Wonderful Italian Gelato & Pastas - Bulgarini Gelato [Thoughts + Pics]


This is why Leo has basically ruined me for pasta at just about every other place in LA (except for maybe Cento)


Makes sense. And when you get to end with that gelato? Come on.

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Thanks for this. So just to be clear, if I want to go get pasta there with someone, I should call ahead and ask if they’re serving it that night? How far ahead to call? I really want to do it, but Altadena is such a trek for me that I need it to work out (otherwise my SO will murder me).


To be safe, plan a couple of days in advance. Its possible to do same day, but if Leo isn’t at the shop then there won’t be anyone there to set it up.
Also, let him know the scope of what you want to do. Focaccia? Cannoli? Tiramisu? If you talk to him a bit and let him set up a bit then you’ll be even happier.


Hi @Haeldaur,

We’ve called before heading out. That’s more than enough time, at least every time we’ve gone.

If it’s for the Pasta + Meat Entree Dinner, that does require a few days ahead call (usually Leo does them on Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday). But will prepare something on any day of the week IIRC, if you all ahead a few days and arrange it.

The last time we had just Pasta (delicious as usual), we called before driving out, so maybe a couple hours ahead of time to confirm Leo was there and had Pastas / Sauces in stock.

Edit: Just re-read your post. If you want to plan a dinner (even if it’s just their awesome Handmade Pastas), yah what frommtron said is better: Call a few days ahead of time to make sure Leo will be there and let him know which Pastas / Sauces you want, and definitely get their Handmade Focaccia Bread (let him know).

You can probably try just Pasta and Gelato on your first trip. :slight_smile:


If I’m getting a pint to go (or more than a pint) do they give out those cold bags or should I bring a cooler? Thanks!


Bring a cooler. Dry ice preferable if you have a long-ish drive…
Pistachio gelato costs just a bit more than the other gelatos there. FYI.


This would be overkill for a pint or two of gelato but we LOVE it.


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As we were preparing to head over, we realized our cooler was at my parent’s house. Anyway, the gelato survived a 25 minute drive home. I kept the air conditioning in the car to 58 though!

My goodness it is amazing. Did a half kilo of pistachio and a half kilo of vanilla. Pistachio is $40 a half kilo. Vanilla was like 27.50 or something I think? So that equates to $80 for pistachio for a kilo and $55 for vanilla (and other non-premium flavors.)

Worth it? Not often, but certainly occasionally.


Glad you liked Leo Bulgarini’s amazing Pistachio Gelato. :slight_smile:

Yah for the prices / kilo, we end up just stopping by to enjoy a scoop (or two or three) once in a while, that way it doesn’t seem to hit the pocketbook as much. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:


Were you the one who took the last of the vanilla on Saturday? :thinking:


Oh gosh I am certainly guilty of that. :sleepy:


That’s some FTCer-on FTCer crime, right there…


Update 4:

What does it say about a tiny, humble Italian Gelato maker when in the cold of Winter, you have a craving for a sweet Dessert and you suddenly find yourself at the front door of said Italian Gelato maker?

Leo Bulgarini, the Italian Gelato Maestro, Chef and Sommelier needs no introduction, but it is a testament to the quality of his Gelato and Pastas that it can compel us to drive all the way to his tiny shop in Altadena in Winter to experience the joy that are his Handmade Gelato creations.

Nocciola (Hazelnut) Gelato:

Fragrant, nutty, so aromatic. It is incredible how full of pure Hazelnut flavor this is! This tastes like he ground up hundreds of pounds of high quality, fresh toasted Hazelnuts and froze it into this awesome creation! :heart:

Pistacchio (Pistachio) Gelato:

Bulgarini’s most famous frozen offering is the oft-talked about Pistachio Gelato, sourced from a specific Pistachio farmer in Italy. It seems these days Leo has managed to get a reliable shipment of these Italian Pistachios on a regular basis because it’s always available whenever we’ve stopped by.

It is just as incredible as the Hazelnut Gelato, and will ruin your impression of “Gelato” after eating this. :heart:

On another visit:

Bulgarini gives out free samples, and pretty much every flavor we tried made us want to just get a scoop of it, but we sadly didn’t have @J_L or @PorkyBelly or @kevin to survive a One Of Everything attempt. :wink:

The Tiramisa Gelato was outstanding. The Banana Gelato tasted like pure frozen Bananas. The Macadamia Gelato was eye-opening, just pure Macadamia Nut flavor. :slight_smile:

Handmade Focaccia:

Toasted crunchy, a blast of Sea Salt and oh-so-fragrant Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We devoured the plate even though I was cutting back carbs. :sweat_smile: :blush:

Pappardelle al Sugo di Carne:

We have to stop and marvel at how driven and how much Leo Bulgarini must love his craft. Not only does he have to handmake 10+ flavors of pure amazing Gelato to offer each day, but he finds time to spend over 6 hours slow-cooking down his Sugo di Carne (Meat Sauce) for this Pasta dish!

Taking a bite:

This is the reason @ipsedixit @J_L and so many others proclaim Leo Bulgarini the best Italian in the city.

Just beautiful, pure, genuine, outstanding Pappardelle in this deeply, soul-satisfying Meat Sauce! SO GOOD! :heart:

Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce:

Bulgarini’s Gnocchi are like soft, fluffy pillows, so light and airy. They could be mistaken for eating clouds and you would not be wrong. Beautifully herbal, vegetal and outstanding Handmade Pesto! :heart:

Crema di Limone (Lemon Cream) Gelato:

Real, natural Lemon flavors. There’s a beautiful uplifting citrus backnote in every bite of this creamy Gelato.

Stracciatella (Chocolate Chip) Gelato:

I loved the crunchiness of the chopped up Dark Chocolate Chips (imported from Italy), which imparted a more mature, enticing flavor to pair with the delicate Gelato base.

Nocciola (Hazelnut) Gelato:

Still wonderful! :heart:


Handmade Focaccia:

Perfect starter.

Tagliatelle con Sugo di Carne (Handmade Egg Pasta with Tomato Meat Sauce):

Thinner and more delicate than his Pappardelle, this somehow tasted even more deeply savory and unctuous and satisfying compared to our last visit.

This is seriously one of L.A.'s best Pasta dishes. It’s so satisfying! :heart:

Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Wide Egg Pasta with Marinated Boar):

Leo Bulgarini has been talking about making a Wild Boar Pasta for a long time. On this visit, he finally had it on the menu! We were so excited to try it. :slight_smile:

Firstly, it is a bit too chewy and lean. However, the flavor of the Boar itself is incredible: It’s bold, gamy (in a good way, totally different from Lamb or Mutton), and the flavors infused in the Boar and in the Pasta itself was a great match. It was just too tough, unfortunately.

Pici All’ Aglione (Hand-Rolled Pasta with Garlic Tomato Sauce):

This was a surprise: The Pici Pasta was a fat Spaghetti, but it had real body and density to it. Cooked al dente, this was a departure from Leo’s Egg-Based Pastas (that are inherently softer). It held up well to the incredible Tomato Garlic Sauce that Leo makes. Delicious! :blush:


What’s the best way to put this?

If you love puppies, life, or anything good in this world, do yourself a favor and order a plate of Leo Bulgarini’s Handmade Lasagna! :heart: :smile: :heart:


We loved Angelini Osteria’s Lasagna Verde when @ipsedixit recommended it. But Leo Bulgarini’s Lasagna was an order of magnitude better! :open_mouth:

There was this indescribable happiness that welled up inside of me when I was eating bite after bite of this deeply umami, savory, luscious, outstanding Lasagna that tasted like the most loving Italian Grandma made it just for you and you’re in her kitchen enjoying it. :heart:


(Note this is a Special Only. Call ahead and ask when Leo is going to make another batch.)

Vaniglia (Vanilla) Gelato:

If you ever thought “Vanilla” might be not worth ordering, you haven’t had Leo Bulgarini’s Vaniglia (Vanilla) Gelato. It has ruined me on ordering any other Vanilla Gelato or Ice Cream from anywhere else. A gorgeous, real Vanilla flavor comes out with every bite. This isn’t some synthetic, watered-down version. This is just pure joy! :heart:

Pistacchio (Pistachio) Gelato:

Still awesome!

Fresh Roasted Italian Chestnuts:

Growing up, hearing Nat King Cole’s mellifluous voice singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” I never knew what “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” might taste like. Here on the West Coast that wasn’t a thing. :stuck_out_tongue: But I didn’t think much of it.

Until we had Leo Bulgarini actually roast Chestnuts flown in from Italy on an open fire for us! :open_mouth:

These were INCREDIBLE! :heart:

Now I feel deprived as a child for never having these. :wink: :cry: :smile:

They were served piping hot, right off the fire and cracking them open and eating these Italian Chestnuts… they were creamy, lightly nutty and unlike anything I had ever had before! :heart:

Another Visit:

We were visiting our friends in Pasadena during the New Year and just had to stop by again.

Handmade Focaccia:

Excellent again.

Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Wide Egg Pasta with Marinated Boar):

We wanted to give the Wild Boar Pasta another chance. This time the Wild Boar was a bit more tender, but still quite lean and firm. Still too firm and dry for our tastes unfortunately. But the Wild Boar Sauce was truly standout: Deeply meaty and unabashedly gamy and savory. If the Wild Boar were fattier and more tender, this would be outstanding.

Pappardelle al Pesto:

Thankfully everything was made right with the outstanding Pappardelle with his incredible Housemade Pesto Sauce! So satisfying. :heart:

Nocciola (Hazelnut) Gelato:

Mountain Pear with Fennel Gelato:

Just as @attran99 mentioned last month, Bulgarini’s Mountain Pear with Fennel Gelato (he had 3 different Pear Flavors on this visit) was a must order! Pure, chilled, gorgeous Mountain Pear flavor, and the accent of real Fennel herbs complemented each bite. :slight_smile:

Pesca Sorbetto (Peach Sorbet):

This tasted like the total distillation of vibrant ripe Peaches in frozen form. So good! :blush:

Stracciatella (Chocolate Chip) Gelato:

Another Visit:

Handmade Focaccia:

Ribollita Toscana (White Bean Soup with Seasonal Greens):

At this point, we can only declare that Leo Bulgarini is one of the most underrated culinary talents in L.A. churning out gem after gem that the vast majority of Angelenos will never try.

How else can you describe it when upon taking a sip of his new Ribollita Toscana Soup, you are hit with a taste of the most delicious, satisfying, humble and delicious Italian White Bean Soup you have ever had?

It’s hearty, but light, really savory, but there’s no meat(!), just Italian Cannellini Beans, Rosemary, Tuscan Kale, Tomatoes, slow cooked down to a Stew-like consistency.

It just felt like it nourished us to our core. SO GOOD! :heart:

(Special) Duck Pasta:

Leo mentioned he was trying out a new recipe on this evening. An Italian Duck Pasta(!). Sadly, the Duck itself suffered a similar fate as the Wild Boar: Just too firm and slightly chewy. :frowning: But the flavors in the Duck itself were outstanding with a good poultry flavor coming through and White Wine and Herbs.

Spaghetti al Sugo di Carne:

As incredible as always. Loved the pairing with the fresh Spaghetti that was just made earlier that day. :blush:

Cioccolato All’ Arancia (Chocolate Orange) Gelato:

I missed his Cioccolato All’ Arancia (Chocolate Orange) Gelato. You’re first hit with a real, complex, bold Dark Chocolate flavor (Leo Bulgarini uses Valrhona Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa), and then this bright, citrus Orange and Orange Zest comes shining through. It is fantastic and so distinct! :heart:

Nocciola (Hazelnut) Gelato:

OK, this might be blasphemous but I think I like the Nocciola (Hazelnut) Gelato more than the famous Pistachio Gelato. Don’t kill me! :sweat_smile:

BUT, what’s even more incredible is we found a new flavor hack!

Try mixing a bit of the Dark Chocolate & Orange Gelato with the absolute nuttiness and fragrant aroma of the Hazelnut Gelato.

MAGIC! :heart:

Bulgarini Gelato continues to deliver the most incredible Gelato in the City of Angels. Leo Bulgarini is working on another level, delivering incredible flavors that change with the seasons. Don’t miss out on the Italian Pistachio or Hazelnut Gelato, and go from there.

But it would be a disservice to stop by Bulgarini and not try what might be one of the best Pasta experiences in the city. Be sure to try his 3 core Handmade Sauces: Sugo di Carne, a 6 Hour Slow Braised Meat Sauce that is beyond extraordinary. Or the incredible herbal, lovely Pesto. Or the Ripasata / Aglione, which is a 4 Hour Slow Cooked Tomato, Garlic and Herb Sauce that puts to shame most Tomato Sauces in the city.

And if you ever see the Lasagna on the menu, don’t miss out.

Note: Be sure to call ahead to confirm they are open (their hours can sometimes vary).

Bulgarini Gelato
749 E. Altadena Drive
Altadena, CA 91001
Tel: (626) 791-6174



And now I want Leo’s gelato. You are truly the best, @Chowseeker1999…always so concise and you make me hungry when I just finished eating.


Thanks @attran99! :slight_smile: Have you tried all 3 of Bulgarini’s core Pasta Sauces / Pastas? :slight_smile:


@Chowseeker1999 I have had 3 of his sauces and 3 of his pastas. The night I went, there were 3 of us and we each got a completely different combination so we could maximize our trip. Each was delightful…easily some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. I need to go back for the boar…with the husband’s busy schedule, it’s been hard to coordinate a night…and then the dilemma of whether or not to include the chowpups.

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Dang, homie! That’s like 4,506,122 steps on the treadmill!

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Leo does a lasagna!! This is highly highly relevant to my interests


Don’t remind me. :sob: