In my renewed effort to provide more ‘best of’ lists, here follows the 2013 Rome Gelato update. Even though I keep things up to date on my app, Eat Italy, it’s been a while since I provided a full and complete gelato list on the blog. And there are actually quite a few updates, with many new openings, a few closings, and some changes in opinion.
Generally things have been getting better and better on the gelato front in Rome. Some of the best gelateria in town – including Fatamorgana, Vice and Gelateria di Teatro – have recently opened centrally located branches of their original stores. I’m not sure if this has to do with falling commercial rental prices in the center of Rome, or just their continued success. Whatever the reason, it’s a delicious plus.
Unfortunately one recent expansion, Il Gelato, which had a much appreciated store on Piazza Monte D’Oro, has closed down. Too bad.
One significant change I’ve made to my app, is to eliminate San Crispino. I’m very sorry to have done this, but not only has the quality of their gelato deteriorated to the point of industrialized product, but their francising plan has back fired with truly horrible staff manning many of their stores.
Gelateria del Teatro
This hard-to-find gelateria is just off Via dei Coronari, on a dead end alleyway, tucked into the corner, behind a staircase. Make an effort to search it out, because it’s one of Rome’s best. Opened by a former pastry chef, he searches out the best ingredients including pistachios from Bronte and lemons from Amalfi. And if nuts are your thing, this is the best place to get almond, walnut and, of course, pistachio. Be adventurous and try some of the more creative flavors. Lampone e Salvia (Raspberry and Sage) is a revelation, as are any of the flavors of the day featuring ricotta. Get your gelato and head back out to the alley and you can either sit at one of the cute mosaic tables, or find a seat on the stone staircase.
Via del San Simone 70
Lungotevere dei Vallati 25 (just past Ponte Garibaldi)
Il Gelato di Claudio Torce
So, the verdict? Among the half dozen top notch artisan gelaterie in Rome these days, this one is still at the top of the list. Over the years I’ve tried, I think, most of the flavors. My favorites? Don’t be shocked, but I loved loved loved both the celery and the habanero. I know they sound strange but they weren’t. Brie con Frutti di Bosco was creamy and just cheesy enough. My friend Evan’s faves included Fior di Sesamo and Zabaione. Don’t worry, they have ‘normal’ flavors too.
Viale Aventino 59, Rome
Original location, in EUR:
Viale dell’Aeronautica 105
This gelateria is one of the newer of the new breed of artisinal gelaterie in Rome. Located just off Via Flavia, it’s worth a trip over. They only have about a dozen flavors, most very traditional, but among the creamiest and richest around. Ciocolato Extra Fondente was intense while the Crema Come Una Volta was just that: old fashioned vanilla ice cream. The fruit flavors tended towards things like Kiwi and strawberry.
And here’s the kicker: at Italian gelaterie they always ask you if you’d like whipped cream on top of your ice cream. But here? They fold zabaione into the whipped cream, to create an entirely new food group. On top of already incredibly rich and delicious gelato. Nirvana.
Via Collina, 13/15, Rome
Come il Latte
This is my newest favorite obsession in Rome, gelato wise. Opened by an ex employee of Caruso around the corner, this gelateria focuses – like them – on the creamy and rich side of things. But then goes several steps further.
First of all the flavors. Very addictive and comfort-foody. I can’t get enough of caramello al sale (salted caramel) and all of my Italian friends love the mascarpone con biscotti Gentillini – a sort of cream cheese flavor with crunchy cookies scattered in. High quality ingredients go without saying. The fruit flavors are seasonal and recently included date and persimmon. And the crunchy cones and cookies that get stuck on top of each cup? They are first dipped or coated in chocolate that is running out of two faucets at the end of the counter. You have your choice of dark chocolate or white. Yes. For real.
via Silvio Spaventa 24-26 , Rome
Fatamorgana was one of the first artisanal gelaterie in Rome to start playing around with weird and wonderful ingredients. Kentucky is a heavenly mix of chocolate, licorice and tobacco. My favorite is Dukha, an Middle Eastern inspired melange of sesame seeds, hazelnuts and coriander. And then there are flavors like Pear and Gorgonzola, which must be popular, since it’s always freshly made But don’t worry. They also do the classics, so you are sure to find whatever fruit is in season, whipped up into cool and creamy perfection.
Besides their newly opened location in Prati, they still have their original store on Via di Lago di Lesina 9/11 and best of all, a very convenient location in Monti and a brand new space near the Spanish Steps.
Via Lago di Lesina 9 (Via Salaria)
Via G. Bettolo 7, (Prati)
Via Laurina 10 (Piazza di Spagna)
Piazza degli Zingari 5, (Monti)
Via Roma Libera 11 (Trastevere)
The sparkling, crystal-studded walls make Vice feel more like a late-night disco than an artisanal gelateria. And the Thursday afternoon aperitivo hour only adds to the hip/cool factor. And did I mention the ceiling is covered in fake snow? But get beyond the stage-like hype and the gelato is some of the best in town. Obsessive attention to ingredients, including organic eggs from Paolo Parisi, chocolate from Amedei and Domori, lemons from Amalfi and pistachios from Bronte. The creaminess factor is perfect, and the flavors are rich and clean. Don’t miss Thursday evenings when savory flavors like olive oil, salmon, and prosciutto make guest appearances.
Via Gregorio VII , 385
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 96 (Largo Argentina NEW LOCATION)
Al Settimo Gelo
Al Settimo Gelo was one of those places I had vaguely heard about for years, but never gotten to because it’s in …..Prati. I know, Rome is small, but Prati is not on my way to anything. Especially way the other side of Piazza Mazzini. But this should definitely be on everyone’s gelato itinerary since it’s fantastic! Don’t look for cute here. Very anonymous place, on a nothing sort of street.
The first hint that something is different are the stickers plastering the door with the names of all the top food guides, from Slow Food to Gambero Rosso. Besides seasonal fruit flavors I tried, and loved: Gelato Iraniano (Saffron and Rose Water); Gelato Greco (chestnut honey and yogurt); Sesamo e Miele (Sesame and honey); Ciocolato e Arachidi salati spezzati (chocolate with salted cracked peanuts); Dark Chocolate and candied Orange Peel. And I loved the wine flavors: Crema di Amarone con visciole (wine with cherries); Crema del Barolo e Prugne.
Via Vodice 21 (Prati)
Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi
Fassi is one of the the oldest gelateria in Rome, and maybe even in Italy. Founded in 1880, it was (until they closed for restoration) comfortingly old fashioned, in a mid 20th century kind of way. I LOVE the plaster reproductions of gelato displayed. That may be why my friend Meg went here almost every day when her sister Amy was living in Rome. Or, more likely, it was just because the ice cream tasted so good. The true test of any gelateria is, of course, pistachio, and theirs is superb. They are very well known for their semi freddi and their various ice cream cakes. It’s not up there on the level of the new artisan gelaterie in town, in terms of ingredients, etc. But there is something that I love about the setting. The huge room, full of tables (which they don’t charge you to sit at!) groups of kids, families, old folks….it all feels very Roman. In a good way.
Via Principe Eugenio 65 (off Piazza Vittorio)
I can still remember the taste of the melon ice cream I had here in 1973. I was 12, and we were living in Palazzo Cenci, across the street. After lunch I begged to be let out on my own to get a gelato. By the time I made it back, upstairs, I had finished my small cup of melone. It was so good, I immediately left again, to get another cup. What I really loved, was the way the pure, rich whipped cream became almost solid next to the cold gelato.
Even back in those days, I was surprised I had enough nerve to go their on my own. Pica was back then, and continues to be today, well known for it’s off-putting owners. But if you can get past the rudeness, the ice cream is heavenly. They are best known for their rice based gelati, which change according to whim and season. How does the rice stay so firm? A closely guarded secret. Domenico’s favorite is manna. I love the riso alla canella. And I will stand by my word that they make the very best pistachio in Rome.
Via del Seggiola 12 (off Via Arenula)
I know Giolitti has a reputation of being a bit on the touristy side of things these days. And I have a inkling that some of their flavors (pistachio, hazlenut) may be made with pre made bases. But their fruit flavors are still outstanding. If you are around there in Spring make sure you order their Amarena, sour cherry, which is like spooning pure fruit into your mouth.
Via Ufficio del Vicario, 40
Fiocchi di Neve
You’d be forgiven if you walked by Fiocchi di Neve without noticing it was there. But this understated little place offers some of the best gelato in town. Although most of their gelato is very good, my heart throbs for the house speciality: zabaione. They make a creamy, eggy and slightly boozy zabaione gelato that is addcitive. Have it on its own, or else do what Romans in the know do: order a cafe affogato. They will pull you a deep, dark espresso right over a healthy scoop of zabaione. Heaven in a cup.
Via del Pantheon 51 (Pantheon)
Fior di Luna
Fior di Luna is located smack on one of the busiest streets in Trastevere, where you’d expect to find something much more commercial. But Fior di Luna goes directly in the opposite direction, using incredibly hard-to-source, organic and fair trade ingredients. It is really good, and I really loved the peanut, especially when paired with chocolate. The gelato here is intense, but not overly creamy.
Via della Lungaretta 96, Rome
Why does Prati have such a high concentration of great gelaterie? I guess since it’s so densely residential, as well as having some great shopping districts. In other words, a lot of foot traffic.
Gelateria Gracchi is just a block away from the busy shopping street of Cola di Rienzo, and close enough to the Vatican for an easy stroll. This place though, is worth a hike for it’s seasonal, carefully crafted gelati.
I always think that a test of any ice cream place are their nut flavors, and Gelateria Gracchi comes out with flying colors. Both pistachio and hazlenut with meringue are creamy and full of big chunks of nuts. Their seasonal menu means you may not always find everything, but their Autumn persimmon was out of this world, like biting into a big juicy piece of fruit. But my hands down favorite is roasted chestnut, only available a few short months a year.
Via dei Gracchi 272 (Prati)
Other cold treats:
Tazza D’Oro – Granita di Cafe
Where to get the best coffee in Rome? Everyone has their favorite, but at the very top of the bunch there is Tazza D’Oro If it’s summer, run – don’t walk – here to have the very best granita di cafe in town. This is served with freshly whipped cream, piled into the bottom of the cup as well as slathered on top. I like to ask for mine ‘solo sotto’ , only on the bottom, and then mush it all together with my spoon for a creamy, coffee slushy treat.
Via degli Orfani 84 (Pantheon)
When things get hot and steamy in Rome, my mind turns to gelato, for sure. But it’s also when I start to have cravings for frullati. And when I want a frullato there is really only one place that I have in mind: Pascucci.
I’ve been going to Frullati Pascucci since I was 12. I had just moved to Rome from St. Louis, with my family, and while my sisters and I were all very adventurous eaters, we also didn’t mind when something looked kind of familiar. We would order Vitello Milanese just because my father told us it was fried chicken. And frullati of course were just a different version of a Steak-n-Shake milkshake. One of the things that kept me going back to Pascucci over the years was that it never changed. I kept going back when I was a teenager, and on through the years during my pregnancies when all I could manage was a frosty glass of goodness. The same hand-written signs, the same worn linoleum floor. And of course the same row of battered blenders that were constantly humming.
So you can imagine my distress when I saw that they had closed for ‘renovation’ over this past winter. Renovation in Rome usually means one of two things. A place has either closed for good, or else they are ripping out any shred of history and charm. Fortunately – or unfortunately?- it was the latter. Pascucci has reopened. Bright and shiny, full of chrome, neon lighting and sparkling tiled floors. Ick.
That said, it is still the same Pascucci. The same tubs of fruit marinating in sugar. The same bottles of juices and syrups. And of course the same row of industrial strength blenders ready to whip up my favorite Amalfi, a mix of citrus and strawberries, tangy, sweet and cold. Yes, they have new ‘soda fountain’ glasses. Yes, the barmen are wearing spiffy new uniforms. But if I close my eyes, wrap my lips around my straw, and let the whir of the blenders drown out the world around me, it’s still the same Pascucci that settles my cravings.
Via di Torre Argentina, 20 (Pantheon)
I can’t tell you how often I passed by Gelateria Corona, ignoring it as a totally touristy gelato trap. It’s gaudy design and tacky signs scream anything but artisan ice cream.
As it turns out, it’s one of the best places to have not only great granita
While most people think of granitas in the limited flavors of coffee and lemon, make sure you try their very Sicilian versions with pistachios and almonds or mulberries.
Largo Arenula 27 (Pantheon)
Casa del Cremolato
If you’ve never had a cremolato, or even heard of one, it’s a close relative of the granita. But while a granita is more about liquid turning into icy delight, the cremolato is all about the fruit. Perfectly ripe fruit is combined with just enough sugar, frozen, then mashed up just enough to produce an intensely flavorful, fruity and bone-chilling treat. There are big frozen chunks of fruit that almost hurt your teeth when you bight into them. Can you think of a better heat wave meal?
When it comes to cremolati in Rome, Casa del Cremolato is really the only place to go. Located in the crowded residential neighborhood of Trieste the bar dates back about 40 years and is still owned and run by the De Angelis family. According to legend (or at least their web site) in 1966 Umberto De Angelis mistakenly left a crate of fresh strawberries in the freezer. Starting out with frozen fruit, and adding his own secret twist, the first De Angelis Cremolato was born.
Last summer we made it over to Via di Priscilla three times in the course of two days. While we usually just get a small paper cup to go, on Sunday we caved in and went for broke: taking a seat at the cool ‘sixties chairs and tables and ordering glass goblets filled to the brim with cremolato.
While the cremolato has no milk or cream (the name is deceiving) the whipped cream garnish here is a part of the deal. A major part of the deal. In fact De Angelis still uses their original whipping machine to whip up what may be the thickest, most addictive panna montata in Rome. Even though they also make excellent gelato, we always go straight for the cremolato. The fruit flavors change with the season (well, duh!) and are written on a chalk board behind the counter.
The slushy, slightly frozen cremolati are made daily and kept in stainless steel tubs sunk beneath the counter. Once you place your order the owner heaves out a tub, takes the lid off and uses a big spoon to break up the fruity ice flows. Once it reaches the desired consistency, he carefully loads up your cup. A few swift dollops of whipped cream and it’s perfection.
Via Priscilla 18, Roma