Opened in February 2014, Bobboi (which is an expression of joy in Italy) Natural Gelato sits nestled above La Jolla Cove at 8008 Girard Ave. Its flavors change with the seasons, and owner Andrea Racca said he is always willing to experiment.
“We have a base of classic flavors, but we also look for the best ingredients and what is in season and use that to inspire our flavor combinations. We experiment a lot and we’ve tried things that sounded good but were just terrible,” he said. “(One of our success stories is our) goat cheese and grape gelato. It’s a classic savory combination to eat goat cheese and wash your palate with the grapes, so I thought we would try it in a gelato. You’d think that would be a disaster, but it’s perfect and people love it.”
Another savory combination this summer is tomato and basil. “That was my wife’s idea, some people like it, others not so much. It’s about a person’s individual taste,” Racca said.
Even the popular mocha flavor (coffee and chocolate with chocolate chips) came by experimentation. “We were trying to make a stracciatella, which is vanilla and chocolate chips, but we made it wrong and didn’t want to throw it away, so we tried it, and people liked it,” he said.
A unique offering at Bobboi is vanilla and charcoal. Yep, charcoal.
“It’s very popular, and I haven’t seen it anywhere else,” Racca said. “We make vanilla with this infusion of charcoal that creates this beautiful gray color. It’s food grade and a great detoxifier.” He explained that he got the idea from a terrifying incident that occurred when his son was young. “He got into a cabinet left open and drank cold medicine. When we took him to the hospital, they treated him with charcoal because it’s good at removing toxins.”
This summer, however, it’s all about fruit, Racca said. “We ordered mini watermelons, which are super rich in flavor, and we should have that this week. We also have a new flavor called the Tropicana. We use little, yellow, sweet mangoes from Mexico, pineapple and banana, and instead of water, we use coconut water. It works.”
Leading up to the sit down with La Jolla Light, Racca asked a table of outgoing patrons what they thought, and the Tropicana seemed to be a hit, with one customer using the word “addicting.” But for those who prefer single-flavor classics, like Racca, there are plenty of choices.
“Pistachio, just pistachio, is my favorite. It’s a classic,” he said. But when doling out his go-to gelato, he has to remind people that pistachio ice cream is not always green. “It’s actually a shade of brown or beige, with flecks of green in it,” he explained. Other top choices include mango and dark chocolate sorbet.
A native of Italy, Racca said his eatery offers small sizes with the Italian philosophy, “poco a poco,” which means “little by little.”
“If you only have a little bit, you can have it every day,” he said.
A USD graduate, Racca attributes his return to San Diego, and his business, to fate. “My business partner and I were in corporate finance and we just didn’t like what we were doing. I told him I wanted to come back to San Diego and start a gelato business and he said he had been thinking the same thing. We toured around to see where we could open. I arrived here in May 2013, and the day I was here, a sign went up indicating this place was for lease.”