May 7, 2013

Tactical (Restaurant) Review: Paolo's Gelato

Midtown on an Atlanta spring day drives many to the sidewalks and parks that are sprinkled around the Virginia Highland area. And with a the hunger of a day of frolicking in the sun being only quenched by the siren song of something icy, many flock to Paolo’s Gelato. Renown for creamy, smooth concoctions of over 70+ flavors (only served a handful at a time mind you), this Atlanta fixture has been serving patrons since ’99. I took the wife on a sunny, spring day after walking the streets to find out if this famed Italian style gelato could in fact, quench our thirst.

As this is very near the Virginia Highland Triangle, parking can be an issue. Limited space that supplies the local shopping, dining and residential living all contributes to the congestion. But as one needs to bank the requisite calories to feel less guilty about eating this flavor packed cream, walking wasn’t viewed as a challenge, but as a rite of passage.

The almost college style atmosphere of the ‘Triangle’ leads one to the front entrance of this admit tingly petite store. Colorful (green neon?), eclectic (complete with a cartoon sized ice cream cone) but strangely inviting, the storefront begs one to enter in the same vain as the folded tarps of a circus tent. The exterior only hints at what awaits the patron when they walk in doors…

Their flavors change daily so call ahead.
I'll take the Nutella Jar near the bottom please.
Many an espresso and Italian themed soft drink to choose from.
The inviting though cramped interior is a cornucopia of Italian goodies (think cannoli, crepes, soft drinks, espresso, etc.) that line display counters and the shelved walls all bathed in a rainbow of colored offerings in the shape of gelato mounds. Think a ‘what if Willy Wonka if he were Italian’ moment.

An Italian looking woman, who gladly offered her recommendations and samples on the 10 or so featured flavors today, greeted us from behind the enormous counter. She regrettably informed me that my favorite flavor, Pistachio (sigh), was only available on Saturdays and it goes quickly. With that in mind, I ordered their Amaretto (a stunner) and Mint Chocolate (in my personal ice cream lexicon) in a waffle cone with my wife receiving the Zabaione (flavored with Marsala wine, simple and elegant) and Stracciatella (with flecks of chocolate, amazing).

A cannoli will be on our 'to-do' list the next visit
The gelato had just the right amount of sugar (not overly sweet) and fat content (it didn’t cover your palette) thus allowing the stunning flavors to sing. Gelato, by its very nature of not being as ‘airy’ as our traditional America style (it’s churned at a slower speed), has a denser feel thus making one feel more satisfied after eating (my wife couldn’t even finish her small cup). The care of this on-site made product was apparent. This was top-shelf quality.
Carrying our treats, we were lead back outside the seek one of the many stationed benches that litter the area to join the other Paolo’s Gelato patrons enjoying the beautiful weather. We let our thoughts drift to Italian walk ways and music. So, when the sun comes out to play again, as it only can here in Atlanta, we’ll be back (and on a Saturday for their Pistachio too). Buon Appetito!

Review Date: April 2013

3.5 Alarms.

Paolo's Gelato Italiano on Urbanspoon

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