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An ice cream shop in Berkeley founded by former Chez Panisse pastry chef Mary Canales

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Ici Ice Cream is full of crazy flavors!

  • Mar 26, 2009
  • by
I was pretty indifferent when Gourmet magazine declared ice cream the new "cupcake," meaning that it was the new trend dessert. Ice cream has been around forever, same old vat of frozen fat and sugar collecting freezer burn in the back of my fridge. What's new about ice cream?

But living in a foodie paradise like Berkeley, I've discovered Ici, an ice cream shop started by former Chez Panisse chef of nine years, Mary Canales. All of the ice cream (and the cones) here are homemade from organic ingredients. The flavors, which are strikingly unusual, play up to a pretty dynamic palate.

In addition to the usual standards like vanilla and chocolate (I skip those), there's peach-habereno, black pepper pistachio, lavender honey, brandied cherry, cardamon candied pecan, vanilla sour cherry, apple cider, malt ale, rose pistachio, and um quite a lot more. It varies from day to day, from season to season, and you never know what's available — but that's OK because it's hard to find anything that disappoints.

While it's not unusual for desserts to come in weird flavors these days, it's clear that the product here is more than just novelty. You can be sure, for instance, that the cardamon isn't just vanilla ice cream with some cardamon powder sprinkled throughout. Instead, there's a delicate mixture of spices and candied pecans that really balances the flavors out for a "full" taste.

There are also Bombes (ice cream cakes), ice cream sandwiches, and strange little bags of brittle for sale. Of the latter two, I prefer the rosemary-pinenut brittle and the lemon-ginger ice cream sandwich (lemon ice cream between two thin ginger cookies).

Though the lines are long and the demand is high (lines still go out the door in rainy weather), I've never encountered any "soup nazi" behavior from the staffers here. Once, after a scoop of candied lemon fell off my cone after two licks, they were happy to replace it free of charge.

Prices are cheaper than you'd think (approx $3.50 for a single scoop cone, $4 for a double scoop). It's an affordable treat!

ici ice cream Ici ice cream display Ici

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April 17, 2009
I am totally hitting this place next time I'm in the Bay. How long has this been around?
April 22, 2009
Hi shinjiblue, Ici is still fairly new. I believe this has been around since the early 2000s. It definitely hasn't been around long enough for franchise opportunities, but enough for a cult following and long lines out the door!
April 12, 2009
I want some!
April 13, 2009
Come out here to Berkeley! There's a Sizzler here too.
April 08, 2009
Oh gosh, I love this place! I don't live too, too far away from it either :) My favorite flavor is hazelnut. It tastes like Ferrero Rocher ice cream!

I'll have to try their rosemary-pinenut brittle and other baked goods sometime. I've actually never had anything other than ice cream at Ici before.
April 02, 2009
Yeah, there are lots of places like this one popping up everywhere. Not all of these places are created equal though, and some actually are selling "Gelato" and not Ice Cream. I prefer Gelato, because it's usually richer in flavor and has a smoother/creamier texture too. Most places are selling it in a similar fashion though... in scoops and different sized cups.
April 03, 2009
I hear ya. Ice cream has more cream than gelato, which means that sometimes the flavors in ice cream don't come across as strongly as in gelato. With some flavors, I prefer gelato, but with others I stick to ice cream. If you're ever in the SF area, check out Gelateria Naia. I bet you would love it!
March 27, 2009
Thanks for the great shout out! You know I'm also a San franciscan and this place sounds like it's worth a drive over the Bay Bridge.
March 27, 2009
Cool! It should be a pretty easy drive, I think, but the parking in that area is sometimes a bit tricky. I'd recommend going during the afternoon. And also, for lunch, you can go a few blocks down to Noodle Therapy which is amazing!
March 26, 2009
Sounds like this place is a competitor to my favorite, Ruby Jewel. I'll have to give it a shot next time I'm in Berkeley.
More Ici reviews
Quick Tip by . March 04, 2010
posted in Secret Berkeley
Ici is a decadent treat to the taste buds. They will thank you later.
Quick Tip by . March 04, 2010
Ici is a decadent treat to the taste buds. They will thank you later.
About the reviewer
I'm a curious foodie, a devout fashion gawker, and an unrepentant print nerd. I work at one of the last mainstream commercial magazines that's still printing.      Other things … more
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About this restaurant


Ici (pronounced Ee-cee) is an ice cream shop in Berkeley that opened in September 2006. It was started by Mary Canales, a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse of nine years. In addition to ice cream, the shop also offers ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, sorbets, milkshakes, and individually packaged sweets like brittle and marshmallows.

The ingredients Ici uses are locally sourced and meet organic standards. 
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Address: 2948 College Avenue Berkeley CA 94705
Cuisine: dessert, ice cream
Attire: Casual

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