There were a lot of “gourmet” or “artisanal” ice cream shops opening in Toronto in 2016, but I found one that stands out from the rest – Bar Ape. It is located on Rushton road, just north of St. Clair, beside the Rushton restaurant. Why open on a quiet side street in close proximity to Dutch Dreams and Booyah, who do a booming business? I am not sure, but maybe it is because owner James Carnavale and his partner Nick Genova have roots in this Italian area. Regardless, the product is different from the other shops. And to me, it’s better.
First, a little history. Before James Carnevale started his business, he studied the ice cream trade and worked at Il Gelatiere Artigianale and Simply Italian Gelato. He started in a three wheel food truck, before he decided to open a brick and mortar storefront. (The truck is also still in operation.) It is a tiny space that opened May 2016. It basically is just a gelato counter that you walk up to and place your order. It is reminiscent of the gelato places I visited this past summer in Italy. There is a long bench out front to sit and enjoy your treat.
Many aspects make them distinctively different from the aforementioned other shops. They don’t have gimmicks like the other places, where they coat the cones or ice cream in candy, nuts or sauces, and have all the bells and whistles to attract customers. Bar Ape is more purest and uses refined recipes and serve an artesian, handcrafted from scratch, gelato bar. The bars have flavours like pistachio, chocolate hazelnut, creamsicle, and chocolate raspberry. The ice creams are hand-dipped and sealed in a chocolate, orange or vanilla crust of chocolate. There are 4-5 flavours available at a time, with ever-changing combinations. The bars are smaller than a Magnum or Hagen Das Bar, which is a good thing if you knew the calorie count. The flavours are intense and the mouth feel is sinfully creamy.
They also dispense soft serve ice cream and sorbet made from scratch. There is always one vegan flavour offered. They offer flavours like melon, passion fruit, and mango. Not every combination works. I tried a yellow plum and chamomile swirl – it was a little too odd for me. But the quality and uniqueness is still impressive.
The price for this little bit of heaven is $5 for a bar and a soft serve and $10 for a take home tub, with taxes included in that price. It is a cash only business here. My only complaint is their operating hours. They are closed in the afternoon on weekdays during the height of the season!??? You have to wait until they are open from 5pm to 11pm. On weekends they are open all day from 12-11pm. The storefront is closed on Tuesdays. The shop is opened seasonally, closed October through May.
Refined recipes, consistent quality and very tasty. Expect lines.