An array of gelato flavors at Gail Silverton's Gelato Bar. Photo courtesy of Ryan Forbes

We're over the Fro-Yo Wars. The real soldiers in the battle for frozen dessert affections make ice cream with real butterfat, not some mamby pamby imitation with ingredients you need a chemistry degree to pronounce.

With so many ice cream eating days here in sunny SoCal, it's no surprise that Los Angeles has some of the country's best ice cream shops—mixing unique, often unusual flavors. Start drooling after the jump.

Mashti Malone's

The near-legendary Mashti Malone's on Sunset and La Brea has been tickling taste buds with Persian-inspired flavors for more than 20 years. Opened by two Iranian immigrant brothers, Mashti and Mehdi Shirvani, in an unassuming strip mall, the store is known for stand-out flavors like Herbal Snow and Rosewater Saffron, in addition to more "normal" ones like pistachio, and Turkish coffee. 1525 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90028 (map); 323-874-0144; mashtimalone.com

Carmela Ice Cream


Carmela Ice Cream's Jessica Mortarotti at Silver Lake Farms and a Silver Lake Farms organic rose destined for her ice cream.

If you can coordinate your ice cream craving to coincide with the Hollywood Farmers Market (Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; map) or the South Pasadena Farmers Market (Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m.; map) then you can dig your spoon into the delicious ice cream flavors from the newest kid on the block— Carmela Ice Cream. Owner Jessica Mortarotti started the business about a year ago with the goal of creating seasonal, garden-inspired flavors for adult palates.

Flavors like heirloom tomato sorbet, Meyer lemon thyme, grapefruit tarragon, and raspberry rose sorbet are made with fresh ingredients from local farmers including Tara Kolla's urban organic Silver Lake Farms, which provides the ginger mint and organic roses for some flavors. If you miss the markets, just buy the ice cream online, at the Little Flower Candy Company in Pasadena, or Auntie Em's Kitchen. 323-319-6084; carmelaicecream.com.


Scoops was designed to be a neighborhood ice cream shop catering to local families and Los Angeles Community College students, but owner and UC Berkeley Arts grad Tai Kim has a visual flair drawing ice cream lovers from all over. The Brown Bread made with Grape Nuts and caramel is a Scoops staple. Others range from tame (strawberry balsamic) to more adventurous (bacon and vegan salty chocolate). There's also a suggestion board tucked into a corner where guests can run wild with flavor fantasies for Kim to attempt. 712 North Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles CA 90029 (map); 323-906-2649

Gelato Bar

Sister of famed Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton, Gail Silverton has quickly made her mark on the ice cream scene. This beautiful Studio City space is designed to look like an Italian piazza from the terracotta floors to the umbrella-filled sidewalk and indoor fountain.

The nuts, chocolate, and pastes for Silverton's gelatos all come from Italy, while other ingredients are decidedly more local, many from area farmers markets. Flavors lean toward traditional Italian—panna cotta, pistachio, tutto bosco—with a few inventive ones like Mascafe, a combo of mascarpone cheese and coffee. Most of the gelato is made with milk instead of cream (or water for the sorbets), keeping the fat content low and the gelatos lighter and more refreshing. The flavors are vibrant and real, often tasting more like the real thing than the real thing itself. In addition to great atmosphere and incredible gelato, Gelato Bar offers free Italian lessons on Thursday afternoons, set to start up again this fall. 4342 ½ Tujunga Avenue, Studio City CA 91604 (map); 818-487-1717; gelatobar-la.com

About the author: Leah Greenstein is a Los Angeles-based food and wine writer. Her favorite bumper sticker says: Talk Nerdy to Me. She also pens the blog SpicySaltySweet.com.


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