Raise your hand if you think gelato is far superior to ice cream. We'd throw up our hands, too, if we weren't currently typing this post. Why is gelato better? First, it contains less butterfat, which means it is less solidly frozen, which means it melts in the mouth faster, creating an immediate taste explosion. Second, gelato is much denser than ice cream since no air is added. The result is a richer, creamier concoction. Lastly, gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, making it easier and more enjoyable to eat (i.e. no instant brain freeze). We put two gelato brands to the test, choosing Tahitian vanilla as the flavor du jour because vanilla can't hide a whole lot of flaws. Or can it?
This long time staple of freezer sections everywhere has a lot of body and substance. It's what you expect gelato to taste like - smooth and rich with just the right amount of melt. While it has a higher serving temperature, Ciao Bella doesn't succumb like a snowman under a heat lamp when you dig your spoon into the carton. It holds its own. Looking at the list of ingredients that include both Tahitian vanilla and vanilla bean specks, we fully expected this gelato to be the equivalent of taking a hit off of a bottle of vanilla extract, but that wasn't the case. The flavor was delightful.
Talenti's flavor is sweeter, and the consistency much lighter, than Ciao Bella. It actually tastes a little like frozen milk. The ingredients are almost as simple: milk, sugar, cream, powdered milk, vanilla lemon and guar gum. Talenti's slick packaging is dotted with icons to let you know that it's not only recyclable, but its contents are hormone free, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) free, kosher, gluten free and vegetarian. The flavor of Talenti's Tahitian gelato was wonderful, but we were put off by how easily it melted. Not two minutes in our bowl and we already had a glistening puddle. An all-natural puddle, but a puddle nonetheless.
Both brands of gelato have a prominent, natural vanilla flavor. And while both are very similar in taste, only one is superior in texture: Ciao Bella for the win.