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There’s something new goin’ on behind two of the oldest windows in town.

I’m in deepest Gaslamp.

Standing outside where American Apparel was (for, what? Three years?) and before that, San Diego Hardware (for, can you believe, 90 years?) and before that, Woolworth’s (from 1910-22).

Those original 1910 curved windows are still there, but just going in behind them: a chocolate volcano tower, a long rack of rosy-red gelato display cabinets, hot cabinets for, like, pastries, Italian ready-dishes like hot lasagna, and at the end, a total traditional beehive-shaped pizza oven.

The name? Cremalose (840 Fifth Avenue).

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Uh, say again?

“Cremalose,” says John Russo. He’s working on finishing touches inside. “Basically, a gelateria. We will have 48 different flavors. Twenty-four standards, and then 24 ‘cremalose’ flavors. These are where you have more cream, more fruit. They’re actually good for you. We went back to Italy to check this all out. This is exactly how they do it.”

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Gelato cabinets

So what is this, an ice cream joint, a serious eating outfit?

Another tourist trap?

“No way,” says Russo. “We want to be here for everybody. We’re trying to create a café like in Italy. Places like this are the center of social life over there. You can come and just buy a coffee and sit all day writing your novel. Or buy a slice of pizza. Or a glass of wine. Maybe six, seven dollars. Or have a bigger meal.”

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John Russo with son, Michael, and pizza oven

Sounds refreshing, specially for the Gaslamp.

And, got to admit, the writing the novel part would go well on the big sidewalk patio they’re working on, or upstairs way at the back, a mezzanine that’s strewn with sofas and comfortable lounge seating. Probably the women's hats and men's tie section back in 1912. Funny to think the life these walls (and the original tin ceiling panels) have seen.

Whatever, prepare your iPads! This could be the next Literati Lounge, spawning ground for tomorrow's coffee-sippin' J. K. Rowling!

I'll be back when they're open (Russo reckons late Jan-early Feb). Check out Tin Fork thenabouts.

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