Given that today’s a national holiday, it’s hot, and there’s pie and ice cream and lots of eating…
Yeah, it’s a pretty weak segue. Really, it’s just an excuse to relive the gelato experience!
This ranking is sort of inadequate, because ALL the gelato in Italy was so good. So, for example, the fact that much-loved Giolitti comes in 7th doesn’t mean that it was bad… it just means that everything else was even better. Mmmm.
#1. Grom, Florence. Grom has branches open in NYC, so perhaps it would make the experience seem less special. But no. This was outstanding: albicocca, raspberry, yogurt flavors blended so beautifully together. Light, refreshing, natural; like eating the fruits themselves, but in delectable icy form. The texture was a perfect balance of icy and creamy, and the mix of flavors were the perfect complement. Sigh. I’m in love.
#2. Gelateria dei Gracchi, Rome. We walked right past this gelateria, even while looking for it on the map! It looks like a humble little hole in the wall, but it has inventive flavors that are truly delicious. Crates full of fruit line the back wall of the kitchen, and these flavors explode with natural ingredients.
Pictured here: ricotta pear, strawberry, toasted almond orange. Every bit of the strawberry flavor was chock full of little strawberry seeds.
Side note: there is nothing more delightful than seeing a full-grown man in a suit licking an ice cream cone with abandon. With gelato this good, anyone could stay a kid at heart forever.
#3. Gelateria Stalin, Cinque Terre. Okay okay, so this gelateria has since given itself a new name that I forgot, because I prefer the original. Yes, the owner’s name was really Stalin.
As you can tell, I gravitated towards fruity flavors because the days were so hot, I wanted something fresh over a nutty nocciola or rich chocolate, which sits heavier on the palate. Here, I got strawberry and bacio–can never go wrong with those two! Also, there’s nothing like having just hiked for five hours to make an ice cream taste extra delicious.
#4. Tre Scalini, Rome. Nothing but pure chocolate in that cup. It was pretty awesome.
#5. Gelateria Artisanale, Cinque Terre. Hmm, I can’t quite remember which flavors these were. I’m guessing coffee and pistachio? What I do remember is sitting in Corniglia’s teeny tiny town square and loving every bite. Also it was one of the best-value servings of gelato–cheaper but no less delicious–which makes it a steal!
#6. Unnamed gelateria, Florence. This was basically the first thing I did when I landed in Italy. Went to the nearest little sidewalk gelateria and got myself a giant scoop of pistachio on a cone. And it was delicious. They do say Florence has the best gelato, and this is proof that you can’t go wrong!
#7. Giolitti, Rome. My friend says Giolitti is his favorite in Rome, and as you can tell from all the empty vats, it’s certainly a popular spot. Maybe I ordered the wrong flavors here, but I wasn’t so impressed. The texture was icier than creamy, and by that time we’d had so much gelato, we preferred the others.
#8. Gelateria Carrozze, Florence. I think this early lesson steered me towards fruitier flavors for the rest of the trip. The gelato at Carrozze was delicious — I got hazelnut that had a chunky, nutty texture, and a bittersweet chocolate — but it was way too rich. With the heat, the sun, the dehydration, I actually couldn’t finish this serving of gelato. It was very sad.
#9. Magnum Pistachio, Rome. This comes last only because it came out of a package, but it was pretty darn good too! You have to get a Magnum in every country, and try to find the best flavor in each. Of all the ones I’ve had so far, this ranks on top.
And special mention to some non-gelato desserts:
Granita di caffe con panna from Tazza d’Oro, Rome. We discovered this heavenly concoction on our last day in Rome. This is a mixed blessing because on the one hand, I’m so mad I only got to have this once. On the other, I ate so much on this trip, it’s probably a mercy that I didn’t have this more than once. An intense shot of iced espresso mixed in with thick cream, with whipped cream on top–the best iced coffee frappe you’ll ever have.
Dessert at my friend’s wedding in Seville: Vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce, and some kind of iced chocolate mousse. This was actually pretty incredible. I ate it all.
Earl grey panna cotta infused with orange, Comptoir de la Gastronomie, Paris. I already wrote about this in a prior post, but this was also amazing. Possibly the best panna cotta I’ll have for a long while.
Happy 4th! May your day be full of sweets.