Oh, gelato. How I miss you dearly. You were such a wonderful companion as I traversed the streets of Rome, sometimes without even looking up. Head down, mini-spoon in hand, fingers sticky with melting gelato, my only obstacles came in the form of slippery cobblestones and the warm sun.
For six days you were a daily habit. My only regret is not having more of you.
Why is gelato so good?
Gelato is different from ice cream in that it is made with more milk than cream and has less air churned into it. This makes it denser and more flavorful. Gelato is also served at a slightly warmer temperature, which proves dangerous on a hot day.
Although 80% of gelato in Rome is fake (meaning it is made from a mix), even the fake stuff we stumbled upon still tasted pretty good. Regardless, in an effort to have only the best of the best while in Rome, we scoured the city for only gelato made with all natural, real and seasonal ingredients.
So, how can you tell if it’s fake gelato? First, if all the flavors look fluffed up and perfectly rolled on display, there is a high chance it’s fake. Secondly, check out the color of the pistachio. If it is unnaturally green, the flavors are probably unnatural. The pistachio should be an earthy green like the actual nut itself.
The creamiest at Il Gelato di San Crispino – Via della Panetteria, 42 e in Via Cilicia, 00187 Rome, Italy
The gelato at San Crispino is a tad more expensive than at other gelaterias, but the cost is reflective of the quality. I had a cup of ‘vanilla bourbon’ and ‘ginger cinnamon’ and it was divine. The two flavors went together so perfectly and it was so delightfully creamy. This gelato seemed more similar to ice cream in texture.
The most unique flavors at Gelateria del Teatro – Via di San Simone, 70, 00186 Rome, Italy
Feeling adventurous, I ordered the ‘white chocolate basil’ and ‘garden sage and raspberry’. The flavors were so unique, herbal and refreshing. I felt like I was eating herbs, but in a good, non-overpowering way. While I probably wouldn’t order them again, they were delicious, refreshing and so worth a try. I think this is the most unique dessert I’ve had to date.
The best zambaione and panna at Bar Giolitti – Via Amerigo Vespucci 20, Rome, Italy
This authentic bar isn’t fancy and you wouldn’t expect it to have some of the best gelato in Rome. Located in the Testaccio neighborhood, this is the place for authentic Italian flavors like ‘zabaione’ and ‘stracciatella’. I had both with a big helping of panna (cream). It was the best whipped cream we had in all of Rome and the flavors were absolutely perfect. Simon ordered the chocolate and wouldn’t stop talking about it.
My best overall cup at Fatamorgana Gelato – Via Roma Libera, 11, 00153 Rome, Italy
I had the gelato at Fatamorgana twice, and while the first time I probably ordered the wrong flavors, it was the second cup that blew me away. The flavors ‘ricotta and citrus cheese’ and ‘strawberry and walnut’ were a match made in heaven. I don’t think I said anything until the whole cup was gone. And then I scraped it clean.
At Fatamorgana they use only natural and raw ingredients for the gelato. Many of the flavors are quite innovative, like ‘chocolate tobacco’. If you happen to find yourself in Trastevere, don’t miss this spot.
Have you had gelato in Rome? Which places are your favorite?