Everywhere you go in Rome there are shops offering gelato, and since being here we have obligingly stuffed our faces. When we were discussing what to do on our last day in Rome, Eric said: ‘Why don’t we just eat a lot of icecream?’
‘Haha… no Eric,’ I said. The same “no” I give Eric every day when we finish our gelato and he almost immediately suggests having another one.
But then I thought about what Eric was saying, and it suddenly made complete sense. We’re adults. We can do what we like. If we want to eat a lot of gelato NOBODY CAN STOP US.
But we were going to do this properly, it wouldn’t just be any old gelato. So I did some research (I spent 4 minutes reading things online) and learned that good gelato doesn’t look like this:
It shouldn’t be piled up – as when above the freezer line it won’t be at the right temperature, and it shouldn’t have bright colours because this means that artificial, rather than natural ingredients will have been used. Interesting.
I then read through this very helpful article, and picked out a few recommended gelaterias that were around the centre of Rome. We plotted their locations on our map and off we went!
Location: Via del Corso, just off of Piazza san Lorenzo
I had: peach and pine nut, custard cream
Eric had: chocolate, wild strawberry
Price: 2.50 euros each for a small
Delicious factor (out of 10, 1 being “GelatNO”, 10 being “Gelato-h my”): 8
Level of staff rudeness (out of 10, 1 being free gelato and a warm handshake, 10 is having a spat-in gelato chucked at your head): 9
We went in. There was nobody at the gelato counter. After a minute a harassed-looking waiter saw us. He asked us what we wanted. I requested one scoop of peach and pine nut, and then asked him if there were any flavours which he would recommend for my second scoop.
He said no.
Not ‘I can’t, it’s up to you,’ not ‘They’re all good’. Just plain no. He said ‘No’ as if I had asked him something rude and inappropriate, like ‘Can I pat you on the head?’
I think he was having a bad day.
Taste: very creamy, the custard cream flavour really did taste like custard creams. You could really taste the cocoa in Eric’s chocolate scoop.
Eric says (you have to imagine this in a heavy Yorkshire accent as Eric assumed his “thick Yorkshireman” persona when I was asking for a statement): ‘It were tasty.’
2. Giolitti Gelateria
Location: Via Uffici edl Vicario (40)
I had: mela apple and wild berries (with a blob of complimentary cream)
Eric had: watermelon and raspberry (also with cream)
Price: 2.50 each for a small
Delicious factor: 8
Level of staff rudeness: 5
I saw a flavour called “Italian Opera” which sounded interesting, so thought I would give that a go.
I handed over my ticket and said ‘One scoop of Italian Opera please,’
The man said… something that I couldn’t understand.
‘Sorry?’ I said.
‘Dry? Fruit? What do you want?’
I was confused. What did “dry” mean? Hadn’t I just told him what I wanted? Did we have to choose some additional fruit to go on the gelato?
Completely lost, I resorted to the backup plan. ‘What do you recommend?’ I said.
He made a face which said “What do I look like? Somebody who sells gelato?” But to his credit he humoured the foreign idiot.
‘What do you like? Fruit? Chocolate? Vanilla?’ he asked.
‘Fruit,’ I said, ditching the Italian Opera plan entirely. Just give me gelato!
He picked out two flavours for me, asked if I wanted cream, whacked some on top and I had my gelato after a slightly less embarrassing exchange than the last time round.
We afterwards realised that he probably just hadn’t heard me when I said ‘Italian Opera’, maybe thinking I had said something like ‘Italian icecream’. I think “dry” refers to flavours like chocolate. Eating gelato is turning out to be harder than I thought.
Eric says: ‘It was very tasty alright. Real tasty and fancy. It wasn’t as good as the last one but still real tasty and fancy.’
3. Gelateria San Crispino
Location: Piazzadella Magdellana
I had: zabione (an Italian dessert made from eggs, sugar and wine), ginger and cinnamon
Eric had: yoghurt and blackberry
Price: 3.50 each for a small
Delicious factor: 6
Level of staff rudeness: 6
Buying passed without incident, but we were served by a man who had an expression like he had a job strangling puppies. He looked as if he had reached the point of unhappiness where he was just dead inside. I am not exaggerating (well, I’m exaggerating very slightly, but really you would think he was being forced to repossess property from helpless old age pensioners). Are there dark things that we don’t know about the gelato industry?
Taste: very creamy and rich, with subtle flavours. I didn’t like this gelato as much as the previous two, but this could be to do with my flavour choices and the fact that I was beginning to feel very full.
Eric says: ‘Real fancy like, and tasty.’
4. Gelateria del Teatro
Location: Via di Corronari
We shared: lemon and yoghurt
Price: 3.50 for a small
Delicious factor: 9
Level of staff rudeness: 3 (not rude!)
After a break we waddled our way to our last location. Gelateria del Teatro is a bit more out of the way than the other places we visited, but still quite central. What I immediately liked was that it was in a quieter area where there were actual Italian people relaxing in bistros, rather than us annoying tourists.
In this gelateria they had a ticket system, like at the post office. I liked this as well (made me feel at home). There were nice places to sit, and you could see the staff in the kitchen making the gelato.
We didn’t get a smile from the staff, but they looked kind of neutral about what they were doing – they weren’t happy, they weren’t sad. I didn’t feel like we were imposing on their time. They were polite enough. This is the closest we have come to a pleasant customer service experience during the gelatour!
Eric says: ‘Fandabby.’
That was it! We were stuffed. The winner for me is Gelateria del Teatro. Not only was the gelato the most delicious, but the staff didn’t seem to dislike me, think that I was an idiot or be caught up in their own intense unhappiness. A winning combination!
PS. Most gelaterias we have been to have very nice staff.