Everyone has their favorite gelaterie in Rome; these are mine. All of them sit within the center of Rome, where I did most of my wandering during my month there. This list is current as of July 2012, meaning I haven’t been to anywhere that opened since. If your favorite gelateria isn’t mentioned, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to try it during my next visit to Rome! (Pardon the watermark accident I had…)
I visited Gelateria Fatamorgana during my last night in Rome. It really was the perfect closing moment for my trip. The gelato flavors are unique and flavorful, and they offer several exotic variations of pistachio (one of my favorite flavors). I selected the basil with honey and walnuts and the Syrian pistachio. The gelato was amazing, especially when paired with the piazzetta outside and Monti’s glowing street lamps. If you’re near the Colosseo, stop by this gelateria as it’s only a short walk away. The bars near Fatamorgana are also worth visiting.
Several locals recommended Corona to me—a gelateria located at Largo Argentina across the street from the Cat Sanctuary—but it took a Vatican scientist to finally get me to go. She raved about it, and so we came here despite the fact that it was raining. I’ve since brought other friends to Corona, and I’m consistently impressed with their friendly service and non-existant lines. (I also really like the cookie they put on top.) Order the risotto with lemon and the chocolate with plums and rhum, then head across the street and watch the kittens frolic in the ruins.
I know this is a huge tourist draw (it’s probably the most crowded and sought-after gelateria in Rome), and I know that Giolitti has a quieter Testaccio location as well, but there’s something about the bustle and fun decor that makes me love its Centro Storico branch. It also helps that the gelato is pretty damn good. Like most gelaterie, Giolitti opens late. A midnight trip here is where the magic really occurs, sitting with other gelato lovers along the cobblestone street under the stars.
Sure, Grom is a chain with locations worldwide, but it’s still a great gelateria. The flavors are good, the consistency is nice and they use only natural ingredients (though, to be fair, all true gelato artigianale places do). Try any of their house specialities, such as the “Crema come una volta,” an egg-based gelato like grandma apparently used to make. This particular location is great because it sits in the northeastern corner of Piazza Navona, Rome’s grandest and most beautiful square. Grab a cup or cone and lounge by the fountain. There’s simply no better place in Rome to enjoy gelato.
RivaReno is a chain from Bologna that I haven’t heard much of from my friends in Rome. Its location is definitely better suited to those living in the San Giovanni area. What I love most about RivaReno are their solid flavors, the ever-friendly service and the sleek interior. If you’re looking for old world charm, this isn’t the spot for you. It’s clean, modern and bright. If you’re visiting the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano or shopping for deals at Via Sannio, definitely stop in to this great gelato shop for a treat.
And because I know you’ll ask, I also visited the gelaterie below. All of them are good, but they didn’t make my top five for the following reasons:
Gelato di San Crispino (Centro Storico/Fontana di Trevi) – Overpriced and mediocre service, consistently, from all the locations I visited.
Giolitti (Testaccio) – Loved the service and lack of a wait, but there are fewer flavors at this location and I didn’t want to include Giolitti twice.
Old Bridge Gelateria (Prati) – Really long lines, even in the rain, though the gelato is good.
Palazzo del Freddo di Giovanni Fassi (Esquilino) – Not a fan of the cafeteria environment and there are lots of people, but the riso is pretty damn good.
Gelateria dei Gracchi (Prati) – Liked this neighborhood gelateria a lot. Would have to try it again.