We come to Rome for the sights, the history, the food… but mostly we come for the Gelato. Almost everyone I meet has a favorite gelateria – and they are passionate about their selection. I’m very fortunate (or maybe unfortunate?) to have the opportunity to try them all. Research must be done… and I’m willing to make the sacrifice… now where are those elastic waist-band pants??
Photo from the Boots in the Oven
When you talk of gelato, one of the first questions you hear is, “What makes gelato different than ice cream?” Let me try to answer this. In Italian, Gelato literally means “frozen,” but it’s often translated as “Italian ice cream.” Yet if you’ve tasted Gelato you can certainly attest that ice cream and Gelato are different food experiences altogether.
Ice cream is made with mostly cream, which is heated along with sugar and other flavoring ingredients, including sometimes eggs, to form a custard base. Then it is frozen while being churned, with varying amounts of air. The average amount of air in ice cream is 60%. Ice cream is then whipped to increase volume and unify texture. It is ideally served cold and hard. By industry standards, frozen desserts labeled ice cream must have at least 10% milk fat content. Premium and “super premium” brands typically have 12-18% milk fat.
Gelato is made with mostly milk in its creamy variations (resulting in less milk fat content, usually 4-8%), along with sugar, flavorings and sometimes eggs, with much less air added in (20% average), and then stored at warmer freezing temperatures, generally resulting in denser flavors, bolder colors, and a much softer serving texture. Sorbetti are fruit-based gelato flavors essentially starring crushed fresh fruit, water and sugar.
To distinguish the best quality gelato, be sure to look for these signs: produzione propria (homemade – our own production), nostra produzione (our production) and produzione artigianale (production by craftsmen), with gelato served from reusable stainless steel (not plastic) bins — all indications that their gelato is homemade.
I can confirm that Gelato is more flavorful and less icy! Don’t be intimidated by the MULTITUDE of flavors you see when you enter a Gelateria (Della Palma advertises more than 100 unique flavors!). Just take your time and pick out the flavors you want… That’s right — flavors. Most Italians have two or three flavors on their cone or cup. Prices here are based on the number of scoops (gusti). You can order in a cone (cono) or paper cup (coppa). The gelato is displayed with all the flavors labeled – In Italian! But don’t let that throw you – Just Point!
To purchase Gelato in a larger gelateria, you pay for your gelato at the cashier’s stand (cassa) then with receipt in hand, fight your way (if necessary) to the front of the display case. (Italians don’t do well waiting in line – so protect your flanks and hold your ground- Good gelato is worth fighting for!) In a smaller gelateria you will pay AFTER you get your cone or cup. Before the server asks you for your ticket/order, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. Indecision is not welcome if the gelateria is crowded! Tell them if you want a cup or a cone and how many scoops. Then tell them the flavors you want. Some of our best experiences come from combining different flavors and nothing is out-of-bounds!
Gelato does melt quickly – so perhaps limit the number of scoops you purchase on a hot day – all the more reason to STOP FOR SOME MORE!!! Eat less more often! In many places you can have fresh whipped cream on top (panna). Most gelaterie have no tables. The custom is to eat your gelato while strolling along the streets. The larger gelaterie that have tables only allow folks who are ordering from a waiter to occupy their tables.
Some Gelateria Terms to know:
- Gusti — flavors (at least 2 are allowed on a small cone)
- Panna – Whipped cream
- Frappe — milkshake
- Frullato — smoothie
- Sorbetto — sorbet
- Granita — shaved ice with sweet fruity syrup or coffee mixed in, optionally topped with whipped cream (a coffee granita w/panna tastes like a frappuccino)
- Panino Gelato — ice cream sandwich made of sweet brioche bread and gelato
- Spumoni — Neapolitan specialty of multi-colored layers of ice cream sprinkled with dried fruits and nuts
- Tartufo — Ice cream ball shaped like a truffle, often with a cherry and nut core, enrobed in chocolate Common Flavor Decoder
- Fior di Latte — sweet cream
- Crema — cream custard (not vanilla)
- Gianduja/Bacio — milk chocolate w/hazelnut liqueur or pieces
- Fondente — dark chocolate
- Stracciatella — chocolate chip
Now that we’ve got some background… where are the BEST Gelaterie in Rome? I’ve compiled a list based on recommendations and TOO MUCH first-hand research… and I welcome YOUR suggestions! I’ll post these in alphabetical order, thus in no particular RANKING! Some do have comments….
To find these, I’ve created a Rome Gelato Google Map. As these locations are so spread out, you’ll have to use the “+” or “-” keys on he Google Map to zoom in and out. Multiple locations of a gelateria are numbered the same, but in different colors.
View Gelato in Rome in a larger map
…And Now, Some of the Best Spots to Get Gelato are…..
Via Vodice 21a, not far from Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini
“This artisanal shop is known for it’s interesting flavors, like Greek gelato with cardamom. The lemon sorbetto took me back to the Amalfi coast…so refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s a small local place on a side street. It was busy when I went and there wasn’t a single tourist in the joint. If you are staying near that side of town, it’s well worth a visit.” From the Sistergirtales Blogspot
Via della Seggiola, 12
A small gelateria located between the Jewish Ghetto and Campo dei Fiori. If you’re walking from Trasevere towards Largo Aregntina, this Gelato shop will on a small street on your left. Well worth finding, the owner, Signor Albeto Pica is a fixture of the Italian gelato industry. He has many awards and citations which are proudly displayed. There are some very unusual and tasty flavors such as Cinnamon rice.
Via Salaria, 260
Their Signature flavor “Amè” is made with coconut and chocolate – Incredible! Also try the cinnamon, mint, and pistachio flavors! It’s a little of the beaten path, north of Villa Borghese but well worth the trek!
Via Sabotino, 25
Apart from delicious gelato in a variety of flavors, Antonini has an impressing selection of mouth-watering pastries, which as made it a firm favorite amongst locals. Their Zabaione gelato is simply the best you can find in Rome! One of many great gelaterie located in the Prati. Photo from the Boots in the Oven
Piazza d’Ara coeli, 9 (Piazza Venezia)
It doesn’t get any more central than this fine gelateria. It’s located just across from the Campodoglio and Vittorio Emmanuelle Monument off Piazza Venezia. Giancarlo Corona’s Gelateria Ara Coeli delivers great service, incredible flavors, and exceptional gelato. All the flavors here are seasonal and prepared without artificial ingredients. Try these for a special treat: White chocolate w/violet, cinnamon, Ravenna Cherry, and dark chocolate.
Via Della Rotonda, 22
This gelateria often gets “overlooked” because of Giolitti, Della Palma, and San Crispino locations nearby… but it well worth finding. Right next to the Pantheon, it has won numerous awards for it’s flavorful gelato. Also, for a change of pace, try the chocolate sorbetto-it’s an icier version of the gelato without the dairy – Ask for whipped cream on top. They also have great Stracciatella and pistachio flavored gelato.
Via Benedetta, 7 (behind Piazza Trilussa, in Trastevere)
This bar-pasticceria-gelateria belongs to the Porcellis. For three generations have operated their restaurant — Checco er Carettiere — next door at 10 – 13 Via Benedetta. Their delicious and genuine gelato, made in-house from fresh ingredients, is a reliable option if you’re in Trastevere, while their granita di caffe is up there with the best in the city.
Via Principe Eugenio, 65 (Piazza Vittorio, by the Termini Station )
The convenience of this gelateria makes it easy to find – and enjoy! You can get there walking, by subway, or by bus! I like to take the Metro A Line. Get off at metro station Vittorio Emanuelle and it’s a short walk to the east. Fassi is one of the oldest gelaterie in the country and just seeing their shop is worth a visit. It’s like going back in a time warp! It’s big, with all of the old Décor – quite an experience! They have tables there – with no surcharge for sitting and you’ll be surrounded by many locals! The best flavors? Locals recommend the strawberry, lemon, coconut, and chocolate!
Via di Lago Lesina 9/11 and Via Bettolo 7
These folks have multiple locations throughout Rome. They have some very unique and flavorful gelato. See the map for a location closest to you. And try some of these unique gelato flavors: basil with walnuts and honey; banana with sesame crunch;”crema agnese” – crème brûlée flavors with bits of caramelized sugar. One of our favorite spots in Prati!
10. Fior di Luna
Via della Lungaretta, 96
Located in the center of Trastevere, this gelateria features organic and fair-trade ingredients. The result is intensely and extremely flavorful gelato. They also have “sugar-free” gelato, sorbets, frozen yogurt, and chocolate! They only use fresh, in-season fruits… so you will not see a strawberry gelato in the winter! Try a hot chocolate instead!
Via Marcantonio Colonna, 34
This unique gelateria features Sicilan gelato, one of just a handful in town. You have to go here – find it, it’s well worth the effort. Locals pack this place… you cannot get near it around 9 PM on a summer night! They also have an incredible granita! And soy gelato, frozen yogurt, cannoli, and cassata sicilianna (a ricotta-cake dessert). There’s something for everyone! But the star here is the intensely flavored gelato… Try the cinnamon, chocolate and chili pepper, coconut, and the citrusy “Vitamine Etna.”
Via della Scala, 51 (Trastevere)
This is a very tiny gelateria with limited flavors but what they Do have is wonderful (until it runs out). If you’re in Trastevere, you have to seek out this gelateria which offers artisanal gelato prepared in small batches. Go find it!!! Photos from the Hunger Hunger Blogspot
Via dei Gracchi, 272 and Viale Regina Margherita, 212 (Porta Pia/Trieste)
This gelateria group has two locations in Rome and offer offers truly exceptional gelato, with gourmet flavors such as dark chocolate with Grand Marnier, or ricotta and pear, or pine nut – as well as favorites like gianduia or stracciatella. Try also the pistachio, bacio, and pear and caramel. he dark chocolate with Grand Marnier and the pistachio ones are so sinfully delicious you’ll want to camp out on the street for another scoop in the morning
Via di San Simone, 70 (Just off Via dei Coronari)
This is a gelateria that features ingredients from Sicily. It has outdoor seating in a tiny alley. The gelateria features many chocolate flavors – probably the richest chocolates in town (Or at least I’ve tried!). They also have other great flavors including cassata, tiramisu, caramel-pear, sesame, hazelnut, and ricotta-fig-almond.
Via della Maddalena, 20/23 (Pantheon area)
Dizzying experience with over 100 flavors to choose from – the Passion fruit is excellent. This place is huge and often very crowded. They usually have 16-20 flavors of chocolate flavored gelato. So if you’re a chocolate-freak, or like a lot of choices, this is the gelateria for you!
Via Cardinal Marmaggi 2-6 Trastevere
This gelateria is on a “main drag” in Trastevere: so it’s easy to find. It does have outdoor seating and has more than 50 flavors. A great spot to sit and take a break!
Via Uffici dei Vicario, 40
This is the grand-daddy of them all. This gelateria is more than 100 years old and full of tradition – and great gelato. Sure, it’s touristy, and the prices are a tad high… but it’s an institution you must visit if you’re going to have gelato in Rome. It has a huge local following… and it always full of tourists! The staff is very tourist friendly and will help you make your choices. Try the crema marrone (chestnut), which was rumored to be a favorite of Pope John Paul II, who sent his driver to pick up a tub whenever he was in the mood.
18. Gori Gelato
Piazza Menenio Agrippa, 8, Roma
This gelateria is located in the Nomentana section of town, a little out from the center and most of the tourist sites, but is well worth the journey! Gori features natural flavors, incredible quality, intense fruit gelato and very patient service! They also sell milkshakes, sorbets, frozen desserts and ice cream cakes. You’ll find yourself among many, many locals sampling some incredible gelato.
Via della Maddalena 30
Grom seems to be everywhere and now they are in Rome – located in between Della Palma and Giolitti. Natural ingredients and multiple flavors. Their stores may seem “vanilla” but their flavorful gelato is not! The photo on the left is from opening day at the Rome location.
Via Collina, 13-15 Rome, Italy
“If you haven’t heard of I Caruso, you’re not the only one. So far, it’s escaped notice even by Rome’s myriad foodies and gelato lovers, never mind guidebooks. In fact, it didn’t even make it onto any of the recent lists I’ve seen of Rome’s best gelato shops …That said, if I Caruso is a local secret, it’s one of the most popular local secrets I know. Every time I go, the place is crowded with Italians. Men in suits fresh from their work at one of the nearby banks, families, well-heeled women — they’re all here. And with reason.” From www.revealedrome.com
Viale dell’Aeronautica 105; Viale Aventino 59; and Piazza Monte d’Oro 91/92
“Rome foodies call Claudio Torcè the master for his crazy-creative flavors and high-quality, all-organic ingredients. Try his creations out for yourself, and prepare to be daring: would you prefer the gorgonzola with vinegar, ricotta with coconut and chocolate chips, or chili-flavored chocolate? (Don’t worry — there are more than 100 flavors, so you’ve got choices). Although the original location is in EUR, the newest outpost just opened right in the historic center, just off Via del Corso — so now there’s no reason not to miss it.” From www.walksofitaly.com
Via Della Panetteria; 42 Via Collatina – Roma Est Mall; Via Acaia, 56 Undoubtedly the most “celebrated” gelato in Italy. The original location was featured in the book, “Eat, Pray, Love.” They received a rave review from the NY Times… and it’s posted outside the original location at Via della Panetteria, 42, just down the street from the Trevi Fountain. This was the gelateria I had to eat at years ago when I came to Rome… but I have not been back in over a year. The prices are high and I’ve found other gelaterie closer to my home. But San Crispino is a wonderful gelateria. They have the purest flavors in Italy.. they pride themselves on NO artificial ingredients ever going into their gelato. Photo from Marina’s Bloggariffic
Via Romeo Rodriguez Pereira 170 (north-west of the Vatican)
This gelateria certainly is one incredible artisanal experience. They offer plenty of different tastes and combinations, ranging from fine vintage cognac to exquisite chocolate. Another great gelateria in Prati.
Via Oderisi da Gubbio, 71
Far off the tourist path, if you love Belgian chocolate, this is the place to head to. This is a newish gelateria and they are making an impact quickly. Great, intense, and unique flavors make them a strong, upcoming contender. They feature Belgian chocolate gelato, mandorla, starring almonds from Puglia and Sicily, apple and cinnamon gelato, pistachio, crema al vino porto (cream of port wine) and malaga (rum and raisin).
Via Luigi Poletti 6
The gelato at Neve di Latte is, quite sim¬ply, the best! The ingre¬di¬ents are organic, sourced and selected from the finest pro¬duc¬ers. These ingredients are combined into a delicious gelato, made here on site. Neve di Latte is the newest gelateria of Ermanno di Pomponi, who has been a leader in the industry for many decades. The family gelato tradition starte din 1946. Incredible and intense falvors are the hallmark of a Pomponi gelato.
Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo, 5
This gelateria is very close to the entrance of the Vatican Museum. It’s also the closest on the list to my house… so I’ve stopped by often. Nothing more than a hole in the wall, it has intense flavored gelato served in LARGE portions. Old Bridge is one of the best combinations of value and quality in Rome. At 8 PM and later, you’ll see 15-20 cars pulled alongside the road as locals go get their gelato. I’ve had mixed results here. When it was good, it challenged the best in town… but they have also been inconsistent. You will see tremendous lines of tourist groups here as the buses form up across the street. But it’s worth stopping by!
Via Gregorio VII 385
This modern gelateria is a 10-15 minute bus ride from St Peter’s Basilica. The flavors are incredible – creamy and light! All ingredients are fresh, all-natural and made without preservatives or colorings. Fresh, unpasteurized fruits, spring water, and sugar are all that are used in the sorbets. This is definitely a new spot to try!
So that’s the list. I’m sure there are MANY other GREAT gelaterie in Rome… and please send me your suggestions and we can add them to the list! Of course, first I’ll have to do a little roadwork and test your suggestion…. Then I’ll probably need some more “roadwork” to keep off the weight! Again, sacrifices must be made. Thanks for the suggestions!
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