Food Fight: Gelato

Fat Lorenzo's (l) and Jackson's (r) gelatos go mano a mano.
Fat Lorenzo's (l) and Jackson's (r) gelatos go mano a mano.

Gelato's one of those special occasion things, not just because, like double fudge brownies and strawberry milkshakes and apple pie a la mode, your GI tract's encounters with them should be fairly few and far between, but also because it's pretty damn hard to come by in these parts.

Well, gelato just got about twice as easy to come by, at least in Minneapolis. Fat Lorenzo's had the market cornered for a while now, which hasn't been a problem. Their product is the real deal: peanut butter-dense, lip smacking rich and creamy, complete with the familiar with the mini plastic spoon. But Jackson's Coffee & Gelato has entered the fray. Here's how they match up:

Jackson's Coffee & Gelato ,the newbie on the corner of Bryant and Lake right next to the Bryant Lake Bowl, sells coffee drinks and pastries and other small bites in its well-windowed corner space of Uptown. They have 12 different types of gelato, including, when I went there, disaronno amaretto, black chocolate, and four types of sorbets. I chose the milk chocolate, which cost $3.07 for a small. Even though it was called milk chocolate, it had more of the nuance of a dark, and I felt like I could actually taste cocoa in there.

Fat Lorenzo's is great for inducing a carb coma. In the summer it's a hot spot for people walking around Lake Nokomis. You can't miss their gelato case as you step in. It holds 12, which include familiars like vanilla and chocolate chip alongside unexpected flavors like grape. I had the chocolate, for purposes of comparison, which cost $3.23 for a small. Fat Lorenzo's was a slightly more generous helping than Jackson's. The gelato was thick and flavorful, but every 10 bites or so I got a distinct crunch, which turned out to be little bits of chocolate. There weren't enough to make it seem intentional, and they didn't taste bad, but it was still ... puzzling.

The Winner: The new kid knows where it's at. Both gelatos were solid contenders (and depending on what you want to pair your gelato with -- pizza and stromboli or espresso and and a scone -- you might fluctuate between the two), but Jackson's had extra dimension of flavor that gave it an edge over Fat Lorenzo's. Eating it was almost like drinking a good glass of wine -- rolling it around and trying to discern the different flavors and ingredients. Dork out with your own gelato and let us know what you think!

Jackson's Coffee & Gelato 822 W. Lake St. Mpls 612.824.4164

Fat Lorenzo's 5600 Cedar Ave. S Mpls 612.822.2040

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