Steer clear of lurid colours, avoid huge, overflowing mounds of gelato and look for seasonal flavours. Stick by these rules and you’ve got a good chance of enjoying decent gelato. To find the very best, go with a recommendation. These 10 tried-and-tested gelaterias serve up pure joy in every scoop.
Since opening his first gelateria in 2003, Claudio Torcè has become well-known for his innovative and experimental flavours. He was one of the first to use non-traditional ingredients such as celery, gorgonzola and habanero chilli, and his creative, all-natural approach has influenced a wave of gelato-makers across Rome. Whether it be classic strawberry, bold ginger or the expertly blended pear, port and toasted almond, Torcè nails it every time. The original location on Viale dell’Aeronautica has the most choice and is well worth the trip (take metro B to Laurentina). A recent rebrand sees the gelateria switch to fructose (which has a lower glycemic index than standard sugar), lactose-free milk and gluten-free cones. The gelato remains exceptional.
With offerings like basil-walnut-honey, yoghurt-cumin and chocolate-wasabi, Fatamorgana is well-known for its creative combinations. Embrace the unconventional and you’ll be rewarded with complex, harmoniously blended flavours. The simple classics can still be found and, as with all the gelato here, are made with top-quality ingredients that follow the seasons. Both the cones and gelato are gluten-free – owner Maria Agnese has Celiac disease – and other allergens, like milk and eggs, are clearly labelled. There are now multiple locations across town but the shop in Monti is perfectly placed for visitors to soak up piazza life while enjoying a cono or coppetta.
The retro-kitsch design of Fior di Luna in Trastevere doesn’t exactly scream artisanal, small-batch gelato. Décor aside, though, the gelato here is natural, unadulterated and consistently delicious. All the fruit sorbets (except for lemon) are made with only fruit and sugar, meaning each scoop is a concentrated essence of flavour. The shop also produces its own range of raw chocolate bars so, as you’d expect, the chocolate gelato offerings are numerous and ever-popular. Try it spiked with chilli, Sichuan pepper, figs, rum or orange, or sample the range of sorbets that showcase single-origin chocolate from locations like Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador.
With no fancy marketing – even the shop sign is barely visible – the Gelateria del Pigneto retains a strong neighbourhood vibe. Locals head to this unassuming shop for the excellent and ever-changing gelato. Flavours range from trusty stalwarts like hazelnut, pistachio and strawberry to more unusual creations such as carob, cardamom and acacia flower. Take a look at the Facebook page for snapshots into the gelato-making process and the provenance of the ingredients, as well as the occasional cry of support for AS Roma from owner Filippo Ruggieri.
The secret to Günther Rohregger’s rich and intensely flavoured gelato is his careful selection of high-quality ingredients. The milk is organic and microfiltered, and even the water used for sorbets is specially chosen for its mineral content. Gourmet ingredients are combined to create a vast array of savoury and sweet flavours – there’s buffalo milk from Lazio with Madagascan pink pepper, ricotta with strawberry and balsamic vinegar, and walnut and gorgonzola, as well as more traditional offerings. A man obsessed, Günther also creates new ranges with each season – this summer’s theme is ‘gusti light’, composed of a series of refreshing gelati and sorbets to help beat the heat.
This tiny ice cream shop near Largo Argentina does knock up typical flavours – coffee, pistachio and crema, to name a few – but its gelati infused with unexpected herbs and spices are infinitely more enticing. Lemon-basil and orange-lemon-chilli are both refreshing upgrades on the usual sorbet flavours, while turmeric-lemon-honey is aromatic, earthy and exceptionally creamy. The rapid rotation of flavours, depending on which ingredients are at their best, means it’s worth dropping by regularly.
What started as a local gelateria in the residential neighbourhood of Prati has now grown into a four-location enterprise with a reputation for serving some of Rome’s best gelato. It’s all thanks to founder Alberto Manassei’s dedication to using natural ingredients without preservatives, dyes and hydrogenated fats. Thanks to their perfect textures and intense creaminess, the nut flavours are particularly noteworthy and include hazelnut, almond and the famed pistacchio di Bronte. Combos like pear and caramel or riso al miele (a rice pudding type affair) are also skillfully done.
Ivy-clad and tucked into a corner of Via dei Coronari, the Gelateria del Teatro occupies some picturesque real estate. Happily, the gelato is just as appealing as the location. Peek into the open kitchen to examine the quality ingredients for yourself – pistachios from Bronte in Sicily, licorice from Calabria and lemons from the Amalfi Coast. Just like an Italian home, they use a Moka pot to brew espresso, which then goes on to become an intense and aromatic coffee gelato. The fondente al Nero d’Avola, made with dark chocolate and Sicilian red wine, is reason enough to visit.
Located near the MAXXI in Rome’s Flaminio neighbourhood, Neve di Latte is kind of out of the way. Nevertheless, this gelateria inspires a dedicated following of fans who come from far and wide to taste carefully curated ingredients in gelato form. Organic produce is preferred and DOC/DOP – criteria that guarantee origin and production technique – ingredients feature heavily. Standout flavours include chocolate (made with prestigious Amadei chocolate) and pistachio. Interestingly, this gelateria whips up two different pistachio flavours, one with nuts from Bronte in Sicily, the other using nuts from Iran.
Marco Radicioni, once a pupil of Claudio Torcè, whips up around 60 flavours in his Monteverde-based shop. There are the usual crowd-pleasers, such as pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate, plus a selection of experimental offerings like horseradish mayonnaise, wild fennel and craft ale. Radicioni credits his perfectly textured gelato to more time-consuming production techniques and his vertical Cattabriga machine, which incorporates less air into the mixture. A second, more convenient-for-most Otaleg location is set to open imminently in the neighbourhood of Trastevere.