Gelateria la Romana: How to Eat Ice Cream in Italy
To call gelato, ice cream, is like calling a diamond, cubic zirconia. It looks the same, but one is clearly an imitator. And a poor one at that. Ask anyone who’s had the grand privilege of slurping up a creamy gelato on a hot summer day in Italy, and they’ll tell you the same.
I can’t say that I’ve tried gelato from every single shop in Italy (despite my best efforts) but make no mistake about it, all gelati are not created equal. It seems sacrilegious to even think it, but I’ve even had some truly bad gelato in the Beautiful Country. *Shudder.
Mostly though, an average cone in Italy will put North America’s best to shame. Which is good or bad, I guess. Depending on where you live.
And then there are the scoops that are so beyond the realm of what we call mere “ice cream,” that they can only be described as heavenly.
Which brings me to the Gelateria la Romana.
The first thing I noticed about this place was the never-ending lines of mostly Romans, that snaked out of the door and onto the road, at all times of the night and day. The lines were constant and unbroken, in a way that was frankly, a bit surreal.
When we realized that all these locals were standing in line for gelato, boy oh boy, we joined that line just as fast as we could. And were rewarded with the most exquisite scoop of creamy goodness I’ve ever tasted.
HOW TO ORDER GELATO IN ITALY
At a gelato shop like La Romana, getting your ice cream fix can feel like fighting for a bartender’s attention in the hottest nightclub in town, but the process is actually quite streamlined. You simply line up at the cash, order your gelato (size or number of scoops), and then take your receipt to the gelato bar. You tell the gelataio whether you’d like a coppa (cup) or cono (cone), and which flavours you’d like. Typically, the smallest size (piccolo) costs around 2 euros and includes 2 different gusti (flavours).
If it’s your first time trying gelato (lucky you), I’d start with a few tried and true classics, before moving onto some of the more interesting choices.
For a nutty gelato, you can’t go wrong with a Pesto di Pistacchio or Pesto di Nocciola Trilobata (hazelnut). I always have at least ONE of these on every gelato I eat. For a fruity gelato, try the Croccante all’Amarena, which is comprised of whole black cherries mixed with crunchy bits of hazelnut, meringue and chocolate. And finally, for a classic combo, go for the Stracciatella Grand Cru. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s simplicity makes it boring. It’s anything but vanilla.
CUP OR CONE? TO PANNA OR NOT TO PANNA?
Much to Agri’s horror, I always choose a cup when ordering my gelato, because it melts much faster than I can eat it. What can I say, I don’t devour 2 huge scoops of gelato in 2 bites, like someone else we know (not mentioning any names). And seriously, what a waste of good gelato.
Gelateria la Romana though is the ONLY place where I’ll choose a cone, and risk all that gooeyness dripping down my fingers and arms. Simply because when you choose a cone, it comes coated on the inside with either pistachio, dark chocolate or white chocolate.
To make your decision even more complicated, you can also choose from a number of different panna, (whip creams) to top your gelato with, including regular, zambione or chocolate.
GELATERIA LA ROMANA
Established in 1947, in the historic centre of Rimini, La Romana was named after the founder’s daughter, and offers gelati that are created using traditional recipes and high quality ingredients like organic milk, fresh cream and seasonal fruit.
We visited the Via Venti Settembre 60 location in Rome almost every day but there are La Romana shops all over Italy, in Spain, and even in a few cities in Germany.
Have you tasted gelato in Italy? Do you have a favourite shop? What’s your favourite flavour?
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