Location: 536 Queen Street West, Toronto
If you’re looking for an off-kilter scoop of gelato, Death in Venice is the place to go. With their various flavours featuring ingredients like parsnip, kaffir lime, and lavender, you’d be advised to look elsewhere if you’re hoping for a scoop of plain chocolate or vanilla.
Of course, it’s easy enough to serve oddball flavours as a novelty; it’s not-so-easy to make them actually taste good.
I can happily say that Death in Venice absolutely nails the whole “tasting really good” thing.
On this particular visit I tried the pistachio yogurt and baklava, which was outstanding. It features crispy bits of phyllo pastry, pistachio chunks, and honey, which really nails the baklava flavour. The yogurt adds a very subtle tartness. There clearly isn’t enough yogurt here to qualify this as frozen yogurt; there’s just enough to add that flavour without being overly sour.
That’s not to mention the lemon zest, which works perfectly with the other elements here. I think there might have also been ricotta? I’m not sure.
But you know what I am sure about? That this was great. Because it was great. Aside from the really interesting combination of flavours, the gelato itself was creamy and luxurious. It’s good stuff.
Location: 477 Queen Street West, Toronto
I guess those stupid overpriced macarons from Ladurée in Yorkdale have ruined other ones for me. Because I just ate a couple from Butter Avenue, and they were pretty good, but I couldn’t help but compare them to Ladurée — and they came up short.
I tried the pistachio and the raspberry white chocolate, and there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with either. The pistachio had a really enjoyable nutty flavour, and the raspberry white chocolate featured a delicious raspberry jam centre surrounded by creamy white chocolate. They were both quite tasty.
But the flavours just couldn’t compare to what they were serving at Ladurée, and the texture was overly dense and chewy, in stark contrast to the almost ethereal lightness of Ladurée’s version.
They were three bucks each, which is certainly less than the almost four that they’re charging at Ladurée, but not exactly cheap. If you’re already spending three bucks on a tiny macaron, you may as well spend the extra dollar and get the superior version.
Location: 1640 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
I’m not sure why, but there are way more gelato shops in the GTA than regular ice cream. I’m pulling this number right out of my you-know-where, but I’d guess there’s something like four gelato places for every one ice cream shop.
So when you’re talking about the best gelato in the city, there’s quite a bit of competition. But Hollywood Gelato is certainly a strong contender for that list.
On a recent visit, I got Rocky Rocher (chocolate hazelnut) and Sicilian Pistachio. The texture was phenomenal. It’s slightly stretchy and richly creamy; you’re not going to do much better in the texture department without a plane ticket to Italy.
The flavour, however, wasn’t quite up to snuff on this particular visit. It was still very good, but the flavour on the Rocky Rocher was a bit muted, and the pistachio was slightly too strong (I think someone was a bit heavy-handed with the pistachio flavouring in this particular batch). There was also a vaguely unpleasant aftertaste that lingered on my palate for a while after I was done.
(I think I’m coming off more negative here than I should — don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious. It just wasn’t quite as delicious as it usually is.)
On another visit, I got a couple of the wackier, Easter-inspired varieties: Creme Egg and Kinder Surprise. Surprisingly enough, they were a lot better than the more traditional flavours I had on my previous visit. The Kinder Surprise, in particular, really nailed the milky, chocolatey flavour of that particularly treat.