In July, we dug into the good, the bad, and the icy gelato offerings around town. But it appears one of the genre’s brightest stars escaped our greedy spoons. Yes. There is righteous gelato in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis, on the cobbled stones of Main Street. There is gelato at Wilde Roast Cafe.
Wilde Roast recently moved from their original home across the street from Brasa on Hennepin Ave. to a larger, darker, more luxurious spot on Main Street. It’s there that Pastry Chef Jeff Christianson gets busy in the kitchen crafting scratch gelato that rivals the stuff we love at Pandolfi.
On weekdays starting at 10am you’ll find at least six flavors on display near the counter ($4 for a single scoop, $5 for a double), and on weekends, all 12 slots in the gelato case are full by 10am, with flavors that rotate from a 24-seat roster. Christianson’s flavors sound ritzy and intriguing, and like any true incarnation of gelato, his is glossy and smooth as can be, melting the moment it touches your tongue with not the slightest ridge or hint of crystallization.
While I was initially turned off by the idea of the licorice (top photo, upper left), it turned out to be totally sigh-worthy. The unmistakable toe-curling anise quality of licorice is fattened and tamed in the sweet embrace of whole milk and sugar. I’m telling you, even the biggest licorice haters will repent at a bite of it.
The mango (above) was bright and piney and authentic, so that you expect to find actual hunks of the fruit in every silky bite (possibly Wilde Roast’s only downside — no actual bits of fruit!).
And the mysterious candied chestnut turned out to be a favorite, with its flawless meeting of almond, chai, and almost espresso-like undertones. It had a spiced and creamy chameleon of flavor, and I kept wondering if this is what the word gelato is supposed to taste like.
Wilde Roast Cafe, 65 Main St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414; 612.331.4544