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Finding the best gelato in Rome was a passion project that we attacked with sweet vigor. Read on to discover our picks for the eight best Rome gelato shops.
We expected Rome’s gelato to be good. After all, Italy is gelato’s epicenter and Rome is its capital city.
Our first trip to the Italy in 2010 was a rushed, rainy blur. We’re ashamed to say that we have no memory of eating any gelato in Rome during that visit. At least we ate gelato (among other things) in Florence and Bologna.
Since then, over the past decade, we’ve licked cones all over Italy from Matera in the south to Trento in the north without disappointment. Before returning to Rome in late 2020, we really didn’t expect its gelato to be remarkably different since there’s plenty of good gelato all over the boot.
We were wrong.
As it turns out, gelato in Rome isn’t good. It’s great. It may very well be the pinnacle of gelato enjoyment.
Since our first visit, the city’s gelato scene has morphed into a gelato movement. Roman gelato shops transform natural, local, seasonal ingredients into creamy, dreamy, urbane flavors reflective of the sprawling Italian capital’s zeitgeist.
It’s enough to make us swoon.
We didn’t have to look hard to find dozens of famous gelato shops in Rome – they’re located all over the city, with several gelaterias operating multiple locations. Even better, the best Rome gelaterias serve world-class cones for less than €5 and sometimes as low as €2.
In our opinion, Rome has the best gelato in Italy.
We get that this is a bold assertion. We know that Florence is the birthplace of modern gelato and we appreciate that Bologna has a prestigious gelato university that attracts aspiring gelato producers from around the world. They’re both great Italian cities for gelato without debate or doubt.
But, all that being said, Rome is our favorite Italian city when it comes to eating gelato.
The Best Gelato in Rome
Finding the best gelato in Rome isn’t an endeavor for the weak. It involves a strenuous regime that starts in the morning and ends at night. It also involves traipsing the city with pit stops at iconic sites like the Vatican, Pantheon, Colosseum and Trevi Fountain.
While this endeavor sounds fun, it can be grueling when combined with afternoon pasta sessions and evening pizza feasts. We utilized intense planning skills as we juggled our time and stomach space among Rome’s sweet and savory food specialties.
With just five days in Rome during a break between pandemic lockdowns, we were up for the challenge. In fact, we embraced the endeavor with a gusto fueled by both gelato and multiple cups of Rome’s finest coffee.
After taste testing a LOT of gelato both on cones and in cups, these are our eight favorite gelato shops in Rome:
1. Come il Latte
Eating gelato at Come il Latte was stressful for us. First we had to choose from a list of more than 20 gelatos and fruit sorbets. Then we had to make tough decisions about chocolate sauces and homemade panna montata (Italian whipped cream).
The stress was enough to make us consider opting for an ice cream sandwich or sundae instead. However, we stayed strong and ordered a medium sugar cone with three gelato flavors, two different chocolate sauces and no panna montata. To our pleasant surprise, a chocolate coated wafer completed the ensemble.
Named after the milk that’s the primary ingredient in creamy gelato, Come il Latte, open since 2011, locally sources ingredients like fresh milk, organic eggs and seasonal fruit. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the gelato.
The shop also reaches around the globe to obtain specialty ingredients like vanilla, cocoa, pistachios, hazelnuts and cinnamon for flavors, both classic and creative, as well as ingredients for those on restricted diets. Yes, Come il Latte has options for gelato lovers who follow sugar-free, low-carb and vegan diets.
But wait, there’s more. We saved the best bit for last.
Come il Latte’s fountains flow with dark and white chocolate sauce. When we asked whether we could choose both sauces for no extra charge, the answer was yes and, in a remarkable example of quick decision making, that’s exactly what we did.
2. Fatamorgana Gelato
With a mission statement that places nature over tricks, Maria Spagnuolo’s Fatamorgana sells some of Rome’s most unique gelato flavors. She must be doing something right since she now has several gelaterias spread around the city.
Many of her gelato concoctions pair disparate ingredients like tobacco and chocolate. Others are named after fairytale characters like Pinocchio (a vanilla, pear, lemon cake/pecorino melange), Snow White (Tahitian vanilla, apple chunks and raspberry sauce) and Thumbelina (rose petals, violet flowers and Sorrento walnuts).
We didn’t try any of those fanciful flavors nor did we sample tempting treats like sushi gelato and ice cream cake. Instead, we followed Fatamorgana’s path toward simplicity by pairing two gelato flavors – Lemon Curd and Milk Chocolate – in one cup. This seemingly simple yet pure combination of acidic lemon and sweet milk chocolate was divine.
Though our stomachs were stretched to their limits after a pasta session involving plates of Amatraciana and Carbonara pasta, we justified adding a dollop of panna montata. As is common knowledge, whipped cream doesn’t takes up much, if any, stomach space.
3. Gelateria del Teatro
After sharing a cone at Gelateria del Teatro, we agreed to disagree.
Daryl thought that the scoop of Fior di Lavanda e Pesca Bianca (lavender and white peach) was the better scoop. Mindi felt the same about the scoop of Sacher all’Arancia (chocolate and orange).
Well, at least we agreed that these two scoops were among the best we ate in Rome – perhaps the very best.
Gelateria del Teatro might have been new to us but the artisan gelateria isn’t new to Rome. Stefano and Silvia Marcotulli opened their original shop near Piazza Navona in 2006. Their commitment to creating quality gelato starts with focused sourcing and ends inside cones baked with olive oil.
We visited Gelateria del Teatro during a stroll along the River Tiber. How we missed this excellent gelateria during our 2010 visit is an unsolved mystery. We certainly won’t miss it when we visit Rome in the future. In fact, we’re already planning which flavors to sample next.
Order your gelato on a cone at Gelateria del Teatro. Made with olive oil, these cones are a notch above the rest.
Gelateria del Teatro has multiple Rome locations. We visited the gelateria located at Lungotevere dei Vallati, 25, 00186 Roma RM, Italy.
Marco Radicioni’s creativity doesn’t stop with a name that’s literally the reverse spelling of ‘Gelato’. Visitors to his conveniently located Trastevere gelatria experience his whimsy in flavors that simultaneously surprise and delight the senses.
Since we weren’t able to physically enter Otaleg due to the pandemic, we blindly ordered flavors without seeing them displayed in all their glory. Instead of tampering our curiosity for the slate of 30 flavors including 20 creamy options and 10 without milk, the situation inspired us to push our gelato envelope.
Living up to the phrase ‘when in Rome’, we paired a scoop of traditional pistachio ice cream with a more creative scoop with talegeggio cheese, Sichuan peppers and candied orange. We then topped our cone with a dollop of panna montata for good measure.
While not our favorite cone of the week, Otaleg’s gelato may be the most memorable for its bold flavors, unique ingredients and creative combinations. Would we order gelato with tellegio cheese and Sichuan peppers again? Probably not. Will we return to Otaleg? Absolutely.
Consider stepping out of your gelato comfort zone when you eat gelato at Otaleg. You can order chocolate and vanilla flavors back home.
Otaleg is located at Via di S. Cosimato, 14a, 00153 Roma, Italy.
Open in Rome for more than a century, Giolitti has the honor of being both the city’s oldest operating gelateria and the first stop on our Rome gelato tour. Original owners Giuseppe and Bernardina Giolitti launched the business in 1890 and it remains in the Giolitti family all these years later.
Unlike Rome’s more recently opened gelato shops, Giolitti’s decor features a vintage glass counter and plenty of dark wood fixtures. We weren’t disappointed by these old school vibes nor were we disappointed by Giolitti’s simple, pure flavors.
During our autumnal visit, the Giolitti menu offered seasonal flavors like orange and fig as well as classic flavors like almond and pistachio. As equal opportunity gelato eaters, we chose a flavor from each category.
While Cioccolato Fondante (dark chocolate) was as classic as it gets, Sangue di Dracula (Dracula’s Blood – made with plum) was both seasonal and fun.
Sitting at an outside table, we licked our double scoop gelato cone until it was gone. Then, we had the difficult task of choosing our favorite flavor between the two – a decision far more difficult than choosing whether to sit inside or outside.
Was it the smooth fondant that wasn’t overly bitter or was it the chunky plum that wasn’t overly sweet? We couldn’t pick one over the other. The combination of the two was sweet gelato harmony.
Pop over to Giolitti main location after you visit the Pantheon to experience a different aspect of Roman history.
Giolitti has multiple Rome locations. We visited the gelateria located at Via Amerigo Vespucci, 35, 00153 Roma RM, Italy.
6. Gelateria dei Gracchi
Our visit to Gelateria dei Gracchi was inevitable. A Rome tram literally dropped us off in front of one of the gelateria’s locations during our separate quest to find the best specialty coffee in Rome.
Honestly, we might have missed the nondescript storefront if we hadn’t previously added it to our mobile phone map app. This particular gelato break was clearly meant to be.
Ordering gelato at Gelateria dei Gracchi was a sweet challenge due to the preponderance of enticing flavors like Cioccolato Fondente all’Arancia (dark orange chocolate) and Fico d’India (prickly pear).
Once tasted our chosen flavors of Cubano (dark chocolate with rum) and Ricotta e Pere (ricotta cheese and pear), we knew we had navigated Gracchi’s flavors magnificently.
Repurposing a tree stump as a temporary table, we intended to just take a couple bites for research purposes.
Before we knew it, our cup runneth empty. Oops!
Order a granita if you’re in the mood for a cold treat on a hot day. The shop had four flavors – almond, coffee, basil ginger and lemon – on its menu during our visit.
Gelateria dei Gracchi has multiple Rome locations. We visited the gelateria located at Viale Regina Margherita, 212, 00198 Roma RM, Italy.
Frigidarium isn’t as critically acclaimed as the other Rome gelato shops in our Rome gelato guide yet it’s just as popular. But why?
An easy guess is related to Frigidarium’s prime location within easy walking distance to major sites including the Vatican. Another easy guess is Frigidarium’s value pricing. Our two scoop cone cost just €2 at the time of our visit.
However, neither of these features is what we loved most about Frigidarium during our visit. For us, the best part about eating gelato at Frigidarium can be summed up in two words – chocolate dip.
Don’t get us wrong. The vast selection of gelato at Frigidarium is top notch. We especially enjoyed the gelateria’s sour cherry Amarena flavor.
For us, though, the chocolate dip is this gelateria’s tasty game changer. Quickly hardening into a candy shell, it evokes memories of childhood cones eaten at Dairy Queen but at a much higher level. Plus, Frigidarium’s chocolate dip is free upon request. Winning!
Request a chocolate dip when you order your gelato cone or cup at Frigidarium. During our visit, we noticed that we were the only customers savvy enough to make the request. If you don’t like chocolate, you can request sweet cream instead.
Frigidarium is located at Via del Governo Vecchio, 112, 00186 Roma, Italy.
Claudio Torcè has become a Rome gelato icon since he opened his first Rome gelato shop in 2003. Over the years, the gelato master has trained many of Rome’s best gelato makers including Maria Spagnuolo (Fatamorgana Gelato) and Marco Radicioni (Otaleg).
The grandson of a Roman baker, Torcè sources ingredients from around the world to create gelato flavors that skew sweet, salty and savory. During our visit, available flavors ranged from the simple (Easy Chocolate) to the sublime (Chocolate with Himalayan Pink Salt) with a detours to the garden (Celery Cream) and cheese shop (Gorgonzola).
Luckily for Roman locals and food travelers with a penchant for tasty treats, Torcè’s gelato is as spoon worthy as any other gelato in the city and more so than most.
As we discovered while visiting his gelato shop near the Colosseum, Torcè serves some of the most interesting gelato in town.
Choosing from a case filled with multiple chocolate gelato flavors, we diverted from the ordinary by choosing the one with Himalayan pink salt and then topped that scoop with sweet Cassata (Sicilian cake with dried fruit and liqueur) gelato.
This globally-inspired combination with salty crystals and candied chunks thrilled us. We greedily licked it until the cone was just a sticky yet sweet memory.
Leave your guilt behind when you eat gelato at Torcè. The innovative gelateria uses fructose and lactose-free milk in its recipes. Gluten-free cones are also available.
Torcè has multiple Rome locations. We visited the gelateria located at Viale Aventino, 59, 00153 Roma RM, Italy.
Additional Rome Gelato Shops
Our favorite eight gelato shops will satisfy most food travelers who venture to Rome. If you’re truly gelato-obsessed or visiting Rome for an extended time, you should also try one or more of these popular Rome gelato shops:
Plan Your Rome Stay
Some gelaterias may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.