How to Spot Good Gelato
Save money on a food tour and head to Gelateria del Viale instead
I’m about to save you so much money. Want to hear the one thing that every single food tour guide of Rome will tell you?
The best way to choose a gelateria is by looking at how they display their gelato. Some Italian gelaterias, especially ones nearby big monuments, pile their gelato high in colorful, gaudy piles of frozen madness. These places might even adorn their mounds of gelato with fruit or cookies to jazz things up further. The food guides all agree: you should not trust a place that needs to act out to attract customers.
Good gelato shouldn’t need to rely on food dyes to look appetizing. Gelato made with care simply can’t exist at a place with 150 flavors on display. Plus, fresh gelato made with good quality ingredients can’t stand up all on its own: it’s too soft! If you see a gelateria with all their goods hidden away in vats with silver lids, that’s a surefire sign that they are creating traditional gelato of high quality.
Gelateria del Viale (Piazza G.G. Belli, 9F) offers exactly that. Open since 1985, this place understands and adheres to gelato-making tradition. The gelato is soft and creamy, with an amazing weight to it. The best flavor that I’ve had is probably the Zabaione, which takes its flavor from a classic Italian dessert made with egg custard and sweet Marsala wine. I also love this gelateria’s fondente, or dark chocolate — despite the fact that it’s dairy-free, it’s so smooth and delicate that it seems impossible there’s no cream in there. Make sure not to skip getting panna, a lighter, less-sugary version of whipped cream, on top: it’s so light that it cuts through the thickness of the gelato and provides a lovely contrast.
My favorite thing about this place is that there’s none of that Fatamorgana-esque hype about Gelateria del Viale. This might just be because no one can find it; the storefront is so humble and covered in graffiti that when I tried to return to this gelateria a second time, I walked right past it. This feels like one of the last as-of-yet undiscovered gems in Rome: it’s quiet, sweet, and unassuming.
If you learn one thing here, it should be not to trust a flashy gelateria. Instead, stick with places like Gelateria del Viale, where the thing that keeps customers coming back year after year is the quality, not the aesthetic.