A Lotta Gelato in Honolulu

Local gelato makers are way beyond plain ol' vanilla.

Summer’s upon us, and when it comes to tasty cool downs, there’s more to life than shave ice. Take a Roman holiday instead, with smooth, creamy gelato. It’s not just the Italian version of ice cream. It’s denser, and yet contains less fat. (Don’t believe the gelato makers who tell you it’s healthy, though.)

Two gelato companies supply most of Oahu’s gelato. Unless the restaurant menu specifies a housemade gelato, most likely the frozen scoops come from either La Gelateria, the 30-year-old gelato company, or Il Gelato, the two-year-old upstart that has managed to wrestle away some high-profile accounts such as Roy’s restaurants and Michel’s.

Il Gelato

501 Sumner St., Suite 501, 542-9276, ilgelato-hawaii.com.

Most popular flavor: Tahitian vanilla

Most unusual flavors: Raspberry rosemary sorbetto, hazelnut blue cheese gelato

History: In 2010, a German, Dirk Koeppenkastrop, started making Italian gelato in Hawaii because “Hawaii is great, but there’s no good gelato,” he says.

Where to get it: Pick up pints or a cone directly at the production facility near Dole Cannery, or get scoops at Whole Foods Kahala and Kailua. Some restaurants that carry Il Gelato: Azure, Il Lupino and Cactus Bistro.

Explore avant-garde gelato flavors such as raspberry rosemary sorbetto and hazelnut blue cheese.

photos: david croxford

La Gelateria red velvet gelato.

La Gelateria

819 Cedar St., 591-1133, lagelateriahawaii.com.

Most popular flavors: Chocolate, gianduia (chocolate and hazelnut)

Most unusual flavors: Black sesame seed gelato, pear Chianti sorbetto

History: Italian-born Maurice Grasso started La Gelateria in 1981. Almost 30 years later, he sold it to Kenwei Chong and Erik Ludwick, who, at the time, were partners in E&O Trading Co.

Where to get it: Pick up pints at the factory near Walmart and scoops at the Nordstrom Gelato Bar. Find it in restaurants such as Chef Mavro, Town, Izakaya Gaku and Macaroni Grill. And if you find yourself needing a pick-me-up while sick, you can also get it at Kapiolani and Straub hospitals.


For more dining news around Honolulu, visit Biting Commentary.