Okay, these final 5 wrap up the entrants in the gelato derby. Finally.
L’Impero del Gelato
Gelateria del Teatro
Antica Caffe di Teatro Marcello
San Crispino. via della Panetteria, 42. The press darling, San Crispino was, indeed, lovely. The gelato had a wonderful texture, and flavor was intense and lovely. But. Do you think maybe their gelato evangelism has gone a little too far? I do. No panna (whipped cream)? No cones? No coffee or flavors (no matter how crowd-pleasing) that don’t meet the standards of the owners? Seriously, WTF? Gelato is, of course, delicious, and quality ingredients and preparation make for a better gelato. Bla, bla, foodie seriousness, bla. But gelato is also fun. It's eaten for pleasure. And panna and cones? Part of the fun, even if I do need to stick Curly, headfirst, under the Roman water fountains after she has a cone instead of a cup. The little metal covers over the gelato flavors? Cute, and sorta classy. But fanaticism, in gelato as in many other things, detracts.
Mariotti. Mariotti is one of a couple of gelateria at the top of the road that leads out of piazza Navona. It was, for us, a port in a storm; I had neglected to check what time San’Agostino (where there is a nice Caravaggio) closes for lunch, and it was earlier than I had expected. So there were four children, kicking the ground a bit, and, well bribing them back to cooperative seemed like a bright idea, so I got my sister to buy them all gelato (I’m classy that way. K-k-k-classy). The gelato was better than I would have expected; my boy was deeply disappointed with the crema, because it had been infused with orange, which gave it a creamsicle quality that he hated. On the plus side, my sister and one of my nephews adored that same quality, and it turned out my boy loved the chocolate vanilla swirl. All was well. Mariotti was better than Blue Ice, and better than expected, but their prices struck me as a bit high, which, given its location, is not too surprising. At the same time, for a port in a storm, it was surprisingly decent.
L’Impero del Gelato. Via dei Pettinari, 43. This was another name the kids were wild for. The Empire of Gelato. It was right near the Ponte Sisto (a pedestrian bridge), which meant that we could loiter and admire the view of St. Peter’s dome without worry of being run over by anything more than a bicycle, or breathing too many fumes. The gelateria was strong, in a field full of strong gelaterie. Did I mention that the kids were wild about the name? It’s also conveniently near the Palazzo Spada, if you were hoping to stand in the courtyard and look through the library at Borromini’s perspective gallery and then go have yourself a gelato. In a cone. With panna.
Gelateria del Teatro. Via di S. Simeone, 70. This is just off of via dei Coronari, which means you can have a cheap gelato and browse pricey antiques (7,000 Euro marble and broze candy bowl, anyone? 19th century?). If I translated correctly from what one of the owners told me, they’ve been open 2 years. We worked our way dutifully through around 14 of their flavors, and didn’t find a weak spot. The strawberry was, by far, the best we had anywhere. The ginger (zenzero) was remarkable, and… well, I can’t explain why I tried it, but I don’t usually like ginger ice cream or gelato. They had many kinds of chocolate, all of which were lovely. The pistachio, we were told, was superb (my dad was the sole sampler there). I caved and had a taste of the ricotta, fig and almond, which I will be attempting to make this summer. Or sooner. Sorry, Curly. Their arancia, limone and crema were wonderful frozen essences of the fruits, and their crema spoke to the perfect simplicity that the flavor can reach. They’re great. I’m still curious, though, how it made it into guidebooks so quickly. Many guidebooks hadn’t bothered updating the fact that the venerable Pelacchia non c’e piu, and mostly, when it comes to gelaterie, seem to coast by on stand-bys.
Antico Caffe di Teatro Marcello. This is, as one would expect, almost immediately next to the Teatro Marcello, facing the Capitoline. The children insisted that it be included, and, in fact, gave it an astronomically high rating. I am going to step in with my opinion. My children and nephews were snockered by the fact that this place 1) had a location in which one could plunk down and contemplate the utter cool-ness of Teatro Marcello, 2) had a delicious tiramisu, which really tasted nothing like tiramisu but a particularly rich and decadent fudge ripple. Their other gelati didn’t suck, but weren’t going to kick anyone’s ass. On the other hand, they had cones. And panna.
And that’s it, until I release the probably not very surprising rankings... soon. In other news, it will not come as a surprise that in an effort for my pants to be less hostile to my butt, the treadmill and I are now spending extra quality time together. I am not particularly perturbed that I stress-ate and gelato-toured myself into some extra suet (dude. It happens. Car accidents, achilles tendon ruptures, child in ER in agony getting morphine... well, a couple of pounds of suet is cheaper to work off than a massive therapy bill), but it’s high time for that suet and I to part ways. I will probably continue to anxiety bake for the kids (husband + percocet = me, up a tree, twitching), but as I said, it’s time for the suet to go away. If I buy new pants, I want it to be because I like them, not because I’ve popped the seams on all the ones I have.