As far as I’m concerned, Rome is a gelato aficionado’s Mecca. I mean, the place is just rife with gelaterie. And as with any business that has to vie for tourists’ attention, they’re all trying to one-up each other. While maintaining standards and coming up with new ideas like that might be difficult for the proprietors of such establishments, it’s a big win for me – I mean, the consumer.
While we were in Rome a few weeks ago, my Assistant Gelato Expert-in-Training, Rachel, and I hit all the gelaterie we could. For anyone who thinks I extenuate, or set down ought in hyperbole, try this one on for size: Rachel kept track of all the flavors of gelato she tried (just her, not me), and she wasn’t counting the free sample spoonfuls they give out to indecisive customers. She racked up 22 different flavors in five days.
After all that taste testing, I think it’s safe for us to give a list of our favorite gelaterie a Roma.
This is my all-time favorite gelateria. Hands-down. I first came here with one of my professors when I was studying in Rome, and, honestly, that was the only way I would have found the place. It was tucked back along one of the streets just along the Tiber; to me, it looked more like an alleyway, and I never would have gone down it. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did.
All-natural ingredients meets out-of-this-world flavor combinations in this little shop, which has expanded its operation since I was there four years ago, and I couldn’t be happier that they did. It means that I was able to get some of the best gelato ever in not one, but two parts of the city. Their flavors change periodically, depending on what ingredients they can find, and they include (but are not limited to): lemon and rosemary, basil and white chocolate, a fantastic almond, and the blue-ribbon flavor of the week, pumpkin and dark chocolate. It sounds weird, I know, but it was amazing. I had to go back for seconds.
Visit Del Teatro at:
Via dei Coronari, 65 (across the river from Castel Sant’Angelo)
Lungotevere dei Vallati, 25 (across the river from the Trastevere neighborhood)
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 12am daily
When you go to visit the Vatican Museum, as is obligatory during a visit to Rome, follow the Vatican Wall back toward St. Peter’s Square. At Piazza del Risorgimento, there’s a hole-in-the-wall gelateria with an awning that reads: Old Bridge. If you can’t spot the awning right away, look for the massive line that’s spilling out of the ten-square-foot shop. On a hot Roman summer afternoon, this is a perfect stop for a pick-me-up between a museum tour and a passeggiata around Piazza Navona.
The gelato at Old Bridge is good. Definitely above average – and about ten times better than any chain gelateria you’ll find in Italy. However, it’s the portion size that’s the star of the show here. At Old Bridge, you pay 1€ per scoop. That means that a trifling 3€ gets you half a meal and one great, big, whipped cream-topped smile.
Visit Old Bridge at:
Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo, 5
Opening Hours: 9am – 2am Monday through Saturday, 2:30pm – 2am Sunday
If you’re in the vicinity of Piazza Navona, but don’t have the patience to wait in line at Frigidarium (which, while having good gelato, is mostly popular for dipping their cones in chocolate), skip on down to CamBio Vita, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump down the way.
This place does a little bit of everything, from panini to crepes, but Rachel and I only had eyes for the gelato. Most of their flavors are organic, some even being vegan. This isn’t necessarily a selling point for me, given that gelato is supposed to be made with milk, but they also had a good variety of non-vegan flavors to choose from.
We started out with a cup of banana and Nutella gelati, per the recommendation of the staff, and quickly ended up with a second cup full of strawberry and lemon. Between those, the guy behind the case plied us with sample after sample of different flavors. Believe you me, we didn’t have a bad one.
Visit CamBio Vita at:
Via del Governo Vecchio, 54
Opening Hours; 10:00am – 11:00pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Monday
Is your list different from mine? Leave a comment below!