If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to trek across the city of Rome in search of five different gelaterias within a two-day span, look no further! I took on the the arduous and back-breaking task of tasting the sweetest, creamiest, and most flavorful gelatos in Rome so you wouldn’t have to. Though I should admit, I reveled in every single minute of my journey.
And with that introduction, I now present a detailed, though in no way comprehensive review of just a few of the many gelato places and flavors I had the pleasure of experiencing for the first time. Disclaimer: Most of these places are just off the beaten path ‒ local favorites that are also easily accessible for those who are just visiting.
Stop One: Carapina
The first stop on my quest for truth and sugar was Carapina, an adorable shop located just on the outskirts of Campo di Fiori, a large open-air market in Rome. The store was empty when I came in, which was shocking for a Saturday night, so already luck was on my side. I started off with two fruit flavors –– strawberry and orange –– and felt immediately refreshed after just one bite. At first I thought I had been misheard and given a small cup of pure strawberry gelato, but the orange flavor kicked in and it did my Floridian heart good. While both flavors had a deep pink hue (the source of my confusion), the flavors felt distinct enough to stand out on their own, but also complement each other. Given its central location, I would definitely recommend this place to those in search of fresh, quality gelato, but who are only in town just long enough to see the major sights.
Stop Two: Fior di Luna
Just across the Tiber river, Trastevere is another bustling part of Rome that locals and tourists alike admire for its nightlife, restaurants and bars. So it’s no wonder that a gelateria as devoted to flavor and excellence as Fior di Luna can be found in a place that’s as easily accessible as Trastevere. Admittedly, I had to fight off swarms just to enter this place, so one might say even too accessible. Regardless, the men behind the counter were committed to my project, and ensured that I was informed before making my final decision. While I give honorable mentions to their Zabaione and Fred (biscuits and chocolate) flavors, the gold star definitely goes to their strawberry and duetto flavors. The strawberry, unlike the subtle but sweet recipe at Carapina, felt like a straight up blast of strawberries. You could absolutely tell from the bright red color and visible seeds alone that this was fresh and handmade. The natural sweetness of the berry complimented perfectly with the salty tang of duetto, which is a blend of pistachio and hazelnut and a favorite of customers. While indeed I noticed that their flavors were by far the most concentrated I have had, I learned that Fior di Luna actually refrains from offering cones at their establishment, distinctly so as not to distract the consumer from their bold flavors. I absolutely recommend this gelateria to anyone who, like me, lacks a refined palate, and enjoys savoring flavors that require less thought and more enjoyment.
Stop Three: Il Gelato di Claudio Torcé
If you’re looking for a unique gelato experience, this is the spot to hit. Il Gelato di Claudio Torcé boasts one of the most nontraditional assortment of gelato flavors I have seen yet. Black sesame, green tea, ricotta and habanero peppers are just a few flavors to demonstrate what I’m talking about. After much deliberation and pacing between their two freezers (shoutout to the woman behind the counter and her patience), I decided to combine their rice and cinnamon and ricotta, chocolate and coconut flavors and was instantly blown away. It was my first time tasting rice gelato, so while initially I was caught off guard by the individual rice grains in the gelato, it then became my favorite part. As for the ricotta flavor, an Italian classic with a hint of the tropics was the greatest thing I never knew I needed. Overall, this gelateria is worth multiple visits, and should be approached with a sense of adventure. Fortunately, they have multiple locations across Rome, which means multiple opportunities to experience the eccentricity!
Stop Four: Otaleg
Chocolate lovers rejoice, for Otaleg has what you want and then some. At this gelateria, there’s not one but ten different chocolate flavors made from cocoa beans found across the world––from the rainforests of Peru to the tropics of Central America––and are differentiated by percent of cocoa. Naturally, the chocoholic in me had to take a step back just to take it all in. Of course, they have a great collection of flavors apart from chocolate, so I decided to marry Blanco di Criollo with arachidi salate, which tasted just like frozen peanut butter. Criollo beans, I learned later, hail from Mexico and are one of three types of precious cocoa beans. This flavor in particular is composed of 70% cocoa with a hint of milk and could be described as nothing but rich. A word to the wise, this gelateria is a little hard to get to, but well worth the trip.
Last but not least…
Come il Latte
Unfortunately, my adventure had to end at some point, but I’m so glad that it ended here. Come il Latte surpassed every expectation in terms of presentation and flavor. Apart from the walls covered in milk bottles, what really caught my eye were the two chocolate fountains running just behind the counter. You heard right, not one, but two faucets: one white chocolate and one dark chocolate. Just what do you do with all that running chocolate you ask? Fill up the cone, because, why not? Top off that sweet cone with some salted caramel, and you have a match made in gelato heaven. To be honest though, the cone and the gelato made my heart flutter, but it was really the cinnamon whipped cream that truly stole the show. Caveat emptor or buyers beware: you have a lot of decisions to make when ordering, but the beauty of it all is getting to eat some gelato as unique as this shop! Just around the corner from Termini station, this should definitely be the first, if not the only gelateria you visit if you’re really pressed for time in Rome.
I sincerely hope that this has inspired your inner food critic as much as it has mine and I wish you the best of luck this summer on your search for a sweet, artisanal oasis.