Cool down this summer with a delicious array of ice-cold treats around town.
By Beth Fhaner | Photos by Jody Tiongco
The summer season is officially upon us and, although we live in a coastal climate, the warmer temperatures occasionally prompt us to seek relief from the scorching heat. Luckily, Laguna has many places to refresh with its charming gelato, ice cream and yogurt shops. So, the next time you need to cool-off on a sizzling summer day, try indulging in one of these tempting frozen treats.
Taste of Italy
For fans of gelato—Italian ice cream containing less air and butterfat than American ice cream—Laguna certainly doesn’t disappoint. On Broadway Street, just a short walk from Main Beach, Dolce Gelato offers an abundance of tantalizing treats, including gelato, sorbet and pastry desserts—all made daily on site. Dolce Gelato Chef Lindsey Nelsen handcrafts the gelato and sorbet each morning, and her creativity is on display with more than 25 tempting flavors, including salted maple caramel, creme brulee and chocolate sea salt truffle, among others. “Gelato is an incredible canvas for flavor,” Lindsey says. “That’s what attracted me to it in the first place.”
While Lindsey keeps 12 classic flavors year-round and rotates the others, she introduces two new gelatos and a new sorbet weekly. Additionally, she sets a theme for new gelatos every month. Recent themes were Spring Garden for the month of April and Candy Shop for May. Although her summer themes weren’t set as of press time, Lindsey says to expect lots of berry-based gelatos during the summer months. Besides creating her incredible gelato and sorbet recipes, Lindsey makes scrumptious pastries from scratch daily, including fresh fruit cobbler, chocolate lava cakes and other baked goodies. (949-715-9249; gelatobydolce.com)
A few blocks away, tucked into the back of the Peppertree Lane alley, Gelato Paradiso has been serving up delicious, creamy gelato in cups or cones since 2006. All of the gelato is made fresh daily in a small side room—known as “Il Laboratorio”—and the shop regularly features between 28-32 flavors, including the popular “bacio” (dark chocolate hazelnut), which means “kiss” in Italian, dulce de leche, cookies and cream, pistachio and “sorbetto di limone” (lemon sorbet).
For the summer season, Gelato Paradiso plans to introduce a “Summer of Sorbets,” which will feature sorbets made with all kinds of fruits, including pineapple, peach, coconut, cantaloupe, watermelon and more. Fresh waffle cones are also made in house daily, in addition to authentic Italian handmade gelato cakes (custom cakes need to be ordered three days in advance). Expect long lines out the door during the summer months. To attest to Gelato Paradiso’s success, manager Corey Holland says, “We’re the top-grossing gelateria per square foot.” (949-464-9255; gelatoparadiso.net)
Meanwhile, shoppers at The Old Pottery Place in the town’s HIP District can pop into The Chocolate Soldier to get a quick gelato fix. The tiny sweets shop offers six tasty flavors from which to choose, including vanilla panna cotta, pistachio and mint chip. The Chocolate Soldier introduced gelato to its menu two summers ago in order to offer sundaes topped with the shop’s mouthwatering chocolates, but “[ended] up selling more gelato now, although the toffee-caramel sundae is really popular,” says shop owner and confectioner Detra Francis. (949-494-4462; thechocolatesoldier.com)
At Chantilly Ice Cream, at the bustling corner of Park Avenue and South Coast Highway, customers can select from 20 yummy flavors of ice cream (double fudge brownie, pistachio nut, strawberry cheesecake) and several different toppings (peanuts, chocolate, rainbow sprinkles) available in single, double and triple scoops. Sugar cones, waffle cones and chocolate cones are all available here, too. Nonfat yogurt (chocolate, vanilla and swirl) and seven different kinds of smoothies, including pina colada and Banana Blast, are also on the menu, as are brownie sundaes and banana splits. Chantilly Ice Cream features the same ice cream flavors year-round—bubble gum is a big hit with the little ones, while mint chocolate chip, almond praline and cookie dough flavors are always popular with adult patrons. (949-494-7702)
For those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth but still make healthy choices, make a beeline to Active Culture—a small cafe and art gallery featuring a pleasant patio with an ocean view. Located in a Spanish-style cottage, Active Culture is committed to supporting local, organic and sustainable vendors, and the cafe features organic self-serve frozen yogurt, healthy shakes and detox smoothies, in addition to other savory nosh. Customers can select from a variety of nonfat, low-fat, organic and nondairy choices, which include nearly a dozen frozen yogurt options, such as pomegranate-raspberry, Euro tart and peanut butter, as well as more than 30 toppings such as organic granola, mochi and fresh fruit. As for the ultra-healthy smoothies and shakes—the Chocolate Bliss or Naked Coconut Shake come highly recommended. (949-715-5188; activeculturecafe.com)
Ice cream enthusiasts can also find delightful icy confectioneries at other places around town, including C’est La Vie, which serves soft-serve ice cream in a cup or cone at their bakery counter. Additionally, Johnny Rockets offers scrumptious shakes, malts, sundaes and floats, while the menu at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery includes ice cream and a handcrafted root beer float. At the north end of town, Husky Boy Burgers features ice cream in a cup or cone, plus sundaes, shakes, a root beer float and banana split that all hit the spot, while at the south end, Ruby’s Diner serves up a satisfying selection of shakes, malts, sundaes and floats.
With such a plentiful and flavorful selection of frozen treats around Laguna, there’s no need to scream for ice cream this summer. Just get yourself to one of these establishments, and cool off with a gelato, sorbet, fro-yo or ice cream.