With a name like Al Gelato, you kind of expect to be walking into a gelato shop. This is not the case with Al Gelato in Beverly Hills. Sure, the place has gelato, but it is also a full-on Italian restaurant. Aside from realizing that it wasn’t just a gelato place, I also found that Al Gelato didn’t carry a lot of the pretension that Italian restaurants seem to have. There was no mood lighting, no fancy table cloths and no people with strange accents that weren’t quite Italian. Despite this, I found that the prices still fell into what you would expect in Beverly Hills, with very little under 10 bucks and pasta prices jumping up to 15 if you wanted any meat.
I decided to go with my favorite pasta, gnocchi. This came with their house marinara sauce. The girlfriend and I also decided to split a giant meatball, which also came in that marinara sauce. Both of these came out at the same time and I quickly forgot about the prices I had thought were too high. That meatball was truly giant, while the bowl of gnocchi was massive. There was a leaf sitting on top of the gnocchi that was slightly unsettling, but I realized it was basil and not some terrible vegetable invader. Good thing for Al Gelato. I jumped into the huge bowl of gnocchi and was amazed by the sauce. This stuff was damn good. It was really quite thin and just few levels of coagulation above being a soup. I soon realized what made it so good was that it was really sweet. I don’t know if this was from some crazy breed of tomato or a ton of sugar, but either way the sweetness became deliciousness on my tongue.
The gnocchi, on the other hand, could have used a bit of work. It seemed to be homemade, but the texture of it was far more spongy than gnocchi should be. I like my gnocchi to almost melt in my mouth, while this needed some heavy chewing. Fortunately, anything would have tasted good in this sauce. The meatball, due to being meaty and not spongy, happened to go much better with the sauce. Even without the sauce, I expect the meatball would have made me happy.
After finishing up the meal and getting our bill, we grabbed our credit cards to pay the bill. We were immediately told that they don’t accept credit cards. Seriously? Beverly Hills in 2010 and you don’t accept credit cards? And who carries around cash these days? Definitely not my girlfriend or me. So after a 20 minute walk to the nearest ATM (which was lucky enough to be Bank of America), I was finally ready to pay my bill. This was a rough way to end the meal and although this didn’t reflect on the food quality, it reflected on my personal opinion of the place.
So for some damn good marinara sauce, decent pasta and delicious meatballs, check out Al Gelato, but make sure to stop by the ATM before dinner.