Joy of Rome

What’s Gelato, Anyway? And Can You Enjoy it in the Winter?

Summer isn’t the only season for this chilled treat.

Even under the crisp influence of winter, Roman gelato is delectable as ever.

Before singing gelato’s praises however, let’s take a moment to summarise its properties.

Its simplest translation into English is ‘ice cream’, and while it’s commonly used interchangeably with its Anglo-American relative, there are in fact variations between these types of frigid food.

Gelato is crafted with more milk than cream, and as a result it contains a lower fat content. It also has a small ‘overrun’ (note the use of the fancy industry term), which is the amount of air whipped into it to increase its volume.

American-style ice creams are churned at high speeds, allowing generous amounts of air to be pulled into them; commercial products can have an overrun of up to 90%.

The churning process for gelato happens at a more sedate, comparatively leisurely pace. With a lower overrun than ice cream, it is characteristically denser and silkier. Due to the reduced amounts of fat barricading the tongue, its taste is more intense.

Lastly, gelato differs from ice cream in that it’s served at a slightly higher temperature, rewarding the mouth with a velvety consistency.

The same qualities that distinguish gelato from ice cream are also the same elements that delight patrons throughout the year, including winter.

Its lower fat percentage, smoother texture, and clean taste make it a versatile delight. It has the ability to convey flavors from the rich and authoritative muskiness of chocolate, to the lighter sweetness of strawberry. All the while, it avoids being too heavy on the palate (and stomach).

Regardless of the season, it’s an optimal indulgence.

Natives and visitors in Rome can take pleasure in gelato under the warm tendrils of sunshine, or cozied up in a comforting scarf. Since it’s served all year round, there’s no excuse for avoiding tucking into a favorite flavor, or experimenting with the artisanal offerings that makes Roman gelato globally renowned. Here are a few of the local artisans you should have a taste of while in Rome.

Fatamorgana – rethinking flavours

Master gelato maker, Maria Agnese Spagnuolo’s genius is in using the best ingredients Italy has to offer and combining them in original (and tasty!) ways – like lavender and camomile, pear and gorgonzola or one of our favourites, crema zenzero, miele di castagna e limone (ginger, chestnut flower honey and lemon). If you’re a chocaholic they have at least 6 different kinds including chocolate infused with Kentucky whisky, or rosemary or wasabi! Don’t worry if you’re not sure which flavour to choose, they are happy to give you a little taste of anything you’re curious to try. Their flavours are seasonal and they also have wheat, dairy, sugar and egg free options and fruit sorbet so almost everyone can have a taste of their handicrafts.

Grezzo – sweet, raw and vegan

If you’re vegan or love raw food then master raw chef, Vito Cortese’s Grezzo in Monti is the place for you. The gelati are all based on a blend of house-made nut milks and all the ingredients are certified organic. They make only a few flavours at time and have a “less is more” philosophy so that you can taste the fresh, pure goodness of their craft. If gelato isn’t your favourite sweet treat they also have raw chocolate and beautifully made raw, vegan cakes.

Come il Latte – freshly made decadence

A short walk from Termini Station is Nicoletta Chiacchiari’s Come il Latte with its magical fountains of dark and white chocolate. Your first task is to pick which liquid chocolate you want your cone filled and then move on to the blackboard menu to choose the flavours. The blackboard makes it easier for these artisans to add to the list of fresh, seasonal and changing flavours. Need a little more indulgence? Top your gelato with a dollop of panna (whipped cream) in zabaglione (marsala wine flavoured), nocciole (toasted hazelnuts), or vaniglia and a wafer dipped in chocolate!

Salivating yet? Ready to get the inside scoop on the best gelaterie in town? Then join Joy of Rome on its ‘Ice cream – Behind the Scenes’ Tour.