savory gelato appetizers {rome}

My idea of a good summer recipe is something that is both cold and doesn’t require me exerting myself too much. Summer soups usually fill this niche nicely, with gazpacho and some sort of zucchini soup making repeat performances. When I absolutely can’t be bothered there is always prosciutto and melon or bread and tomatoes.

While gelato is my default dessert when things get hot, I’d never really thought about serving it at the beginning of a meal. 

Until the other night.

My colleague Katie Parla had organized a Gelato Aperitivo so I stopped by to see what it was all about.

Although I knew that Claudio Torce, who owns Il Gelato where the event took place, crafts some delicious savory flavors, I really didn’t know what to expect.

What I came away with opened a whole new chapter for me in cool and savory summer entertaining. The pairings that Katie and Claudio came up with were certainly surprising, but also surprisingly good. Addictive even.

First up was Habanero Gelato paired with tortilla chips. The gelato itself was intensely spicy, the ‘hottest’ ice cream I’ve ever had. Scooped up onto a crispy, crunchy tortilla chip made sense. The not overly sweet gelato was perfect with the salty chip.

A pristine white scoop of Pecorino Gelato – rich, creamy and cheesy – was surrounded by freshly cut carrots, fennel and celery. Crudite al gelato. Brilliant!

But my favorite by far was perhaps the wackiest pairing of the evening. A pale green scoop of the pistachio-ist pistachio gelato I’ve ever had, perched atop a bed of mortadella cubes. I know it sounds weird, but it wasn’t at all. The chewy, meaty, fatty mortadella was perfect with the nutty, sweetish, cold gelato. I finished every bite.

Now that my mind’s been opened to  possible savory gelato pairings I can’t wait to try this at home. Besides the ones above, I’m thinking melon sorbet with prosciutto will be a no-brainer. And olive oil gelato with tomatoes? I see a very cool – and interesting – summer ahead.

The event took place at Claudio Torce’s Il Gelato, Piazza Monte d’Oro 21.
To keep up with Katie’s events see her blog and  event page. There is another Aperi-Gelato coming up in July.

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  1. says

    I’ve served Bloody Mary sorbet as an in-between fare before. You have to reduce the alcoholic content otherwise the mixture is too soft (when done with a home icecream maker) but it’s really nice.
    Fennel and olives (it would be even nicer with blood oranges) could be nice.
    What about Caponata?

  2. says

    Something a little different that savory gelato but just as interesting….coconut (or any flavor) gelato with olive oil that has been infused with chocolate. Amazing! I must get a gelato machine and experiment!

  3. says

    thanks so much for writing about the aperi gelato, which raised €55 for a local food charity! the next one will be on july 14 at Il Gelato in Piazza Monte d’Oro 91/92 from 6-8pm. please RSVP on the Facebook event page here:

    I have to give props to Torce’, of course, but Patrizio who owns the branch in Piazza Monte d’Oro has been the brains behind the pairings.

    Also, melon gelato with prosciutto rules

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