Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RESTAURANT: The Great Gelato Showdown: Scoops v. Pazzo

A recent L.A. Weekly article pegged gelato as one of the five signs your neighborhood is gentrifying. The article points to Pazzo Gelato as evidence of the completion of the "Brentwoodization" of Silver Lake. Which leads me to wonder. Can gentrification ever be complete? How do you know? How do you know if it's really as ... um ... gentle (?) as it's going to get? Because it has a gelato shop? I don't know ... there's been a gelato shop in my neighborhood for a while and I think there's still quite a bit of gentrifying to do on my skeevy section of Melrose.

And then, I get an e-mail about Scoops Gelato, and how owner Tai Kim is creating twelve different flavors based around the theme of "The Black Dahlia," to coordinate with the movie release and as a tie-in to Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak's "Real Black Dahlia" Crime Bus Tour.

I've been hearing a lot about these gelato places, and I think we are asking the wrong questions here. The question is not "does this mean gentrification?" or "would the Black Dahlia like it?" The question is, which one is better?

The fact that two notable gelato shops happen to be in such close proximity means, to me, that the two need to go head to head and prove their worthiness to me. Whose cuisine will reign supreme? I rounded up my posse, J. and French Toastie, and we made our way east.

Scoops is located on a little street in a decidedly non-gentrified part of L.A. More Hollywood than Silver Lake, close to L.A. City College. There's a tattoo shop nearby, a coffee shop next door, and the most popular bike shop I have ever seen, with a constant cluster of hanger-outers on the sidewalk out front.

Mr. Kim is not only the owner, he's the man behind the counter. The customers that came in often greeted him by name and there seemed to be a lot of regulars. Mr. Kim creates unique flavors that rotate on a regular basis. He'll let you try as many as you want before you make your final decision. It's $2.00 for two scoops, which is a steal considering the quality, flavors and care that seems to go into this gelato.

I sampled chocolate cayenne (SPICY! Very good, but too hot for me to get a whole scoop), but it was a hot day and once my mouth stopped tingling, I decided on something light and tropical: coconut-saffron and mango-lime:





That's mine on the left. French Toastie's is in the middle: chocolate-vanilla and mango-lychee and J.'s is hanging out on the right there: blackberry-balsamic and caramel-coffee-brownie (yeah, you heard right--that's a real thing) .

All of these were excellent. The texture was very creamy and the flavors of mine were nice and light. The saffron and coconut melded into one flavor that was complemented by the more subtle tropical fruit flavors.

It was hard to leave ... the little street was so peaceful and I wanted to run in and try more flavors. But we had more gelato to try elsewhere.

The scene is completely different at Pazzo. Pazzo is in the "gentrified" part of Silverlake. Every store is smartly designed and new looking, including this one, with its spanking brown awning and slightly retro logo. One of the owners was behind the counter here, as well, along with a couple of helpers. This place was definitely more happening, or maybe it just felt that way because the actual store space for customers was smaller than the customer space at Scoops.

The flavors here were less daring but that does not necessarily mean anything. We were also allowed to sample flavors here. The price was higher than Scoops, at $3.25 for two scoops. I thought the plum was very delicious, but ultimately, here's our choices for Pazzo:

On the left we have French Toastie's chocolate-orange and coconut. The chocolate orange was incredibly rich, but I don't think I could have had more than a bite of it. Mine is there in front. It's Kyo-ho grape and fresh strawberry, or what I like to think of as the "Nerds" combo. Both of these flavors were made from fruits fresh from the market and they were bursting with powerful flavor. J. ordered pistachio and yellow peach. The pistachio was intensely nutty. He said "it tasted more like pistachio than actual pistachio does."

The texture was more icy and harder than Scoops. But overall? The final verdict was that although both were delicious, Scoops had the edge. The interesting and ever changing flavor combos would get us to come back, along with the primo ingredients and the soft, creamy texture. Not to mention the cozy location.

However, if you wanted to do gelato, you could do worse than either of these places and both would make a great choice, depending on your preferences and convenience.

My recommendation:

Try Scoops if you are ...

- an adventurous eater
- like softer texture
- want a less "gentrified," more low-key atmosphere

Try Pazzo if you are:

- Looking for pure, classic flavors or intensely fruity fruit flavors
- Don't mind a less creamy texture
- Want to do some shopping in a hip area (hint: The Cheese Store is right nearby)


Scoops
712 N Heliotrope Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Pazzo Gelato
3827 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Who Else is Talking About Gelato?

5 comments:

that was a great afternoon. at scoops i had the mango-lychee (which i am craving more of). at pazzo, i had the coconut- which i was not as excited about as the chocolate-orange. overall, i agree that scoops is the place i'd return to in a heartbeat.
p.s. besty says a french toast blog is a stupid idea.

said by French Toastie at 10:09 AM Delete

A french toast blog is NOT a stupid idea. It is completely necessary. We need to know where to get the best french toast, and we also need to know the best recipes to make our own french toast!

It's a public service, my dear.

said by KT at 12:00 PM Delete

Thanks for the indepth report--I have not tried Scoops yet. Pazzo is of course "on the way home" from many a dinner/night out so we just have to stop :) I want to check out the Black Dahlia flavors at Scoops though, so I'll have to stop this weekend.

said by Erin S. at 12:11 PM Delete

Ooh I hope if you try the special flavors you post about it on your blog! I am tres curious!

said by KT at 2:06 PM Delete

I love gelato, but it is difficult to find a shop that makes it in my small town in S.C. so, I have to make it myself when I get a craving. I appreciate all of the recipes I can get my hands on. Check out this "cool" article about gelato at www.foodista.com

said by GrowItGreen at 7:11 AM Delete

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