Prepare your pucker and put your licker on alert, because it’s ice cream season in Wine Country. Whether you prefer your scoops in a cup, cone or piled high in a sundae, we’ve rounded up the tastiest frozen treats around.
Bovolo/Zazu: “If you can’t make good vanilla, you can’t make good gelato,” says John Stewart, part of the duo behind Zazu and Bovolo Restaurants. With a flair for Italian, John and wife, Duskie Estes, are committed to doing gelato authentically. Starting with Clover milk, they don’t use a pre-made base like many others, but create the dense flavors with just cream, sugar, seasonal fruits, chocolate or other flavorings (including local wines like pinot noir). There are between 10 and 12 varieties at their Healdsburg cafe, changing up as they experiment with different ingredients. Most recently, a flavor gone wrong (Thai coconut milk) became a candy-lover’s delight: Almond Joy studded with coconut and almonds. What is gelato? This soft, creamy Italian version of ice cream is actually made with less butterfat than normal American ice cream, but less air — giving it a richer quality. Bovolo, 106 Matheson St, Healdsburg, (707) 431-2962.
Del Secco: With 40 flavors on the menu, Del Secco’s gelateria’s
has the scoop on Sonoma County’s sweet tooth. The Rohnert Park shop
features exotic sorbet and gelato (kind of like ice cream, but
creamier) flavors including blood orange, cantaloupe, gingerbread,
50-50v(think Creamsicle) and snowflake–a mixture of white chocolate
and coconut. The gelato’s not made onsite, but by the uber-popular,
flavor-savvy Gelateria Naia folks from the East Bay. Hungry yet? Grab a
spoon. 6285 Commerce Blvd., Suite 308, Rohnert Park, 585.1100, open
Screaming Mimi’s: Both social hub and bike-path destination (for
those heading from Santa Rosa along the Prince Memorial Greenway), this
homegrown scoopery dishes up ridiculously rich and creamy treats that
rotate through owner Maraline Olson’s 300 recipes. And though Mexican
chocolate or plain old vanilla may float some boats, the occasional
appearance of olive oil ice cream is a special treat. Wrinkling your
nose? The grassy, green flavor of olive oil is a perfect foil for the
sometimes cloying sweetness of ice cream. 6902 Sebastopol Avenue,
Sebastopol, (707) 823-5902. Healdsburg’s Snowbunny (312
Center St Healdsburg, (707) 431-7669) is also a fan of the olio
d’oliva, serving up a Fleur de Sel soft serve with a pinch of salt and
a drizzle of local green gold. They also, of course, have the usual
suspects, including fruit and candy toppings for their heavenly frozen
Yogurt Farms: Despite a rather non-descript exterior, this
Mendocino Avenue soft-serve emporium is cute as a cupcake inside, with
a resident plastic cow and more flavors than you can shake a spoon at.
Purists laud the tart, yogurty quality of this local frozen treat
purveyor. Plus, the nicest yogurt slingers in town. 1224 Mendocino
Ave., Santa Rosa, (707) 576-0737
Honeymoon Frozen Yogurt: Self-serve fro-yo with an eye toward
alternative diets, including a vegan mix. Priced per ounce, so fill
your cup with a bit of restraint unless you’re breaking the bank. 7108
Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, (707) 829-9866.
Three Twins Ice Cream: Organic ice cream with serious
conscience. Neal Gottlieb, his twin brother and his wife focus on
sustainable, environmentally thoughtful treats — that also happen to
taste pretty darn good. Oxbow Public Market, Napa.
Laloo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream: Laura Howard’s ultra-gourmet goat
milk ice creams and frozen yogurts have become the darling of the
dessert set after only two years of business. Studded with brownies,
local figs or whatever tickle her fancy, LaLoo’s frozen goat’s milk
also pack a healthy punch of protein and probiotics. Best bets: Low-fat
Rumplemint mint-chocolate chip and Cajeta De Leche frozen yogurt with
Mexican caramel and toffee bits. (Available at Whole Foods, Oliver’s
and Pacific Market).
Worth a lick…
Powell’s Sweet Shoppe: The local sweet emporiums pump up the sugar
quotient with gelato from the Bay Area’s Gelato Classico. Monthly
flavor special recently included a zingy limoncello poppyseed. 322
Center St. Healdsburg; 720 McClelland Dr. Windsor; 151 Petaluma Blvd.
So. # 113, Petaluma.
Golden Spoon: This heatwave hot spot dishes nearly a dozen frozen
yogurt flavors at any one time, from peanut butter cup to monthly
featured flavors including peach, coconut, cookies and cream and Heath
Bar. Give a royal wave with your glittering spoon. 90 Raleys Towne
Centre, Rohnert Park; 1791 Marlow Rd., Santa Rosa; 8828 Lakewood Dr.,
Brownies from Rohnert Park’s Killer Baking Company were my top reason
to visit Santa Rosa’s Wednesday night market through the long hot
summer, but doubly so since Chef Michael recently released his new
maple, brownie bit and pecan ice cream. Also available at Oliver’s
Lala’s Creamery: Family run ice cream parlor in Petaluma offers up
homemade ice creams using Straus milk. 134 Petaluma Blvd. North,
Petaluma, 707 763-5252.