Friday, March 09, 2007

What The Jester Had For Dessert: Melt Gelato, Phoenix AZ

I have been to a godawful lot of gelaterias in the Phoenix area. They certainly are prolific. I can think of seven different companies, and close to a dozen total locations of said companies. There is now yet another player in this hot market, namely a Southern California based franchise operation called Melt (no relation to the bath and body product company of the same name). Their first location is open in Paradise Valley Mall, with a second location set to open soon in Superstition Springs Mall in Mesa.

I went over there to try it today, and was vastly underwhelmed. I was impressed by their selection, with what looked like about 32 different flavors. They offer three sizes of gelato; a one-flavor small, a two-flavor large, and the Bambino, a selection of eight mini-scoops. They do also offer espresso drinks and a variety of sweet and savory crepes; these were not tasted on this trip. Since I wanted to get as big of a taste of their product line as possible, my friend Bellana and I naturally split the Bambino. We got the double dark chocolate, strawberry cheesecake, burgundy cherry, açai mixed berry sorbet, raspberry sorbet, butter pecan, cookies & cream, and Tropical (piña colada). I also tried samples of the tequila lime gelato and pomegranate sorbet. The best of them was the açai mixed berry, but it was plagued with an iciness that often comes from the product being taken in and out of a hard freeze. Many of the gelati had a very gummy, almost gluey texture that just didn't give the right mouthfeel. On top of this, the flavors just weren't deep enough. I could barely notice a difference between the cookies & cream and the burgundy cherry if it wasn't for the telltale bits of cherry in the latter. It is one of the slicker looking gelaterias in town, coming close to rivaling the cheerful colors of Arlecchino, and the service is personable and friendly, but those will only get you so far when the product itself is lacking so much. In retrospect, I shouldn't be all that surprised. I looked at their website, and most of it is about franchis opportunities. This is definitely a Chowhound's red flag; the company shows this way that they care more about opening new locations than about creating a great product.

Melt Gelato
4568 E Cactus Road
Phoenix, AZ
Paradise Valley Mall Food Court

Open For: Lunch, Dinner
Food: 2 (textures were off, flavors need to be stronger)
Service: 3 (Nice people, and they didn't mind us sampling several flavors while we made up our minds)
Atmosphere: 4 (Clean, modern, and metallic)
Value: 3 (Right around what everyone else is charging)
Kid Friendly? 4 (Come on, it's ice cream!)
Price: 1 (inexpensive)
Overall: 3 (It was OK, certainly nothing to go out of one's way for)