When I visited Napoli several summers ago, gelato was at the top of my must-eat list. I grabbed my husband and together we scouted out a gelateria along the seaside promenade. It was a short distance from the shop to a ledge that overlooked the rocky beaches speckled with sunbathers in Speedos. We quickly devoured the cold, silky gelato from our mini shovel-shaped spoons before the June heat could melt it away, but with the sparkling Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop, it was a postcard-worthy scene.
There’s a reason why gelato is so craveable and why Atlanta has had an influx of gelato shops in recent years. Compared to traditional ice cream, the Italian dessert is creamier, denser, and smoother, partly because it relies more on milk than cream and doesn’t use eggs yolks. Traditionally, it’s served at a warmer temperature than traditional ice cream, which allows the intense flavor to hit almost immediately.
It’ll be some time before any of us make it to Italy—the pandemic has halted the world’s travel plans—but, that doesn’t mean we can’t try to capture some of the magic through one of its greatest exports. Here are seven places to find great gelato scoops in metro Atlanta.
The creation of three friends—Jackson Smith, Wes Jones and Khatera Ballard—Honeysuckle adds a Southern twist on their gelato. Their stall in Ponce City Market (temporarily closed due to the pandemic) features flavors such as brown butter crunch and bourbon pecan praline. The spring flavor lineup includes creme brulee, honey lavender, and lemon basil blackberry.
Honeysuckle is currently selling pints and novelty treats (think gelato cakes and sorbet pops) out of their headquarters in the West End’s Lee + White development. 1024 White Street Southwest
Italian native Paolo Dalla Zorza opened his eponymous gelato shop in Virginia-Highland 20 years ago. The cozy shop is filled with eclectic Italian decor and a cannoli bar in addition to their gelato case.
Once the pandemic began, they renovated their exterior to create a convenient takeout window. There are more than 60 flavors in the lineup, including cioccolato al latte (milk chocolate), zabaione (a custardy, marsala-forward flavor), and fruits of the forest (berries). 1025 Virginia Ave Northeast, 404-607-0055
This Avondale Estates shop is the brainchild of Meridith Ford, a former AJC food critic-turned-gelato maker (she used to oversee Novo Cucina’s program—more on them below), and features about a dozen rich, deeply flavored gelatos. The flavors rotate, but keep an eye out for Cherry Baby (cherry preserves and dark chocolate mixed into milky gelato), blueberry cheesecake, and Mexican hot chocolate. They also have have milkshakes (with or without booze) and cakes. The shop is set to re-open for patio-only seating on May 29. 2657 East College Avenue, Decatur, 404-578-2739
Dulce Artisan Gelato
Located in downtown Woodstock, Dulce prides itself on crafting small-batch gelato. Standout flavors here include brownie brittle, lemon cookie crunch, and Ferrero Roche—but the flavors change often. If you’re looking for something extra refreshing, they offer a sorbettini, a blend of tangy sorbet and sparkling water. The shop is currently open for both takeout and curbside pickup. 440 Chambers Street, Woodstock, 770-635-7644
A Dunwoody hotspot, everything is made in-house at this restaurant’s gelato bar. Standout flavors include coffee chocolate chip, strawberry, and a dark chocolate sorbet. If you need a caffeine buzz, try an affogato—a shot of espresso is poured over a scoop of gelato. Novo Cucina recently reopened their sunroom with limited seating. 5592 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, 470-275-3000
This Inman Quarter shop—currently only open for takeout—has flavors including black cherry, pistachio, and vanilla bourbon. In addition to scoops, they have Belgian waffles and crepes if you want to pair your gelato with warm carbs. 299 North Highland Avenue Northeast, 470-875-5637
New York transplant Popbar opened in Alpharetta’s Halcyon development this past September. They closed temporarily at the beginning of the pandemic, but have since reopened for curbside, takeout, and delivery from Thursday through Sunday each week. As the name suggests, the gelato is served in pop form. Choose your flavor (snickerdoodle and salted caramel are popular options), a dip (milk, dark, or white chocolate) and then top it off with a crunchy topping like pistachios, sprinkles, hazelnuts, or pretzels. 6710 Town Square, Alpharetta, 470-294-2910