The Inside Scoop on Rome's Gelato
Where do Romans go for a cup? A local food writer steers us beyond tourist favorites to six artisanal gelaterias churning out creative, all-natural flavors.
DECODING THE GELATO EXPERIENCE
* Know your rights
No matter what size cone or cup you get, you are always entitled to at least two flavors. You will get strange looks if you request only one. Panna (whipped cream) is usually included in the price.
* The original ice cream sandwich?
The Sicilian tradition of serving gelato inside a brioche, a sweetened bun, instead of in a cup or on a cone, has migrated north to Rome. Most gelaterie in the city offer the option of brioche con gelato. The best and freshest brioche are at Ciuri Ciuri (via Leonina 18/20, 011-39/06-4544-4548; via Labicana 126/128, 011-39/06-4542-4856; Largo Teatro Valle 1/2, 011-39/06-9826-2284; Piazza San Cosimato 49b, 011-39/06-9521-6082; ciuriciuri.it).
* Frozen treats beyond gelato
Granita, popularized in Sicily but now fully adopted by Romans, is a refreshing, slushy dessert that comes in a cup with a spoon. The most popular flavors are coffee, almond, and lemon. Cremolato is similar to a granita but has a chunkier consistency because it's mixed with bits of fruit and nuts. Semifreddo is a semi-frozen custard. In Rome, several flavors of semifreddo are often layered with coarsely chopped nuts and served in transparent cups to show off the colors and layers.
* A disappearing Roman tradition
Grattachecca is a classic Roman summer treat made with shaved ice and fruit syrups. There used to be grattachecca kiosks all over the city, open only in the summer, but nearly all of them have disappeared. You can catch the few that are left on Lungotevere (the road trimming the Tiber River), at Ponte Milvio, and near Trastevere. Check out Sora Mirella on Lungotevere degli Anguillara, near Tiber Island's Ponte Cestio (no phone).