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ice cream shopGelato, which literally means “frozen” is the Italian word for ice cream. But there are big differences between the gelato you buy by the cup at an Roman gelateria and the ice cream you buy by the pint in other countries. The best gelato is made daily in small batches, while commercial ice cream is made in huge batches and kept frozen for long periods of time. Gelato has less air in it, and a lot less butterfat (0-8% as opposed to 16-30% in premium commercial ice cream). And it’s smoother and creamier because it’s kept at a lower temperature. While ice cream is kept at –10 farenheit, gelato is kept at a warm 7 degrees. Italians have a long history with frozen desserts. Marco Polo brought the idea back from China. And in Sicily, gelato makers learned their trade from the Arabs. In 1533, when Caterina de’ Medici married Henri d’Orléans, she took her cooks along to Paris. Her gelato maker, a former Tuscan chicken farmer named Ruggeri, became so famous he was beaten and robbed by jealous French chefs. He left his gelato recipe in a sealed envelope along with his resignation letter and fled back home to his chickens. But the recipe spread throughout Europe and the world. If you’re ready to indulge in the best frozen nectar in Rome, head to one of these gelaterie.

The hallmarks of great gelato: It must be made fresh daily on the premises, using only the finest seasonal ingredients, imported chocolate, spices and so on. Don't be fooled by the "artigniale" classification you may see advertised in many places. To get it, one just needs to add natural ingredients to prepackaged gelato base. You want the real thing, made from scratch.

Punto Gelato

Wonderful, inventive flavors, Ecuadoran chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, Bronte pistacchios, and for those who want to avoid sugar, several flavors are made with agave. For those who want to avoid sugar AND dairy, try their agave-sweetened milk-free fruit or coffee granita.
Via dei Pettinari 43 tel 06 083 95030 (near the Campo de'Fiori)
Piazza di Sant'Eustachio  tel 47 349 1447958


The speciality here is organic milk and ingredients strictly from Slow Food Italy's list of approved organic products, all locally sourced. They pride themselves on their original recipe and their cloud-like interior design. The gelaterie are franchises of a larger company that does catering and home delivery.
Via Gregorio VII, 385
C.so V. Emanuele II, 96
V.le G. Marconi, 207
Via F. Massimo, 64 (Prati)

Il Dolce Sorriso
A tiny gelateria, headed by master gelataio Raffaello Fracassi, with classic flavors like pistacchio, dark chocolate and hazelnut, as well as creative addition such as cheesecake and walnuts with carmalized figs. Fruit sherbets, mousses, frozen yogurt, frozen gelato cakes.
Via Arenula 25 (near the Ghetto, Campo de' Fiori)

One of the most beloved gelaterie in Florence has recently opened a branch in Rome, under the direct supervision of master gelato-maker Simone Bonini, whose mission is to raise gelato to a new level of excellence. He provides a changing selection of 16 flavors daily, a combination of the expected and the extraordinary, but eschewing flavors so exotic they don't make sense as a frozen treat. He is, however, famous for his cheese gelato, using gorgonzola or aged Parmesan. All the gelato is made fresh on the premises. The name is from the Italian word for the metal bucket from which the gelato is served.
Via dei Chiavari 37 (near Campo de' Fiori)

It’s one of Rome’s oldest and possibily its most famous gelaterie, dating to the early 1900’s, and the ice cream is still delicious. The service is perfunctory, since it’s almost always mobbed with tourists trying to decipher the italian names of all the many flavors: stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate flakes), gianduia (chocolate and hazlenut), amarena (black cherry). A few caveats: (1) Don’t hold-up the line, be ready to say "yes" or "no" when you’re asked if you’d like a topping of panna (whipped cream) –a question in the form of a single word: Panna? (2)Pay no attention to the cashiers who will rarely give you a smile. (3) Take your cone or cup for a walk. It's gauche to occupy a table licking a cone. Tables are for waiter service only, and the prices for table service are higher.
Two locations:
Via Uffici del Vicario, 40 tel 06 699 1243 (Parliament)
Via Luigi Settembrini, 21/23 tel 06 321 7499 (Prati) Open daily

Il Gelato di Claudio Torce

Torce is one of Italy's leading gelato masters, touted for his extraodinarily light and smooth textureAs with most artignal gelaterie, this one offers a range of the most popular flavors, as well as creative specialities, a staggering 70 flavors in all. The creation of master gelataio Claudio Torcè.
Viale dell'Aeronautica 105 (Eur)
Viale Aventino 59 (near Circus Maximus) is a franchise with about 40 flavors on offer.

Il Gelato San Crispino
The name is a mouthful, so we call it simply "Crispino". The gelato is considered by many to be the best in Rome, all freshly made on the premises and as the slogan says, "the only preservative is refrigeration.” No cones are offered, just cups in three sizes. The pear and chocolate meringue are among our favorites. Open noon to 12:30 am weekdays, noon to 1:30 am Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday.
Via della Panettteria, 42 tel 06.67 93 924 (Trevi fountain)
Piazza della Maddalena 3 (steps from the Pantheon)
Via Acaia, 56 tel. 06.70 45 0412 (San Giovanni)
Via Bevagna, 90 tel 06.33 22 1075 (Flaminio)
And at the RomaEst shopping mall, and Fiumicimo airport, terminal A

Gelateria al Teatro

Like the churches in Rome, gelaterias seem to pop up at every corner. So much so, that it is difficult to find a genuine gem. Always remember, pistachio is never bright green and banana is always grey. Meander around Piazza Navona and you will find Gelateria al Teatro, an authentic gelateria to quench the taste buds. The owners, Stefano and Silvia, are quick to offer tastes of their homemade specialties. They have traditional gusti: nocciola, crema, stracciatela, along with the unfamiliar white peach, fig, sesame and our personal favorite zabaione zibibbo. Unlike so many in the city, al Teatro offers gluten-free cones and a selection of vegan or non-dairy flavors. Look for it behind the stairs on a tiny street.
Via dei Coronari 65-66
Lungotevere dei Vallati 25 (near via Arenula between Ponte Garibaldi and Ponte Sisto)
Everyday from 11 to midnight (1 am on weekends) tel 06 45474880

Fior di Luna
While we find the flavors here a bit less rich and creamy than some of our other favorites, this place is unique in that all of its products are organic and responsibly produced, as they adhere to the tenants of the Commercio Equo e Solidale. In addition to a nice selection of gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt flavors, the little shop carries organically produced pastas, healthy biscuits, oils, teas and gift items. For the diet conscious, they offer sugar-free gelato. The fruit flavors will cost you only 60 calories for 100 grams. Open Sunday-Saturday, noon - 1 am. Closed Monday.
Via della Lungaretta 96 tel 06 6456 1314 (Trastevere)

Gelateria Fata Morgana
Known for its unique combinations of flavors and dedication to making gelato from scratch using exclusively fresh, seasonal ingredients, with nearly 50 flavors, including almond-cardamon, basil-honey-walnut, pear and gorgonzola, poppy seed, white chocolate and pine nuts, and wasabi (dark chocolate and horseradish).
Via Via Lago di Lesina 9 (near Via Salario)
Via G. Bettolo 7 (Prati)
Piazza degli Zingari 5 (Monti)
Via Lago di Lesina 9 (near Via Salaria)
Via Laurina 10 (Piazza di Spagna)
Piazza degli Zingari 5, (Monti)
Via Roma Libera 11 (Trastevere)
Via Aosta 3 (Re di Roma)

This is a chain with far-flung outposts all over Rome and more throughout Italy, in Malibu, Tokyo, Osaka, Paris and New York, but it's a cut above, using organic ingredients, fresh and in season, with the requisite array of exotic flavors like licorice, and strawberry merangue as well as the tried and true. Special vegan and celiac-friendly flavors, granitas and hot chocolate.
Via della Maddalena 30 A (historic center)
Via Agonale 3, (just off Piazza Navona)
Via dei Giubbonari 53 (Campo de' Fiori)
Via Tuscolana, 1370 (Largo Appio Claudio)
Galleria Commerciale Porta di Roma
Centro Commericla Euroma 2

Romans Recommend: Neve di Latte
The ingredients are extremely high quality and, of course, all natural. Creamy flavors are made with milk and cream from a biodynamic producer in Germany whose cows graze at around 1,400m above sea level. The chocolate is Amadei, the eggs are Parisi, the fruit is organic, seasonal, and mainly local (fairtrade Peruvian bananas are an exception), the vinegar (yup, there is “vinaigrette” flavor) is 25-year aged Balsamic from Modena. The list goes on and on and all ingredients are proudly listed alongside each flavor displayed the refrigerated case.
Recommended by Katie Parla. Read about Katie on our Meet the Romans pages.
Via Luigi Poletti 6 (Flaminio)

Romans Recommend: I Caruso
"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(Flaminio)
Recommended by food writer Elizabeth Minchilli.
Read about Elizabeth on our Meet the Romans pages. www.ElizabethMichilliinRome.com

Romans Recommend: Il 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)
Recommended by food writer Elizabeth Minchilli. Read about Elizabeth on our Meet the Romans pages. www.ElizabethMichilliinRome.com

Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi

One of Rome's oldest gelato purveyors, in business since 1880, this ice cream parlor has held onto its mythical reputation through four generations. It’s all nostra produzione (our own production). Known for il ninetto (a chocolate and cream cone), and a variety of other frozen treats, such as cassata sicliana, ice cream cake, semifreddo and tartufoni (a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream imitating the form and color of truffles). The place is huge, large enough to handle a crowd. Closed Monday.
Via Principe Eugenio 65-67 tel 06.44 64 740 (near Termini train station)
Via Vespasiano, 56/a-b-c tel 06 397 251 64 (Prati)


Come il Latte
The name means "like milk" and the ingredients are all free of added hydrogenated fats, artificial colors and flavors. They strive to be sure the gelato is served at the optimal temperature, and that it's always freshly made. The flavors are great if not exotic: rice and cinnamon among the most interesting.
Via Silvio Spaventa, 24/26 (near Termini train station) tel 06 429 03882

Away from the hustle and bustle, this small family-run gelateria has the air of a familiar Roman neighborhood hang-out. Service is pleasant and efficient. The ice cream is produced on the premises (produzione artiginale). Their frozen blend of the freshest fruits and cream is the best we’ve had in Rome.
Via Duse 1/e tel 06 807 9300 (Parioli) Closed Sunday Open till midnight.

Dolci Desideri
This is a bakery to take your breath away, for the, appetizer tarts, cakes and pastries, the chocolate-covere- orange peel you've ever eaten and for the gelato! Like everything else here, it's beyond delicious.
Via Anton Giulio Barrilli 56/62 (Monteverde Vecchio)

Gelateria Miami
One of the best in the city since 1940, and don't just stop in for a cone, take  home one of their beyond amazing gelato cakes. They also have a tantalizing selection of artisanal chocolates.
Piazza Cucchi 7 (Monteverde Vecchio)

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In Rome Now Travel Guide: Rome Italy Gelato, Italian Ice Cream