Gelateria San Crispino
This is the sixth post in the Spontaneous Weekend Trip to Rome Series. Other posts in this series include: Dal Paino Pizzeria in Rome, Etabli, Il Convivio,Ciuri Ciuri Pasticceria Gelateria Siciliana, and Sant'Eustachio Il Caffe
The word is almost synonymous with Italy. Virtually every person who gave me advice about Italy told me to definitely eat lots of gelato. Seems like it wasn't unusual for my traveling friends to get multiple scoops of gelato a day while in Italy!
Italians are obsessed with their gelato. Italy is the only country in the world where the market share for handmade gelato outnumbers that of industrial gelato. This is why gelato is so good in Italy. Virtually every shop you see is handmaking their own artisanal version of the stuff.
For some reason, many of the best gelato shops seem to be concentrated around the Pantheon, which is great for tourists since the Pantheon itself is definitely a must-visit, and is conveniently located near many other sites.
Alas since I only had a weekend in Rome (and I was already eating so much other stuff), I only managed to fit in three gelato places. Yes, I know, weak right? Most people are eating 2-3 gelatos a day!
So, even though it's nowhere near a comprehensive review of the best gelato places, I did manage to hit at least one supposed "must-try" as well as a couple other fun ones.
Tres Scalini is a gelato shop in Piazza Navona that boasts being the inventor of the luscious chocolate dessert, tartufo, a ball of rich, dark chocolate gelato accompanied with dark chocolate pieces and a cherry in the center. The shopkeeper gave me a sample of the dark chocolate gelato to try, which was mind-blowingly good. It was intensely dark, rich, and easily the best chocolate gelato I'd ever had.
Alas we stopped by here right after a crazy huge meal, so I did not think I could fit an entire tartufo in my stomach (yes, I know, weak!). Instead, I ordered a scoop of their yogurt flavored gelato, (seemingly much lighter) which was quite good, though it was nothing compared to the dark chocolate tartufo gelato.
Definitely order the tartufo if you come here here (or at least the deep chocolate gelato that they use to make it!).
Piazza Navona has several gelato shops, and we tried the one right next door to Tres Scalini our first full day in Rome. Unfortunately I did not write down the name of the place (does anyone know?), but I believe it was to the left of Tres Scalini in Piazza Navona.
Anyway, the owner at this place was passionate about his gelato, telling customers (in English) that he used the finest ingredients and you wouldn't find a better gelato around.
I do agree that I liked the texture of the gelato here better than the yogurt gelato at Tres Scalini, which I found just a tad chalky for some odd reason.
If you want to save money, order the gelato at the counter and just walk around the square with it. It will cost you about 2.5 Euros for that. Getting the same product via table service at one of outside seats will cost you about double (although then you have guaranteed seating in Piazza Navona, which is also pretty valuable - so perhaps it's a toss up?)
In any event, definitely spend at least a little time in Piazza Navona to people-watch while feasting on dessert.
If you just do a tiny bit of research, you will soon see Il Gelato di San Crispino pops up over and over again as people's favorite gelateria in Rome. They use high quality ingredients, make the gelato in small batches, and serve up intensely authentic flavors.
They are sort of food Nazis, only offering gelato in cups (I guess cones interfere with the enjoyment of the pure gelato?), and refusing to mix certain flavors if they think the flavors don't go well together. Unlike the friendly shopkeepers in Piazza Navona who happily handed out samples and spoke to customers about their gelato, the sole shopkeeper at San Crispino was reserved and mute, silently handing me my cup of gelato before shutting down the store.
It's quite expensive too. My tiny, tiny little micro cup of gelato (about ¼ the size of the "smalls" at other places) cost me a pretty three Euros.
Although I only tried one flavor, I agreed that it was the best of the bunch. The flavor is clean, pure, and very real.
We stopped by here just shy of midnight on our walk back (in the rain!) from the Trastevere area. I was lucky to catch the gelateria before it closed.
I would definitely come back again to try more flavors, as I've heard their fruit-flavored gelato are absolutely fantastic. Just keep in mind you are paying for quality, not quantity here.
Bottom line - you won't get better gelato anywhere else in the world, so definitely, definitely try as many as you can while you're in Rome. You probably can't go too wrong no matter where you go, but I think it's worth at least doing some research and trying a few really good places.
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