I’m really falling behind on checking out new places around my neighborhood, so I’m going to dedicate the next few posts to what’s new in or around Rockridge in Oakland.

One of the long-awaited newcomers to Rockridge is the popular Smitten Ice Cream, which opened in a former bread shop three months ago across from Zachary’s Pizza. Smitten was opened by former pastry chef Robyn Lenzi, who devised a technique using liquid nitrogen to make instant ice cream to order using fresh and often seasonal ingredients.

Lenzi opened her first location at a makeshift container stand at Hayes Valley, which continues to draw a crowd when the weather’s warm. But her new Rockridge location is probably three times the size, offering a lot of shelter with indoor seating (although there’s still outdoor benches to enjoy your ice cream with the warm weather).

The new Smitten Ice Cream store in Rockridge.

The new Smitten Ice Cream store in Rockridge.

The Rockridge location, which is part of an expansion that includes spots in Los Altos and Lafayette, also has an expanded menu that includes sundaes and soon-to-come floats.

A couple of things to keep in mind about how things work at Smitten:

  1. You can’t taste flavors to decide because, remember, the ice cream is made to order.
  2. You can’t have more than one flavor in a cup or cone because since the flavors are made when you order it, it would slow the process down if they had to make two orders for just one person.

Smitten’s Rockridge store has a nice Main Street feel, and I’m looking forward to trying a sundaes this summer.

The deets: Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.594.7630. Open daily. For hours, visit smittenicecream.com.

You can watch the workers making chocolate or waffle cones while waiting for your ice cream.

You can watch the workers making chocolate or waffle cones while waiting for your ice cream.

When you walk in, the first thing you see is the 10 feet tall, 2,000-liter liquid nitrogen tank.

When you walk in, the first thing you see is the 10 feet tall, 2,000-liter liquid nitrogen tank.

Freshly made waffle cones

Freshly made waffle cones

Ice cream being churned with liquid nitrogen. It actually isn't "instant" because it's roughly a 3- to 5-minute wait, depending on the crowds.

Ice cream being churned with liquid nitrogen. It actually isn’t “instant” because it’s roughly a 3- to 5-minute wait, depending on the crowds.

I tried a seasonal flavor for summer, nectarine, which actually didn't have a strong nectarine flavor. Much of the flavor came from the sauce added on top. Still, I enjoyed the fluffy and light texture of the ice cream.

I tried a seasonal flavor for summer, nectarine, which actually didn’t have a strong nectarine flavor. Much of the flavor came from the sauce added on top. Still, I enjoyed the fluffy and light texture of the ice cream.

Smitten offers about about six daily flavors with optional sauces.

Smitten offers about about six daily flavors with optional sauces.

3 Responses to Getting It Fresh at Smitten Ice Cream in Rockridge

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Oooh, nectarine sounds good. The mint chip is one of my faves because it tastes intensely of fresh mint. I am definitely smitten with Smitten. 😉

    • Ben Ben says:

      I wanted to get the nectarine with the fresh mint, but as I said they don’t let you mix flavors in one cup. So I ended up going with the seasonal flavor. Next time mint!

  2. Sue says:

    I’ve been there twice already. The ice cream is dense, intense, and delicious! Maybe going again this week.