staff could stand to relax a little bit and up the friendliness. Also, on a sunny day expect line-ups (they move pretty fast though).

Simply put, Bella Gelateria offers the best frozen treats around.

Bella-Gelateria-ExteriorBella-Gelateria-InsideBella Gelateria Handcrafted Gelato on Urbanspoon

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