Better than Italy: Take a Trip to Gelato Paradiso

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On a recent family trip to Tuscany, my sister and I spent our time taking photos, buying one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and exploring the city streets, but most of our time was spent inside gelato shops — we’re suckers for the stuff. 

And we’re not the only ones. 

The sweet Italian treat has been gaining popularity over the last decade. Short of packing a bag and booking a flight to Florence, Gelato Paradiso is the next best thing to truly authentic, made-in-Italy gelato — and truth be told, it may even be better. 

Authentic is the name of the game at Gelato Paradiso, where they’ve been churning out artisan gelato since 1999. Now with four locations -- in Newport Beach, San Diego, Coronado Island, and Laguna Beach -- it’s easy to see why they’ve become a Southern California favorite. 

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Using a secret Sicilian recipe and ingredients imported direct from Italy, their gelato is handmade every morning to the delight of local kids (and kids at heart). Their flavors are passed down through generations of gelato makers and are both traditional and modern (think: Biscotti e Crema topped with chunks of Oreo cookies). 

With a way of looking at desserts as an art form rather than a simple sweet treat, Gelato Paradiso crafters spend their mornings making gelato, sorbets, cakes, shakes, and coffees with fresh fruit, artisanal cocoas, and flavorful extracts for the brightest flavors. 

And presentation is never overlooked. Piles of swirled gelato with drizzles of chocolate, caramel, and strawberry sauce are topped with bright berries, roasted nuts, coffee beans, and cookie crumbles making them a treat for the eyes and the stomach. Make sure you get a few pics for the ‘Gram next time you’re in, or grab a boomerang of them shaping freshly-made waffles into ice cream cones.

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With 30 different flavors of gelato, there’s a variety of ways to get your fix in. In addition to the tried and true sugar cone, try an Affogato al Cafe (a gelato topped with espresso) or a Gelappe (a combination of gelato blended with espresso and milk -- basically the world’s best frappuccino). As an added bonus, there’s always a new flavor of the month — a special that taps into the ingredients of the season. 

If you’re one of the rare people who aren’t big on gelato — or maybe you’re just lactose intolerant (we feel you), Gelato Paradiso also offers dairy-free sorbets that will give you flashbacks to the summers of your childhood. The sorbettos are almost all fruit-based and perfect for summer with flavors like mango, bacche, lampone, and limone. Whether you’re choosing a traditional gelato or a light and tart summer sorbet, everything here is a treat for the senses... just like a trip to Italy.

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Marissa Stempien is a freelance editor and writer that loves a good list of goals and thinks everyone should have a vision board. With a degree in English Literature and a minor in Asian Studies, she has written on travel, fashion, beauty, technology, culture, and food, and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. Find Marissa on social media at @paperandlights.

Photos by: Grant Puckett.