Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Gelato Round-Up

We like gelato - a lot.  What's not to like?!  Technically, gelato is denser and richer than ice-cream since it has a lot less air churned into it (~20% air vs ~60% air in ice-cream) and a softer texture.

Our first stop in Rome was Gelateria del Teatro, a newish hand-made place down an ivy-covered alleyway a few blocks from Piazza Navona.  Following our usual family pattern, Narisa had white peach and strawberry, Amara had stratiaccella and chocolate, Sean had puro (a super dark chocolate) and tartufo and I had lavender flowers/white peach and sparkling strawberry.  Plus we shared a surprisingly rich granita of mint and lime, that tasted of fresh mint leaves.  It was a great first stop - traditional flavors plus a few nouveau experiments that were lovely.  And rich, rich, rich!  We made multiple stops back here during the rest of the trip.

The next stop of note was Gelateria Corona.  I had lemon with basil and wild strawberry, Amara had chocolate and stracciatella.  The fruit flavors were excellent and the chocolate was also pronounced to be two thumbs up.

The third stop on the list was a little disappointing - Alberto Pica had been written up in multiple guides.  But it was just so-so.  I had chocolate and rice, which was a slightly odd combo - I also asked for pear, but I guess he did not hear me.  Amara really liked hers - hazelnut and chocolate which if she spooned carefully, combined into an excellent nutella-like concoction.

The next stop was San Crispino - chocolate meringue and Valrhona chocolate for me, peach and lemon for Sean, stracciatella and peach for Narisa and Valrhona chocolate and nocciola for Amara.  The shop was interesting - the gelato was kept in steel bins with lids so you couldn't see the actual gelato until you ordered it.  And the service was almost surly.  This was the gelateria featured in Eat, Pray, Love and most reports say it's gone downhill due to its enormous popularity, and the original proprietors are now too busy expanding their empire to maintain their previous quality levels.  I have to say the peach was amazing - I'd go back just for that one single flavor.

Frigidarium was another local gelato place, not as high profile as the others, but recommended nonetheless - plus an ideal location just 3 mins away from our apartment.  They had some excellent cream flavors including a vanilla caramel specialty and another vanilla swirled with nutella.  Plus they gave very generous servings! And you could get whipped cream or a chocolate dip at no additional charge. We went back there a few more times and concluded this was the best quality/value combo, although their flavor selection was not huge.

Venchi was a beautiful place we happened on - not written up anywhere but it seemed to have a big focus on chocolate flavors (and also sold other chocolate items).  It was such a pretty store plus interestingly enough, sold low cal gelato.  Which was quite delicious - plus we also tried their gianduja and chocolate flavors.  A nice find.  They had just run out of Azteca Chocolate though, I was sad.

We also stopped at Il Gelato one evening - almost too many flavors to choose from - 20 different kinds of chocolate alone.  Venezuelan, Madagascar, Columbian - you could get gelato made from sourced cocoa, and then labelled with % intensity!  It was a little complicated to choose and I was still rather stuffed from dinner.  It would have merited a return trip but alas, we were not in that part of town again.

Another place that came highly recommended was Giolitti, near the Pantheon.  Supposedly the successor to Il Crispino for best gelato in Rome, I found the service to again be surly, with almost a factory element with the huge lines of people.  The gelato was just ok.  By Day 5 here, I was getting pretty picky about the whole gelato experience!  Really nice flavors, but the hassle factor was too high to be overcome.

We also tried the special tartufo flavor and fancy sundaes at Tre Scalini, a pretty cafe right on Piazza Navona with a view of Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain.  With sundaes running at €13, it's a pretty pricey stop, but you are paying for the atmosphere of being right on the square.

And finally, Fiordiluna in Trastervere - we had stopped by earlier in the week and it was closed, so a return trip was in order.  Again, a nice place, but nothing completely memorable.

So, that's it for our Rome gelato experience.  Even walking 30,000 steps a day, I am pretty sure I have gained a few lbs.  Thankfully, there is not a scale in sight so I won't worry about it!

1 comment:

Leslie M said...

I had two today and reading this was the wrong thing to do,