Bella Gelateria, located by the Vancouver Convention Centre on the main floor of the Fairmount Pacific Rim, specializes in artisan gelato made using classical Italian equipment and techniques. Fresh batches are made daily using high quality and seasonal ingredients. I had tried Bella’s Gewurztraminer sorbetto before on a trip to Vancouver last year. In October, when Vancouver Magazine released the list of the Best Things to Eat and Drink in Vancouver for 2011, I noticed Bella was mentioned for their Single Malt Gelato. I made it a point to stop by Bella in October while I was in town as I was hoping to have the opportunity to try the Single Malt Gelato.
Unfortunately when I went, the Single Malt Gelato was not available. Instead I got to sample some of the flavours. On this visit, I sampled the Torricino Honey Nougat, Earl Grey, Fig Walnut, and the Chocolate Noir 72%. The Earl Gray was delicate and complex. It is made with Mighty Leaf’s Earl Gray tea and I could taste the nuances. Mighty Leaf’s Earl Gray happen to be one of my favourite teas. I almost had my heart set on the Fig Walnut as I loved the freshness of the green figs. That was until I got to try a sample from the fresh batch of Chocolate Noir 72% that had just been made. I was smitten after the first bite. I’d never tasted gelato that was this rich and decadent. Normally, I’m not even a fan of chocolate ice cream or gelato. But this Chocolate Noir 72% is in a category of its own. Hence, I decided to get a scoop of the Chocolate Noir 72% in a waffle cone ($4.91 for one flavour; additional $0.45 for waffle cone). Normally, I might have assumed Chocolate Noir or Dark Chocolate would have a slight bitter edge. That was not the case with this Chocolate Noir gelato. It was intensely rich and creamy. It reminded me the center of a dark chocolate truffle. I’ve never had gelato this good before.
I loved that Chocolate Noir 72% so much I had to go back for a second fix a couple of days later. This time, not only did they have the Chocolate Noir 72%, the Chocolate Extra Noir 85% was also available. I tasted a sample of this Chocolate Extra Noir 85% and it became my new favourite. I would never have imagined there was something better than the Chocolate Noir 72%, but apparently the Chocolate Extra Noir 85% is the one to beat. On this visit, I also sampled other flavours such as the Chocolate Maldon Sea Salt, the Amarena Cherry, and the Tahitian Vanilla. Of this bunch, the Amarena Cherry was my favourite. Hence, I decided to get two flavours – Chocolate Extra Noir 85% and Amarena Cherry ($5.98 for two flavours in a cup). The Chocolate Extra Noir 85% was even more intense and decadent compared to the Chocolate Noir 72%. Again, I was impressed that it had no bitter edge despite the high concentration of cocoa. It contrasted nicely with the tanginess of the Amarena Cherry, which is a sour cherry. Together, these two flavours were a match made in heaven.
When I was back in town again in November, I couldn’t help but to stop at Bella again to see what new flavours they had. To our pleasant surprise, Yuzu sorbetto was available. I’d not seen this flavour before on previous visits. Immediately, I was drawn to it as I was still thinking about that yummy Yuzu Ice Cream that I had a Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen & Sushi Bar a couple of days earlier. When I initially walked through the door, I had my heart set on getting more of the Chocolate Noir gelato, either the 72% or 85% whichever was available. After sampling the Yuzu sorbetto, I decided that the Yuzu would be one of the flavours I wanted to get on this visit as it is not often available. Since the yuzu is very citrus-y and tart in taste, I didn’t think it would pair well with the Chocolate Noir gelato. Hence, I was looking for a second flavour that was lighter and would pair well with the Yuzu. I sampled the Sauvignon Blanc and the Matcha. I decided the Matcha was the best fit as it is a typical Japanese flavour along with the Yuzu. I ended up getting two flavours – Yuzu Sorbetto and Matcha Gelato in a Waffle Cone ($5.98 for two flavours; additional $0.45 for waffle cone). Our server had a little trouble getting the gelato/sorbetto to stay on the cone so she put the whole thing in a cup for us. It actually turned out to be quite a creative presentation. On its own, the Yuzu Sorbetto was actually quite tart compared to the Yuzu Ice Cream I had at Kishimoto as there was no cream to balance out the acidity. I was really glad we paired with the Matcha Gelato to balance things out.
By far, the gelato from Bella Gelateria is the best I’ve ever tasted. I’m really impressed at the care and the quality of the ingredients that Maestro James, the owner of Bella, puts in to producing this artisan gelato. I like that the gelato is produced in small batches and the flavours change almost daily so on every visit, there are always new flavours to try. After having experienced Bella’s gelato, I can never look at gelato the same way again. While this gelato at Bella doesn’t come cheap, I would chose quality over quantity any day.
1001 W Cordova Street