Berkeley

Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana

Flavor King Pluot sorbet from Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana. Photo: Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana/Facebook
Flavor King Pluot sorbet from Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana. Photo: Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana/Facebook

While there are several popular spots for scooping into a cup of gelato in Berkeley, Caravaggio is hands down the best. Each flavor is made with exacting detail by owner Emiliano Cecchetti for a rich, thick treat. Cecchetti makes all of the milk-based gelatos lactose-free, and most ingredients are organic and/or locally sourced. Vegan sorbets are also on point, with intense fruit flavors and not much else — just as they should be. Caravaggio is at 1797 Shattuck Ave. (between Delaware and Francisco streets), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible. Connect with the gelateria on Facebook.

Ici Ice Cream

College Avenue’s Ici Ice Cream, which was voted among the city’s best ice cream shops by Berkeleyside readers in 2011, is always crowded with fans clamoring for a scoop or two. This swarm grows exponentially on Berkeley’s rare hot summer afternoons and balmy evenings. In addition to the traditional chocolate, vanilla, and fruit flavors, which are made in the store with local and organic ingredients when possible, Ici also offers a variety of unique combinations. On a recent weekday, the flavors included Earl Grey, Honey Lavender, and Chicory Coffee. Ici Ice Cream is at 2948 College Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible. Connect with the ice cream shop on Facebook and Twitter.

Stateside Bakery

“Ore-Oh” cookies from Stateside Bakery are made with Valrhona chocolate with Clover sweet cream butter, heavy cream and Madagascar vanilla bean. ($3.25 each). Photo: Benjamin Seto
“Ore-Oh” cookies from Stateside Bakery are made with Valrhona chocolate with Clover sweet cream butter, heavy cream and Madagascar vanilla bean. Photo: Benjamin Seto

The minuscule bakery at Telegraph and Ashby has been churning out reimagined “childhood classics” since 2014. Stateside Bakery was opened by Kate McEachern, the owner of the popular CupKates trucks, and the name reflects the fact that her treats can only be found “stateside.” (It has since been sold to Angel Cruzado.) Think Madagascar vanilla Twinkies, housemade Oreos, oatmeal cream pies and strawberry Pop-Tarts. The best part? Stateside’s made-with-pronounceable-ingredients versions are scrumptious — enough to garner an impressive legion of Yelp fans, proclaiming statements like, “Holy cow this stuff is delicious.” Stateside Bakery is at 3001 Telegraph Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley. Wheelchair accessible. Connect with the bakery on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Oakland

Curbside Creamery

Curbside Creamery soft serve swirl. Photo: Curbside Creamery
Curbside Creamery soft serve swirl. Photo: Curbside Creamery

While this reporter generally prefers a simple, well-made vanilla or pistachio ice cream to just about any funky, unique flavor, I’ll admit that the vegan Thai Iced Tea ice cream from Curbside was one of my favorite bites this year. Not too sweet, with robust black tea tannins and subtle nuttiness from the coconut milk base, it is memorable for its restraint as much as for its creamy texture. Curbside’s dairy-based ice creams are also excellent; try them in a sandwich or in a house-made waffle cone. Curbside Creamery is at 482 49th St. (at Telegraph Avenue), Oakland. Wheelchair accessible. Connect with the ice cream shop on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Smitten Ice Cream

A Brr machine at work at Smitten. Ice cream is made to order, as you watch. Photo: Alex Loescher
A Brr machine at work at Smitten. Ice cream is made to order, as you watch. Photo: Alex Loescher

The San Francisco-based ice cream shop opened in Rockridge in April 2014, and it serves unique made-to-order desserts using liquid nitrogen. Owner Robin Sue Fisher concocted the concept for Smitten based on a hunch that there should be a way to perfect the freezing process of ice cream, one that would prevent ice crystals from forming and make for a smoother product. By using liquid nitrogen, at -321 degrees Fahrenheit, Fisher developed an ultra-cold churning process. The result is a trademarked Brrr machine (with three patents for the technology), which makes each ice cream to order from scratch in minutes. And it’s not just a gimmick — Smitten’s ice creams are some of the best, most intensely flavored around — try the TCHO chocolate for a demonstration on why simple, quality ingredients are truly swoon-worthy. At $5 for a small serving, the ice cream is not cheap, but it’s worth the trip for an occasional treat. Smitten is at 5800 College Ave. (at Birch Court), Oakland. Wheelchair accessible. Connect with the ice cream shop on Facebook and Twitter.

Readers’ Picks

Chocolate mousse, Crixa Cakes. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Chocolate mousse, Crixa Cakes. Photo: Emilie Raguso

“Sweet Adeline is the BEST bakery in town and their chocolate cream pie is so, so good!!” — Nosh reader

Our Readers’ Picks listing is compiled from our reader survey conducted in early 2016. We’ve listed the top five reader choices in Berkeley, Oakland and Beyond for each meal.

Berkeley:

Crixa Cakes 2748 Adeline St. #C (between Stuart and Ward streets)
Masse’s Pastries 1469 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street)
Cheese Board Collective 1512 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street)
Sweet Adeline 3350 Adeline St. (at 63rd Street)
Ici Ice Cream 2948 College Ave. (at Ashby Avenue)

Oakland:

La Farine 6323 College Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), 4094 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st Street) and 3411 Fruitvale Ave. (at Bienati Way)
Peet’s Multiple locations; see website
Fenton’s Creamery 4226 Piedmont Ave. (at Entrada Avenue)
C.R.E.A.M. 6300 College Ave. (at Claremont Avenue)

Beyond:

As You Wish Frozen Yogurt 1205 Solano Ave. (at Cornell Avenue), Albany
Tucker’s Ice Cream 1349 Park St. (at Alameda Avenue), Alameda

Readers’ Pick