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Oh, How Sweet It Is : Local eateries’ ice cream concoctions can be credited to Dandy Don.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

According to Julia Child, the test of a restaurant is its roast chicken--for the very good reason that only a chef whose attention never flags roasts a chicken to perfection.

But to those who love it, a scoop of really good ice cream is at least as much fun as any chicken, roasted to perfection or beyond. Besides, life is short. Have dessert first.

Restaurants that use high-quality ice cream should offer a high-quality dessert, right? It seems worth a thorough test.

No fewer than 15 restaurants in the San Fernando Valley serve Dandy Don’s Gourmet Homemade Ice Creams, made by Don Whittemore of Van Nuys, a former music-industry executive who decided to go into the specialty food business in 1981.

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His is good ice cream indeed; Dandy Don’s vanilla bean ice cream won a gold medal at the Los Angeles County Fair last year. And if the testimony of one of Whittemore’s loyal customers--Selwyn Yosslowitz, who runs the Marmalade Cafes in Sherman Oaks, Westlake Village and Malibu--is a guide, diners love it too.

“It’s a phenomenal ice cream--in a league of its own,” says Yosslowitz. “It’s creamy and light, and it melts in your mouth. People go nuts over it.”

Yosslowitz serves the ice cream with two desserts--a French apple tart and a deep dish apple pie, each $5.50. If you take your ice cream straight, three scoops cost $4.95.

Cafe Marmalade is at 14910 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 905-8875; 140 Promenade Way, Westlake Village, (805) 370-1331.

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Another Dandy Don customer, John Makhoni, who runs Villa Piacere Restaurant in Woodland Hills, serves the ice cream in a confection guaranteed to make you impatient to get to it ASAP.

Called a truffle, it’s a morsel of Dandy Don raspberry sherbet wrapped in a layer of Dandy Don chocolate ice cream and finished off with chocolate icing. Makhoni sells it for $5.95. You can get a dish of vanilla bean ice cream--the most popular Dandy Don flavor--for $2.95.

Villa Piacere is at 22160 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 704-1185.

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The Seashell Restaurant and Steak House in Woodland Hills serves Dandy Don ice cream three ways--with French wafers and fresh fruit, with Grand Marnier, and inside a puff pastry topped with hot chocolate. Prices range to $6.50.

The restaurant at 19723 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 884-6500.

Juan Hovey writes about the restaurant scene in the San Fernando Valley and outlying points. Call (805) 492-7909, fax (805) 492-5139 or e-mail JHovey@compuserve.com.

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