Pardon the pun, but Bulgarini is the creme de la creme of gelato. Proprietor Leo Bulgarini manages to capture the essence of each flavor so that you may not even believe what you're tasting. His treats have just a hint of salt and are often served Italian-style with olive oil. Unlike the new wave of faux yogurt and ice cream shops that have cropped up lately, Leo's sweet shop proudly uses only the best dairy products from Broguiere's in Montebello. Do yourself a favor and try the gelato he makes with expensive Bronte pistachios he hand-imports from Sicily. You'll be kicking yourself later if you don't try it today.
749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena and 8686 Washington Blvd., Culver City
2. Sweet Rose Creamery
There is something for everyone at Sweet Rose Creamery, the utterly fabulous ice cream shop at the Brentwood Country Mart. The sweet-ery, owned by Josh and Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry, serves standard fare like salted caramel to completely original flavors using ingredients found at the farmer's market: Sweet Corn, Match Tea with Candied Azuki Beans and Shiso Prosecco are just a few of the most recent flavors. There's something inventive for the dairy-free as well, including black sesame made with Meiji Tofu soy milk and Horchata, made with rice milk. Indulging never felt so good.
225 26th St.Street, Santa Monica
3. Carmela Ice Cream
It's no wonder that "Carmela" literally translates to "garden", given that Carmela Ice Cream uses only the very best produce and ingredients to make its smooth, rich, flavorful treats. Owner Jessica Mortarotti imports organic lavender from the Pelindaba Lavender Farm in the San Juan Islands, but also supports local businesses such as the McGrath Family Farm, who supply the succulent strawberries used in her Strawberry Buttermilk mixture. The Honey Lavender and Guinness are must-haves.
2495 E Washington Blvd. Pasadena
If vanilla is your flavor of choice, you might not be the best person to explore the adventurous hybrids found at Scoops. Founder Tai Kim likes to experiment with sugary confections, blending everything from jasmine chocolate and blueberry tea to bacon and dairy-free Oreo. The salty honey is a standout, as is the Brown Bread, a vanilla-based ice cream doused with caramel and sprinkled with Grape Nuts. It's only fair that you prepare your tastebuds for the flavor explosion exploration they're about to embark on.
712 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles and 3400 Overland Ave, Los Angeles
As the name implies, Coolahus is the newest trend in sweet, summery treats. These ice cream sandwiches from Freya Estreller and Natasha Case were originally named after architectural movements, but now encompass every sort of flavor combination imaginable. Whether you're indulging in their alcohol-spiked sandwiches such as the Scorpion Mezcal Banana Honey, Chocolate Cointreau or Whiskey & Lucky Charm or trying out their newest frozen treat, the Fried Chicken & Waffle, you're going to being leaving one very happy and very cool customer.
8588 Washington Blvd., Culver City