So, here’s the thing about Cafe Dolce Gelato: It’s in The Galleria. Yes, it’s inconvenient to get to if you’re not already in The Galleria. Yes, it is a long walk from the parking garage. Yes, Galleria traffic is hellish at most times of most days. Yes, it’s not the best place for a little, family-owned gelato shop. But yes, the gelato here truly is some of the best you’ll ever eat.
Owner Josh Collier started the tiny gelato shop and deli sandwiched between Nordstrom and soup dumpling haven E Tao about two years ago. While the geographic location was not ideal as a destination gelato shop, it was the best available at the time. Formerly a Cold Stone Creamery franchise, the build-out needed to start the new gelato business was so inconsequential they couldn’t pass up the space.
Location inconveniences aside, Collier is making gelato the Italian way, even if it is in the middle of The Galleria. Every sorbetto (gelato made without dairy) and gelato is made with fresh produce, house-mixed chocolate or pistachios direct from an organic farm in Sicily, and you can honestly taste the difference.
The mildly green pistachio gelato is the best I have ever eaten. No fluorescent greens from food coloring or concentrates here. In fact, it’s almost a little unsettling at first. I’ve grown accustomed to bright sea-foam-green pistachio-flavored ice creams and gelati, so this dull shade of sage seemed a little lackluster. But the taste was just the opposite. It was exactly as it sounded: pure pistachios, only in frozen form, their essence enhanced by a smattering of sweet and creamy. Eye rollingly good.
Other flavor highlights were the seasonal mascarpone honey almond fig, in which all ingredients were balanced in just the right amounts to complement their fellow components and the roasted almond (I’ve got a thing for nuts, apparently), which was very pure tasting and satisfying.
To keep his business from going the way Cold Stone did before them, Collier also offers panini, deli sandwiches, salads, coffees and snacks for the workers and shoppers inside The Galleria. His latest panini features slices of chicken, a pesto made of pistachios, arugula, tomato and provolone. It’s simple and tasty and filled with pistachio flavor that marries nicely with everything else inside the pressed ciabatta.
One last product Collier insisted I try was something special he’d brought over from his most recent trip to Sicily – he goes once a year to research new flavors and products – a pistachio cream. Similar to Nutella, but with pure pistachios instead of hazelnuts and a cream instead of chocolate, this green, gooey spread is pretty much the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth (other than the pistachio gelato). Spread between two halves of a croissant, it was gone in fewer bites than I’d like to admit.
With a menu pleasing to any gelato or pistachio fiend, Cafe Dolce Gelato is worth the torture of losing your car inside the bowels of The Galleria’s parking garage. But, lucky for you, Collier just procured a retail license and plans to start selling the store’s authentic, all-natural gelato inside grocers and restaurants throughout the city, so perhaps you won’t have to brave the traffic to get a taste after all.
Ambrose, Amber. “SIDEDISH” Houston’s Dining Magazine, MY TABLE. . 31 August 2012 <http://my-table.com/archives/sidedish/2012/08/>.