There’s more than meets the eye at G for Gelato on the corner of Jarvis and Adelaide. Tucked beyond the rows of gelato is an open kitchen with a menu of hearty Italian dishes which includes pizza and breakfast, and a comfortable, spacious seating area.
The tall electric oven behind the counters is the unassuming secret to one of the best, and probably most underrated, thin crust pizzas downtown. While traditional fire ovens give a nice char to the bottom of a pizza, its high heat often means that the pie can’t stay in the oven long enough for the dough to cook completely. The result is familiar – a droopy slice of pizza where the toppings drag off as you pull. Owner Shant Behesnilan explains to me that his electric oven produces an even, controlled heat at about half the temperature, and it turns out a fantastically thin but sturdy crust.
I was dubious as I detached my first slice of Maialina pizza – a meat lover’s paradise with spicy sausage and soppressata (a dry salami). To my surprise, the slice not only pulled clean, but it held up to Shant’s promise of structural integrity. There was no droop, and the first, crispy bite gave an audibly satisfying crunch.
But an excellent pizza needs more than just a good foundation; it requires a good sauce/cheese ratio balanced by an even distribution of toppings and flavours. I tried the Prosciutto Contadina (prosciutto, mushroom and shaved parmesean) next, and every bite gave an explosion of flavour combinations from all the promised toppings with nothing skimped. Pesto fans will want to try the Pollo Al Pesto (chicken, pesto, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, basil) with its delicious, freshly made, pine-nutty flavour, and the vegetarians need to get their hands on the Margherita dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Apart from the pizza, G for Gelato also caters to the breakfast/brunch crowd. The must-try is their Baked Eggs. Don’t let the simplicity of the name fool you – two eggs are baked in a casserole in an Italian twist to the shashuka, and similarly served with toast. However, what kicks this up a notch is the generous pile of candied pancetta. The sweet, sticky slices of cured pork belly draws out the tangy acidity of the tomato sauce and finishes with a light hint of basil.
It’s hard to imagine having room for dessert, but how can you leave a place named G for Gelato without trying their namesake? The gelato (and sorbets) are made in-house with fresh ingredients – fruits are purchased at the nearby St. Lawrence Market, and herbs are often from the chef’s garden. Shant tells me that he can turn anything into a frozen treat, which is why he enjoys experimenting with different flavour combinations. The Blueberry-Basil, often credited as a Soma’s creation, was actually first developed by his chef here. There’s many flavours that don’t see the light beyond the test kitchen, and after a bit of prodding, Shant admits that there was an ill-fated poutine flavour which he will reattempt less literally in the future.
I set out to try as many flavours as possible – flavours like Raspberry and Blood Orange taste exactly like the frozen version of the fruit, while the Mango-Fanta is fizzy on the tongue and tastes like mango and orange soda. The boozey flavours are delightfully heavy on the booze, with Tequila Mojito and Smokey Caramel Whiskey being standouts, and the fall flavours feature seasonal tastes such as Pumpkin Pie and Hazelnut Vanilla Latte. The Cinnamon Buns has pieces folded in, and the S’mores has graham crackers and marshmallows that has been toasted, smoked, and melted into the gelato. Incredibly, the Nutella has the exact same chewy, tacky texture of the real thing.
G for Gelato isn’t fancy or fussy, and doesn’t have a lot of frills. It is instead a humble and laidback spot with food that’s been thoughtfully made with care. As I finish my gelato (I finally settled on raspberry lemonade, mint and lavender), I see Shant laughing with some regulars. “Food can make you happy,” he says wryly, “and I want my food to make people happy.”
Original article @ http://tastetoronto.ca/