Note I don't mean with dinner, I mean when I was out of the house at a dinner-ish sort of time, I deliberately ignored all the more normal, readily available and very cheap street food Rome has to offer and as my friends noshed down on pizza 'alla taglia' and arancini, I picked up a double or triple helping of the good stuff. Shameshameshame.
I even worked out a system of sorts. Dinner = main meal of the day, therefore my cup must contain only the higher calorie, creamy flavours (no sorbet here) and ideally there will be chunks.
I have a problem. Yes indeed.
My point is a) gelato is freaking incredible and b) I've eaten a fair bit, and got around little more over three months than the casual gelato munching tourist. So here are my top picks, both locations and flavours.
Except where I've drawn your attention to it, all prices are essentially the same, around 2-3E for the satisfying medium sized cup in the picture.
|Claudio Torce: blackberry and pineapple|
For chocolate, taste the vibrant chocolate with chilli first, it's a cracker but a bowlful would have been too, too much. Chocolate with orange is a winner, as is chocolate with ginger and lemon.
|Fatamorgana: Chocolate orange and 'Zabaglione Fatamorgana'|
2) Fatamorgana: Again, there are several branches, I've visited the Prati and Trastevere ones, which both had much the same selection. Here, I haven't really gone too wrong, despite ordering the craziest and most complicated flavours one after the other. I especially liked the Zabaglione Fatamorgana, a heady blend of port wine, rum and coffee beans that somehow tasted of all three, but not overpoweringly of alcohol. The only misfire here was a black rice and rosewater flavour that was certainly 'al dente'. To my Brit palate, anyway, the the rice was undercooked and crunched unpleasantly between my teeth. I can highly recommend their Basilico (basil) if it's in, ideally accompanied by lemon sorbet. My advice, really is to not be like me. Keep it simple, and certainly avoid mixing two of their crazier flavours in the same cone or cup!
|San Crispino: Black fig sorbet and caramel and meringue|
|Fior de Luna: cioccolata crudo and persmimmon|
Note that there was a lot more in this cup, I just dug in before I remembered the photo...
|Isola: genorous helpings of coconut and forest fruits|
5) Antica Gelateria dell'Isola: If you need to cross the Tiber, do it over the pretty Isola Tiburtina, home to a pretty little church, a bar, hospital and this gelateria. All flavours are tasty, the portions are mountainous and you can enjoy your cup or cone down my the river, metres from the fairytale 'Ponte Rotto' (broken bridge) by climbing down the steps by the side of the church and stretching out on the pavement behind. If they're stocking their biscotti or pina colada flavours that day, get at least one, but if not all the fruit flavours are intense and tiramisu is deliciously indulgent.
6) Gelateria del Teatro: My personal favourite, collecting all the flavours here has become a sort of personal mission, making this very much my 'local'. Pick up a business card when you go in, they've listed the flavours they consider the house specials and all are indeed pretty special. Rosemary, lemon and honey; pistachio; hazlenut; puro (raw unsweetened chocolate, easily stands up to Fior de Luna); Peach and lavender; strawberry and sparkling wine; ricotta, fig and almond are all, without exception, marvellous. The only offering that disappointed was white chocolate and basil. The white chocolate was strong sweet and, for me, overpowering compared to the basil which appeared as a wet tasting afternote. There was none of the freshness and vibrancy of the basil ice cream from Fatamorgana. Maybe basil just belongs with ice and citrus, rather than cream and sugar? Who knows but the overall effect reminded me strongly of the smell of the slimed bag of salad leaves I'd opened a few days too late that morning. Pity. Otherwise, I can almost guarantee you deliciousness in abundance.
|Gelateria del Teatro: all of the flavours, all of the gelato, all of the time x|
7) Ciampini: This cafe/bar/gelateria came highly recommended by a Rome-resident Neapolitan friend, so expectations ran high. The portions are pretty generous, (don't even try and manage a large unless, like me, you're getting dinner!), especially given the central location (near Piazza di Spagna) and the flavour is excellent. Pay at the 'cassa' (till) then head on over to read the brass signs above the stainless steel ice cream bins. They're all in Italian, so ask the English speaking waiters or take a chance on a mystery flavour, they're all pretty good. I liked the cioccolata fondente (dark chocolate) and 'pesca e pinoli' (peach and pine nut; a total guess of an order as far as 'pinoli' went!). The coconut is about the best I've eaten and even the relatively inauthentic sounding raspberry and nutella blend is very delicious, if a little odd.
8) Tazza d'Oro: Not a gelateria but their frozen coffee granita with cream is one of the real treats of a summer in Rome. At 2.50E for a cup that I always doubted I could even finish (it's strong in icy black coffee and rich and generous in cream), the value is good and it's the best coffee I've tasted. And it overlooks the Pantheon, so you can sit on the neighbouring fountain to enjoy in the good company of 2000-plus years of history.