Rome, the Eternal City, rightly has a reputation as being a foodie mecca. Despite it’s growing international food scene, the heart (or stomach?!) of food in Rome still lies in its world-renowned pizzerias, trattorias and gelaterias.
I have been lucky enough to visit Rome twice (throwing coins over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain must work!) and both times I have made it a personal mission to taste test as much gelato as I could get my hands on.
Yes, despite it being winter on both occasions I ensured I had at least one gelato a day (proving that not all heroes wear capes!), and in my quest for the best gelato, sampled a large array of flavours, in both cups and cones, coloured and flavoured naturally and not-so-naturally, and made using traditional and modern techniques. Along with my sister, we researched where the gelato hotspots were throughout Rome and tried to ‘do as the Romans do’ and sample gelaterias where the locals congregated.
After all of this *rigorous* experimentation, I can say with some (questionable) authority that I have found the best gelato in Rome. So, without further ado, I present to you my top 3 gelaterias in Rome.
Number 3: il Gelato di San Crispino
The most traditional of my top 3, San Crispino (which conveniently has 2 shops located in the historical centre of Rome), takes its gelato very seriously and prides itself on using high quality, seasonal ingredients and not using artificial colourings, preservatives or chemical emulsifiers.
San Crispino was recommended to us by our Rome walking tour guide and has many certificates of excellence (and long queues at times). After sampling the gelato, I can see why.
Don’t be put off by the rather uninviting decor and not being able to see any gelato upon entering; each flavour is kept in a stainless steel bin with a lid on it so that it is kept at the optimum serving temperature (between -8 and -10°C).
There are fewer flavours here than in many gelaterias as San Crispino strives for quality, not quantity. The flavours that are on offer change regularly with the seasons, but be sure to try their famous Sardinian honey gelato – it’s delicious. Dairy free sorbets and ‘meringue ice creams’ are also available.
Locations: Via Acaia, 56, 00183 Roma, Italia (tel. 0670450412)
Piazza della Maddalena 3 – 00186 Roma (tel. 0697601190)
Price: From €2.70
Rating: 4.5/5 cupcakes
Top tip: don’t make the mistake of ordering your gelato in a cone, as the ‘gelato craftsmen’ believe this interferes with the flavours of the gelato and only serve it in cups.
Number 2: Gelateria Valentino
In second place is Gelateria Valentino. In stark contrast to San Crispino, Gelateria Valentino is a brightly coloured feast for the eyes with its rainbow-coloured gelato proudly on display. While still boasting a wide range of natural, seasonal flavours, Valentino also offers some “less natural” varieties (think pretty green mint gelato) and certainly has no qualms about cones – you even get an adorable mini cone when you order your gelato in a cup!
My sister was the mastermind who brought us to Gelateria Valentino after reading up reviews on TripAdvisor, many of which confidently declare that it has the best gelato in Rome. With its proximity to the Trevi Fountain, more than 3,600 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor (ranked as #4 for dessert locations in Rome), and huge selection of tempting flavours, it’s not hard to see why Gelateria Valentino does a roaring trade even in the middle of winter.
Our family favourite flavours were: raspberry, Baci, dark chocolate and tiramisu.
Location: Via del Lavatore 96, 00187 Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 06 678 3219
Price: From €2.50
Rating: 4.5/5 cupcakes
Top tip: Gelateria Valentino doesn’t accept credit cards so make sure you have cash on you.
Number 1: La Gelateria Frigidarium
In first place is La Gelateria Frigidarium, located near Piazza Navona. Like Gelateria Valentino it is a TripAdvisor award winner with over 3,100 5-star reviews, and it was always buzzing with happy customers, day or night.
Frigidarium has an extraordinary array of mouthwatering flavours on display and you can enjoy your gelato in a cup or cone, and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, have it coated in chocolate!
For me there were several factors that set it apart from its competition. Firstly, the quality was second-to-none. Every flavour I had the pleasure of sampling was rich and creamy without any hint of graininess.
Secondly, everything is generous; the friendly staff were more than happy to let people sample flavours before deciding, the scoops were large and filled the cup or cone to the brim (regardless of what size you ordered), and every variety was packed full of flavour and contained a generous helping of ‘fun bits’ e.g. fresh fruit, cookie chunks or chocolate bar pieces, depending on your chosen flavour.
Finally, what really clinched it the top spot, is its incredible value for money. For just €2 you can enjoy a small cup filled to the brim with 2 flavours of gelato – less than half the price you will pay in most other gelaterias. The price of a large cup at Frigidarium is on par with what many places charge for a small!
Those factors, and our desire to sample as many flavours as possible, were what had us coming back to La Gelateria Frigidarium time and time again.
Our picks? You really can’t go wrong! Every flavour we tried was exceptional.
Location: Via del Governo Vecchio 112, 00186 Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 334 995 1184
Price: From €2
Rating: 5/5 cupcakes
Top tip: Visit here first, otherwise the thought of all the Frigidarium gelato you could have been enjoying will haunt you until your dying day.
Well, there you have it folks, my top 3 gelaterias in Rome. Chasing any one of them will guarantee you an excellent gelato.
Let me know, do you agree with me? Disagree? Have you found an amazing top-secret Roman gelateria I should visit on my next trip? Please comment below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂