Cremolose is not just the newest Italian Cafe in downtown San Diego, it’s a new type of gelato that is fresh-fruit based with a creamy texture of fruit, zest, or nut mixture. We were fortunate enough to attend the Grand Opening of a unique venue in the Gaslamp district named after this fresh flavor. The restaurant drew in a surprising crowd for the event which featured hosted appetizers, cocktails, bite sized deserts, gelato and, of course, cremolose. Cremolose is to gelato what gelato is to ice cream – it’s much truer in flavor to its fruit or nut roots than either ice cream or gelato and without all the superfluous dairy.
The vibe of the cafe is vibrant, colorful, and open. As we walk in, we are greeted by a full bar to our left and a glass case of gelato and deserts to our right, making which to attack first an extremely tough choice. Weaving through the crowd, we push a little further and quickly notice the case of meats, cheeses, and salads as well as a chalkboard menu boasting a wide assortment of paninis and pizzas. We decide to start with some savory sustenance and save the desserts for later.
We start with a few plates of the featured appetizers and a couple glasses of wine. The highlight of the plates is a ham, cheese and béchamel filled crostini. The mini pizzas and risotto balls are satisfying enough to go back for complimentary seconds but not something we would otherwise order off the menu. The full size pizzas coming out of the wood burning oven, however, look fantastic and are enough to pique our curiosity for a return trip. On this night, these pizzas appear to be reserved for those in attendance who have some personal affiliation with the owners. In fact, it’s quickly beginning to feel like we’ve stumbled upon a San Diego episode of The Sopranos and it’s evident who in this restaurant “belongs” and who is just visiting. So, we settle for sampling the desserts.
Knowing we’ll eventually get to the namesake dessert, we start with the sample plates of miniature tarts and cream puffs. Neither is exceptional but perusing the other items inside the display case, it’s hard not to be curious about the possibilities. We decide, like the pizzas, they’ll have to wait for a subsequent visit. Thus far, the promise of this place and what they have to offer is more intriguing than what we’ve actually experienced. With that, we move to the gelato.
Cremolose (the restaurant, not the dessert) is extremely accommodating for those of us who are undecided about what we want to order and offer us tastes of any flavors of gelato or cremolose before we commit to a selection. Among the samples we try are pistachio, prickly pear, and red orange. However, I am ultimately seduced by both the macaroon and lemon and Genesis can’t pass up the figs and cream. We are pleased with our choices and immediately agree that this is the culinary highlight of the evening. We will definitely be returning on a warm afternoon to again enjoy this refreshing treat.
While not everything was a home run at the grand opening, we both agree that this new place has a lot of promise and is worth checking out for the full experience. A hip vibe, some promising menu options, and weekend hours until 4 am, this place is bound to attract the tourists and trendsetters alike.