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Restaurant Sun Jul 29 2007

Gelato Lounge

It's hard to believe, walking past bright and shiny new Ukrainian Village panini and gelato spot Piccolo, that just a few scant months ago it was the Lava Lounge. Gone are the pulsing, sweaty darkness and dance beats, and now light streams into an almost oversized open space accented with dusky brick and green walls the same inviting hue as the roasted pistachio gelato in the front freezer case.

Opening just a week ago today, Piccolo is a new joint venture by the team behind Small Bar, with culinary creations from former a Hot Chocolate-er. While the space still seems to be in a transitional mode and there's a distinct fresh-paint odor upon entering, Piccolo promises to bring back some diners to a long struggling corner (Just Baked, just across the street, has finally given up the ghost to Ceasar's Deli, which still seems unsure quite what to do with itself). Offering panini and bruschetta in a wide variety of combinations (from cured aged beef with pickled onion to the other end of the spectrum with Nutella and banana), it's the gelato that really caught my eye. Details after the fold.

Using all fresh ingredients (no frozen fruit purees or processed flavors) and the traditional milk-only composition, the gelato is made in-house in a rotating gallery of flavors. When we burst in, demanding dessert after brunch, just past 11am, they were still putting the tubs in the case and taste-testing to assign the proper identifying labels. The menu lists potential flavors, from izuki bean to mango to Mexican cocoa, although the flavors available day to day will change by season and demand. Current offerings included honey-lavender, Vietnamese cinnamon, coconut, peanut butter, cherry, chopped mint, Manjari (chocolate on steroids, I believe), and I thought I saw a lychee placard still waiting to be assigned when I made my order.

Two packed-to-the-brim cups, of raspberry and lemon-basil, topped out at $7. The raspberry was almost too cold to eat, and perfectly tart and rich in flavor as well as color. But the lemon-basil really got me. The aroma of the basil, that thick sweet summer garden smell, was nothing compared to the actual taste, surprisingly strong and in equal measure to the citrus. A few bites in and the lemon starts to take over, like the richest lemonade you've ever had, almost enough to sting the eyes with tears. In a good way. It's an intense cup of ice, though, any way you cut it. I can't wait to go back and try the chocolate, or the promised forthcoming cayenne. I've never had gelato that makes me sweat, but I bet if any place could pull it off, Piccolo could. Long hours (until 11pm on weekends) and the rest of the menu will have me back soon, in any case.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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