2527 W. Colorado Ave., 632-8121, pizzeriarustica.com
I saw it on Facebook: "bourbon butterscotch gelato with a shot of whiskey & amaretto cookies. Steal @ $5.50."
I felt just as you must feel now reading it: excited, salivatory, covetous. It turns out the shot was from Denver's Leopold Bros. — love — and given the regular menu price of each ($7/Leopold cocktail and $4/gelato and cookie), owner Dave Brackett says he's basically giving the hooch away with a special like this.
Brackett notes that most of his gelato comes from Phoenix's Berto's Gelato & Sorbet, but occasionally — as in this case — he sources from Boulder's Ice Cream Alchemy, maker of flavors like sea urchin and bacon pineapple. The verdict: The bourbon is muted, making the Leopold Bros. quite handy, but the butterscotch is thumpin'. If only the plate had been decorated with chocolate sauce instead of balsamic redux — not a pleasant surprise. — Matthew Schniper
Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream
125½ N. Tejon St., 634-2626, pikespeakchocolate.com
Expanded from Manitou Springs in late March, PPC&IC has re-established a dessert destination downtown on the block that Michelle's Chocolatiers ruled until its closure five years ago. Now, The Candy Bar is following suit across the street, either glutting the sugar market or crystallizing the sweet scene by volume.
PPC&IC is a second stop for Josh & John's ice cream (so close to the main hub), plus a spot for truffles (made elsewhere), commercial chocolates (think Star Wars and Spider-Man sets) and a wide array of house-made sweets. I pass up the fudge and cutesy items like the Twinkie Dogs for an assorted chocolates sampling ($5.75/quarter pound). From peanut butter Rice Krispy Clusters to dark chocolate coconut creams and almond butter crunch bars, it's all good. But supreme among the sexy display case showpieces we tried: a salty bark that will make salted-caramel lovers slobber. — Matthew Schniper
Dr. Sweet's Bakery
4703 N. Academy Blvd., 645-8641, drsweetsbakery.com
And then God said, "Let there be challah." (OK, not really, but he should have.) Dr. Sweet, actually Polish-born and -trained baker Rafal Zalewski, makes a fine version of the egg bread ($3.80/loaf) that's straightforward, without the sweetness of some.
Zalewski holds the sugar for his excellent pastries — ranging from 85 cents for donuts and the like to $4 for elaborate, layered goodies — which rotate through an ever-changing display case in the front of his four-month-old cake-making studio. Our cannoli, éclair and Black Forest cake samples are exemplary, but it's most fun to try the paczki (essentially a dense donut with fruit filling, in this case raspberry-prune) and karpatka (a guilt-inducing cream cake under light choux pastry layers, reminiscent of the kremówka I fell in love with in Poland). Let Zalewski's friendly wife Agnieszka tour you through the offerings, and look for potential pierogi lunches to launch in spring 2013. — Matthew Schniper