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Interview: Uli Nasibova of Gelateria Uli

January 8, 2018

There’s a new dessert place in town and it’s sure to become your new favorite. The weather in Los Angeles makes gelato a year-round treat, and you can indulge in some of the city’s best gelato at Gelateria Uli, which opened last fall on West 3rd Street.

With daily rotating flavors, plenty of vegan options and even a gelato treat for dogs(!), there literally is something for everyone at Gelateria Uli. We caught up with the shop owner (and namesake), Uli Nasibova to find out how she got started with gelato, why the shop is different from other places, and why she decided to open on West 3rd.

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1. When did your store launch and why did you decide to open?

I discovered my love for creating gelato recipes while I was still employed at an investment management firm. After eight years in the finance world, gelato became an outlet for my creative energy. I decided to leave my career in finance and pursue this passion. I dove head first into learning the culinary craft – I took master classes, studied food science, and spent endless nights of experimenting with different flavors in my home kitchen with a commercial grade gelato machine, perfecting recipes. I utilized my finance background to write an extensive business plan, and opened the doors of Gelateria Uli in Downtown Los Angeles in April of 2014. Our West 3rd location opened on August 31st 2017. We love our new West 3rd St neighborhood because, similar to DTLA, it is a very close-knit community where we can make a lasting impression.

2. What is your specialty? How is Gelateria Uli different from other gelato shops in the city?

We are very much a home-grown business, founded in and inspired by our beautiful city – Los Angeles. A lot of the flavors we have in our case are our reflection and interpretation of LA and its diverse cuisines (for example horchata, halva, black sesame gelato, etc). We make our product in-house every day from scratch, using local ingredients. Equally as important to us, and something that makes us unique, is to create a community at Gelateria Uli of people who love locally sourced artisanal products. Our motto is ‘savor the sweet things’, like gelato, or spending time with those you care about.

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3. What are your most popular flavors?

Our menu changes seasonally, however a few staple flavors are Beet Tarragon, Coconut Lemongrass Sorbet, Chocolate Sorbet, Yogurt Lavender, Banana White Chocolate, California Pistachio, Speculoos Cookies and Black Sesame.

· Winter Favorites: Zabaglione, White Chocolate Peppermint, Mulled Wine Sorbet

· Spring Favorites: Bee Pollen, Blood Orange Sorbet

· Summer Favorites: Black Mission Fig with Toasted Almonds, Flavor King Pluot Sorbet, Sweet White Corn

· Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Spice, Rye Bread

4. Tell me about the pup-sicles! How did that idea come to be.

When we opened our first location, and began forming a following within the community, we noticed how many people came by with their dogs. We wanted to do something special for them as well. We created our pup-sicle recipe with our dogs’ health in mind: there is no added sugar in this frozen treat and we make our own peanut butter that goes into it. Proceeds from sales go to doggie shelters and rescues.

5. What are some common misconceptions about gelato? How is it different from ice cream?

Gelato is a frozen dessert technique originating from Italy, very much like espresso is a coffee brewing technique originating from Italy. It is a healthier way of making ice cream. It has a lower fat content than traditional ice cream (8% butterfat vs. ice cream’s 25% or more), and has less air whipped into it during production, making it a denser and more flavorful product. Gelato is also served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, making flavors stand out more in your palette. We also offer a rotating menu of sorbets, which is a type of gelato prepared with water instead of milk.

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6. Why did you decide to open on West 3rd Street?

West 3rd Street is a strong residential and commercial community as well as a tourist destination. I also wanted our second location to be in an area where there were a lot of home-grown, mom and pop businesses and this area felt like the natural next step.

7. Aside from your own place, what are some of your favorite spots on the street?

West 3rd Street is filled with so many great vendors. We love Robata Jinya, Belcampo, Verve and Sweetgreen for fuel! Our neighbor Vivian is an amazing hairdresser (Wonderful Cuts) and she’s been on the street for 30 years. South Willard has some of the most beautiful artwork and pottery we’ve ever seen. The list goes on…!

Visit Gelateria Uli now at 8044 West 3rd Street. PS: Mondays and Tuesdays are #NeighborhoodNight at their West 3rd location! Show proof of 90048 zip code and receive 15% off!

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