Location: Stackt Market (28 Bathurst Street, Toronto)
Solato is a new gelato place in the Stackt Market with a pretty distinctive gimmick — the gelato itself is made on the spot in a process that’s basically like coffee pods, but for ice cream. It’s very slick.
The menu is relatively limited; when I went, it was just vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, and a couple of fruity flavours. You can either get the gelato by itself for six bucks, or pay an extra dollar and get a couple of toppings.
I went with hazelnut sans-toppings, and the whole process was pretty seamless; they put a pod in one of the machines, and within a couple of minutes it was dispensing soft serve gelato.
It’s fine. It’s a fun gimmick, I guess, but it’s hard to deny that there’s better gelato in the city.
I was afraid it might taste artificial, but it has a pretty clean hazelnut flavour, albeit a weak one (the nutty taste is far from robust). It’s very smooth, which I guess is the advantage of making it right on the spot, but otherwise it’s nothing special; it’s a bit of a shrug, especially for the price, but if you’re in the Stackt Market anyway it might be worth a shot just for the novelty value.
Location: 55 Bloor Street West (in the Manulife Centre), Toronto
Eataly is currently doing a promotion they’re calling the Summer Scoop Series; every month, they’re collaborating with a different local gelato-maker on a special flavour. This month, they’re working with Nani’s Gelato, and the flavour is pistachio ricotta kulfi.
The Eataly website describes it as “an Indian-inspired flavour with an Italian twist, featuring Italian pistachio paste, chopped pistachios, steeped saffron, cardamom, and whipped ricotta.”
As you’d expect from Nani’s (and the gelato at Eataly is no slouch, either), it’s superb. The pistachio flavour is pronounced, and it’s perfectly complemented by the saffron and cardamom. The bits of sweet ricotta interspersed throughout are a nice touch. It’s top-notch gelato.
Location: 574 James Street North, Hamilton
Remember the Walnut Crunch from Tim Hortons? Because I certainly do. It was clearly the best doughnut they sold, but then they discontinued it and darkness descended upon the land.
It’s safe to say that since then, we all occasionally google “Walnut Crunch Tim Hortons” to see if there’s any talk of it coming back. I think we can all agree that this is a completely rational thing to do and not crazy at all.
It was during one of these searches that I discovered a place called Grandad’s Donuts in Hamilton — they sell their own version of the Walnut Crunch, just like Tim Hortons used to make. Obviously, I had to check it out.
It was glorious. It was exactly as I remembered at Tim Hortons — maybe a bit puffier, but otherwise pretty much exactly the same thing.
It’s sweet and cakey, with a thick sugary glaze, a mild chocolate flavour, and the occasional nutty crunch from the walnuts. I’ll admit that taken on its own merits — without a fairly liberal dose of Walnut Crunch nostalgia — it’s nothing particularly special. But then we’re all nostalgic for the Walnut Crunch, aren’t we?
Location: 85 Portland Street, Toronto
Piccolina Gelato is a tiny little ice cream shop (it’s about the size of a large walk-in closet) that sells gelato and soft serve ice cream.
Maybe it’s because it’s such a small and unassuming space, but my expectations weren’t particularly high.
I was pretty blown away by how good it was.
I had the chocolate hazelnut, and man, it was good. It was maybe a touch too sweet, but aside from that it was first-class gelato.
The texture was amazing — it was rich, silky, and incredibly creamy. It was profoundly satisfying, and certainly, right up there with the best in the city in that regard.
The flavour was almost as good. It had a very assertive chocolate/hazelnut flavour that was quite Nutella-esque. It also had a very generous amount of nut pieces and chocolate chips that helped to amp up the flavour and the texture.
Honestly, aside from the sweetness thing (a minor complaint), everything about it was great. I really, really enjoyed it.
Location: 93a Ossington Avenue, Toronto
After the cubano disappointment at La Cubana, I wondered: would Bang Bang pull the same thing? It’s been several months since I’ve had their ice cream. Has it gone downhill, too?
Nope. It’s still easily the best ice cream in Toronto, and some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
Bang Bang tends to have at least one new flavour in their rotation, and this time it was the Bad Dad Joke, which they describe as having miso pecans and butterscotch.
It was so damn good.
As usual, the ice cream itself was absolutely superlative: rich, creamy, and amazing. The flavour was just as good, with the butterscotch and the toasty nuts being a perfect match. The flavour was a bit more complex than you’d expect — whether that’s the miso or something else, I have no idea, but it was ridiculously good regardless.
It also had these white chunks in there, and I have no idea what they were (meringue, possibly?) but they added a nice crispiness to the ice cream that worked quite well.