Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego— Calling all gelato addicts, pizza connoisseurs, seafood lovers and happy hour enthusiasts to the very first Cremolose in the U.S.
With more than 40 locations throughout Europe, owner Vicenzo Loverso from Palermo, Italy brings to California a little taste of Italy in the very heart of downtown San Diego. Cremolose is “the new Italian sensational experience” in San Diego’s oldest and most historic Victorian-era shopping district.
Adding its own history and flair to Gaslamp Quarter, the cafe’s European flavors are bound to make you wonder, “What exactly is Cremolose?” The name glides off the tongue as easily as the slushy-like texture that will graze your palate with the first taste. It’s a delightfully dense, semi-frozen dessert made with fresh fruit or nuts. With a selection of more than 24 imported gelato flavors, you’ll indubitably want to leave room to indulge. In addition to its low calorie food, free of artificial coloring and preservatives, the restaurant offers an extensive selection of cakes, pastries and Sicilian cannoli delights worth salivating for.
Directly across the impressive display of mouthwatering pastries is an inviting bar with a generous selection of red and white wines, 55 whiskeys, 19 domestic and micro-brewed beers alongside two large plasma screen TVs specifically catered to sports fans.
The secret: Cremolose serves as a base for several of the bar’s specialty drinks. The restaurant is modernly adorned with red and beige Italian decor and embellished with tin ceiling decals, resembling Andy Warhol’s studio known as The Factory, which complemented the 1960’s music selection of the day. Adjacent to the gelato is a colorful chalkboard displaying the wood-fired pizza menu that can be purchased by the slice for
$3.50. Cafe by day, happy hour friendly from 3-7 p.m. daily with a fully equipped bar, Cremolose transforms into a spacious restaurant upstairs with private dining at night offering a variety of entrees from steaks, wood-fire pizza, panini’s, seafood, gelato and other specialty desserts.
Loverso first opened the restaurant Grotto Italiano in New Jersey in 1988, and later opened eateries in downtown San Diego, Hillcrest and Las Vegas.
The goal, however, is to attract locals with its versatile menu and modern European ambiance. The general manager, Victoria Rossi, explained with great enthusiasm the vision of Cremolose as a unique experience for all species of San Diegans.
“We want to appeal especially to the locals and build a community,” Rossi explained. She plans to start weekly Taco Tuesdays and Wine Wednesdays, in addition to the pizza-by-the-slice deals and happy hour specials. “During the weekend, we have a full restaurant, private dining, play upbeat music and the bar stays open until 3:30 a.m. We’ve even had people hang around until 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.”
As I was reviewing my check, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played in the background and I couldn’t help but think that Cremolose is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for adults who have an appreciation for good happy hour deals, but without the creepy oompa loompas. Instead, there was a friendly staff that didn’t hesitate to offer me samples of their freshly baked cookies and pastries, and keep me informed about the day’s specials. In an attempt to relish in the Italian bistro, I ordered the stuffed eggplant lasagna, bruschetta and a basket of parmesan and truffle fries to satisfy my American needs.
I was also on a mission to leave room for the Cremolose itself. The total bill was an affordable $14.73, and for the cherry on top, or in my case, the nuts on top of my creamy pistachio and tiramisu dessert, it was a delightful experience.
For the sweet-toothed college student who’s looking for a place with a variety of beers on tap and creative pizzas at an affordable price, Cremolose is an eccentric twist, in every sense of the word, to San Diego’s Gaslamp scene.