Every now and again I get obsessed with certain subjects. A regularly recurring one is gelato. Over the past few months of intensive gelato research, I reached some conclusions about the state of gelato in Italy, Rome in particular. I know this is an unpopular stance, but I maintain that most of the gelato in Rome is simply awful. Sure, the gelato here is better than the average in most places in the world, but there really has been a dramatic and tangible decline in quality in the past decade. For that reason, it is all the more crucial to praise and support those who make natural, artisanal products. In the past 5 years or so, a number of outstanding artisans dedicated to quality have joined the fray.
Definitions of exceptional gelato are highly subjective, but mine is best described as “natural”, that is, lacking in artificial colors, flavors, dextrose, and chemical stabilizers. Like the words “artigianale” and “produzione propria”, the word “naturale” isn’t really legally defined, can be quite misleading, and is often employed for marketing purposes. That means the consumer has to work hard to figure out what she is really eating. I’ve done careful research and here’s a round-up of some gelaterias in Rome serving exceptional all-natural gelato made from high quality ingredients.
Gori: I first read about this place last year on Tavole Romane, but I didn’t visit until recently. I will never forgive myself for waiting so long. The gelato is made in the all-natural style of Claudio Torcè (the Goris are part of a small but growing number of his disciples), the flavors are clean and creative, and the service is patient and enthusiastic. Gori is in northern Rome, but is very easy to get to from Termini on the 84 or 90 buses. Piazza Menenio Agrippa 8b/8c; website.
Fior di Luna: This top-notch gelateria in Trastevere serves exceptional and intense fruit flavors, many made with ingredients cultivated in Lazio. The creamy flavors employ local organic milk and the chocolate comes from fair trade sources. Via della Lungaretta 96; website; closed Monday.
Neve di Latte: In the short time it has been open, Neve di Latte has already gotten tons of press from Italian food blogs (Pasto Nudo, Senza Panna, and Scatti di Gusto, to name a few). It is the newest project of gelataio Ermanno di Pomponio, who has been in the business for decades and closed the much-loved Il Mio Gelato Naturale in November. The ingredients are maniacally sourced (the milk comes from a biodynamic producer in Germany, the eggs are from Paolo Parisi, the chocolate is Amedei) and di Pomponio’s gelato is creamy and intense, with a consistency verging on lightness. Via Luigi Poletti 6; closed Tuesday.
Gelateria Fatamorgana: Creative, whimsical flavors abound at gelataia Maria Agnese Spagnuolo’s two locations. Flavors feature surprising combos like pear and gorgonzola, chocolate and tobacco, black rice and rose petals. Via di Lago Lesina 9/11; Via Bettolo 7; website.
Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè: Last but not least, one of the pioneers of the natural gelato movement provides gelato to seven outposts throughout Rome and Ostia. His natural approach to gelato production has influenced the styles of Fatamorgana, Gori, and others. Viale dell’Aeronautica, 105; Viale Aventino, 59; Piazza Monte d’Oro, 91-92; Via Stoccolma, 7; Viale Prassilla, 39 (Casal Palocco); Viale delle Repubbliche Marinare, 101 (Ostia); Centro Commerciale Roma Est (Lunghezza); website.