Gelato Bar, the concept designed by Gail Silverton and developed with her partner and husband, Joel Gutman, pays homage to authentic gelato bars found in Italy, forged with the American small town sensibility of building of a neighborhood meeting place to make a winning addition to the community.
Both Gail and her sister, renowned Chef Nancy Silverton, own homes in Panicale, a small village in the Umbrian region of Italy. The yearly visits with extended family exposed Silverton to the artistry of regional products. She also discovered the bonding found in the Italian piazza, where members of the community could be found seeking daily news and camaraderie. She became passionate about finding a way to recreate the experience back home in California.
Opened in 2010, Gelato Bar is located in the center of Hillhurst Avenue, in the midst of bustling shops and restaurants. The store is decorated with splashed brightly striped walls of yellow, blue and green with a charming setting of scattered tables and chairs where one can wander in for a coffee or snack, read the International Herald Tribune, New York Times or play a game of chess with a neighbor.
The focal point is the magnificent Milanese gelato case, displaying billowing colored clouds of gelato. The gelato is treated with great care; managers regularly monitor refrigeration to ensure that the product is served at optimum temperature, making Gelato Bar a superior source for the Italian confection. Each of the 24 daily selections of gelato and sorbetto flavors are hand-decorated with eye-catching garnishes of fresh fruits, nuts and spices. Along with Italian classics Nocciola, Straciatella and Pistachio, Silverton has several flavors fabricated to her specifications: a Spicy Chocolate made with habanero, an English Toffee inspired by the candy at Littlejohn’s at the 3rd Street Farmers Market, Cinnamon Basil and Pomegranate. Also featured daily are sugar-free gelato and fat-free sorbetto as well as an original frozen Greek yogurt – in featured flavors – made with real yogurt and without powders or mixes
The artisanal product is custom made by Allessandro Fontana, an expert gelato maker from Venice, who taught Gail and Joel the nuances of the best Italian gelato. Gelato Bar’s frozen confections are made daily in small batches; each flavor contains 65-70% pure product (i.e. pistachio, chocolate, fruits) as compared to most other varieties, which often contain only 30% product. Gelato deceivingly has a much lower fat content than conventional American ice creams and due to its lower temperature, richer flavors can be achieved.
Gelato Bar also features a stunning coffee bar similar to the ones found in Europe, where customers can stand and order from an expansive list of beverages, gourmet teas, Italian sodas,
expertly brewed pour-over coffees, espresso made with specially roasted coffees by Forty Ninth Parallel Roasters, a boutique roaster from Vancouver, British Columbia. Forty Ninth Parallel specializes in direct from origin, fair trade and organically grown beans and is committed to offering only the freshest, highest quality coffee. Every batch of green coffee is carefully roasted by Master Roaster Michael Piccolo to bring out its preeminent qualities. Pour-over brewing methods are Gelato Bar’s specialty, using the critically acclaimed Hario Buono V60 kettle, ridged glass filters, and precision controlled water temperature for optimal bean extraction. Gelato Bar’s baristas are expertly trained by Nik Krankl, 2nd place winner of the National Barista Championship. The team expertly prepares espressos with a state-of-the-art brewing system from La Marzocco, made in Florence, Italy. The beverage menu also includes an expansive list of Italian sodas, gourmet teas and affogato.
Silverton and Gutman are handpicking the best baked goods from local suppliers. Rotating selections of savory and sweet snacks are selected from their favorite local bake shops – Cake Monkey, Short Cake and La Brea Bakery.
In keeping with the philosophy of the shop, Gelato Bar is a family affair and operated by both Silverton and Gutman personally. Gutman, with an extensive history in sales, heads the wholesale business, serving restaurants, retail operations and party venues.
Silverton is delighted about the enthusiastic response to Gelato Bar. “This is such a perfect product to sell. It’s a business that says ‘just treat yourself,’ which is something everyone should do for themselves in some small way every day.” Gutman agrees, “Gelato is one of the few things that appeal to all ages. It’s visually beautiful, pleasurable to eat and fun for everyone. Everybody smiles when they have a gelato.”