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I Gemelli Gelateria

11 Jun

These days, there are basically only two things left that could motivate me to write a new post: the death of a pope, or discovering a fantastic new gelateria.

Given that Francis is thankfully alive and well, let’s celebrate the latter today as I introduce you to I Gemelli Gelateria — a.k.a., “The Twins.”

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N.B. – My darling 7-year-old daughter took all the photos in this post. That’s why you’ll notice the general height perspective is around four feet tall and some images are blurry.

So, I Gemelli opened in March, but I only became aware of it recently (yes I am basically a hermit mom who types on her keyboard to earn a living in-between taking children to and from school). The reason I noticed is because they had the telltale this is an awesome gelateria crowd hanging around outside the front door. Trust this, especially when you aren’t in the center of Rome where crowds will hang around any old place, including joints that scoop out swill like Blue Ice.

But no, my neighborhood is far removed from the tourist track, and thus, let the locals be the judge of whether gelato is truly worthy or not.

New gelaterie open in my neighborhood about never, because we’re a residential ‘hood with many established businesses that don’t change hands. It’s a beautiful thing, really. But at the same time, it’s all the more special and curious when a new place does hang out its shingle.

I Gemelli is right around the corner from I Mannari, a place I lovingly wrote about five years ago. I still adore Giuseppe and his incredible gelato, but I rarely make it to his shop anymore. If you step in a bit closer I’ll whisper to you the reason why, from behind a cupped hand: my kids fell for another place on the other side of the neighborhood where all their friends go and where they can get—wait for it—sprinkles. These, I learned, are referred to by the gelato ladies as zuccherini (they are those little multi-colored ball sprinkles) and you’d think they were g.d. panned gold or something. Just try and tear my kids away from the shop that offers zuccherini. Not gonna happen. That is, until now.

I’ve been to I Gemelli twice. The first time I went was when we saw it was open and decided we’d put it to the test. “We know what good gelato tastes like” declare my children and I. Step aside, people, and let us through to determine whether this joint deserves a crowd milling about out front. [Yes, we’re quite humble about our tasting abilities, as you can see.]

On that first visit, my kids gave it the big two thumbs up, but really, isn’t it mom’s opinion that matters the most? (Who’s paying?) The verdict was in: I was basically over the moon because they had a flavor they call dolce salato (salty sweet) and can I just tell you what it tastes like? Um, like a whole lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup-ness in Italian gelato format, that’s what. It had whole peanuts and swirls of swirly chocolate. In a word? Divine. I’m telling you.

They change their non-classic (read: dolce salato and other eccentricities) flavors often, and the second time I went back, zenzero cannella had taken its place. Cinnamon ginger (or ginger cinnamon, if you like). Um, yes, please. It tasted like a mix between Dutch speculaas cookies and gingerbread houses and it was to die for. SO good.

This all got me to wondering: who in the world are the twins, anyway?

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Here they are in a photo with mom. Simply killing us with cuteness amirite?!

Turns out that these two lovely boys come from a family with a long history of gelato tradition. Their grandfathers made gelato in Emilia-Romagna starting 60 years ago, and their uncles actually teach at the MEC3 International School of Gelato in Rimini that trains professional gelatai (gelato makers). Not too shabby as far as street cred goes.

Hey, want to hear one of those insider tips people always told me about how to spot awesome gelato? This:

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From my daughter’s vantage point. Remember, you’re seven.

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I nabbed this pro shot from their Facebook page because—look how great.

That’s right, folks. It’s the gelato you can’t see. It’s the gelato that’s hidden away in silver tubs with lids. They call them pozzetti, apparently. Old school, yes. There are only two other places in Rome that immediately come to mind that have gelato like this. One: identified by my ex-husband back in the day simply as la gelateria zozza (the filthy gelato shop – and that was a compliment) – it’s that bar over in Piazza San Calisto in Trastevere where all the drunks and punks with dogs hang out front. (OMG wait – I actually wrote a post about this place TEN YEARS AGO.) They have like three or four flavors, incredible panna, and the man who scoops it out is wicked fast. The other place is Carapina, which apparently because I am so updated (I literally make it downtown perhaps 10 times a year max, nowadays) no longer exists in Rome. Mah. It was good, but not as good as I Gemelli.

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Can I just tell you that today at the register after ordering for three drooling kiddos I opened my wallet and realized I had exactly ZERO cash, but mom told me I could bring it by “next time” because she remembered me from my first visit? Swoon. I was back within the hour and enjoying my own cone.

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I’d love to say I was going for some sort of artsy visual here, but alas, this is still my daughter and what it looks like from down there at four feet plus an inch or two. But that there is MY cone, people. To die for.

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I actually think my daughter was going for art on this one. Super cute cones in jar.

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It’s not just a marketing gimmick! They’re the real deal! Excuse the blur but…

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Another from their FB page. Could you just die from the adorableness? Oh, and BTW, that thar is a ginormous Sicilian brioche with gelato. Because you KNOW the Sicilians aren’t messing around. They eat ice cream for breakfast and you better not say anything about it.

But don’t take it from me, folks. Have a look at their pretty much across the board amazing reviews on Facebook (5.0), Trip Advisor (4.7), and Google (4.9). Apparently no reviews yet on Yelp.it so perhaps I’ll get them started there. Haven’t written a review on my Yelp account in years!

They also have an Instagram account so you can pretend your smartphone is a gelato and lick your screen if you feel so inclined.

My advice? Get thee to The Twins if and when you want to venture off the beaten path. And if, God forbid, you have to convince a travel partner that it’s a worthy touristy thing because you’re on a whirlwind Rome tour and have limited time, then just tell them you’re going to EUR to see the square Colosseum and other Fascist-era architecture, or the Fuksas Cloud, or the recently reopened after about a bazillion years Luneur Park, or the pool, or the prehistoric museum.

Or, you could just tell them you’re going to have a damn good gelato and ain’t nobody gonna stand in your way.

Good times, yes?

I Gemelli Gelateria
Via Mario Musco 44/46

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White Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn Gelato

21 Oct

That’s all. Just wanted to create an entire post to express my ongoing appreciation of Gelateria Corona at Largo Argentina.

Dear Corona, you continue to surprise and delight me. White chocolate and pink peppercorn are certainly two flavors I would never DREAM of trying to attempt to send on a blind date. And yet, I was feeling adventurous. I went for it.

Not bad. I don’t think I’d go there again, because the pepper was a bit overpowering and the white chocolate really faded into the background…and yet. It was definitely worthwhile!

Kind of like a quick fling. You might not ever go back for seconds, but you’ll always have the exciting memory.

Others talking about Corona (and NOT the Fabrizio kind, mind you)

Parla Food (maybe in 2009 they were jerks but they’ve always been super friendly, smiley and chatty with me and others I’ve seen getting gelato there)
Google Plus
Trip Advisor
Yelp

I Heart Gelateria I Mannari

5 Apr

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Baci from Alessandra, one of the super sweet scoopers at I Mannari.

Here’s a gelato shop in my neighborhood, Poggio Ameno.

No one knows where the hell Poggio Ameno is.

It is NOT, as commonly believed, on Mars.

No. It is near another neighborhood which is *slightly* more well-known, called La Montagnola.

If you don’t know where either of those are, then all I can say is that it’s before EUR, on the 30 Express line, just past the ex-Fiera di Roma, across from Garbatella.

And if you still don’t know where it is, then I cannot be of further assistance.

In any case, I Mannari merits a visit. I’m not kidding. It’s worth the trip.

Since it’s my neighborhood gelato shop, and since, as you can tell from the above description, my neighborhood isn’t exactly Piazza Navona, I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t expecting, for example, Gelato Fantasia or anything. But I was wrong to have had such low expectations.

Very, very wrong.

The shop has recently undergone a facelift, but the real joy is in the delectable flavors and exceptional taste of this gelato.

The owner, Giuseppe, singled me out because I was telling my friend that the fact that this gelateria uses Valrhona chocolate is kind of a big deal. It’s a super fancy chocolate and who would want to spend money on a fancy chocolate when there’s so much cheap chocolate powder out and about? Clearly, someone with a major passion for quality gelato.

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Don’t get him started–he won’t let you go. He’s so passionate about his work it’s very contagious–and he’ll keep filling you up with more little tastes! He even gave me a Sicilian briochè that he has brought in fresh daily from Sicily!

The other flavors here are creative and unique as well. There’s the Aztec chocolate which consists of dark chocolate and chili pepper (one of my historical favorites, wherever I can find it in the city.) But there was one flavor I’d never, ever come across in all my gelato-eating in Rome. Dark chocolate, lemon, and black pepper. Sounds disgusting. But is strangely compelling.

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Once again, I realize my desperate need for a macro lens and a real digital camera and not my cell phone. Forgive. It’s on its way from someone who keeps forgetting to bring me their old digital camera as a gift.

Giuseppe is like an anti-snob snob. I don’t know exactly what this means, except that, he’s the worst gelato “snob” I’ve ever met in terms of his passion for his work and his exacting standards for very high quality ingredients (organic, hard-to-find gourmet brand names, pistachio di bronte, etc.). And, he is committed to not building his brand or his name through advertising, but sheerly through word of mouth. Which is why he doesn’t advertise and why he tells me he specifically opened his gelato shop here in Poggio Ameno. He doesn’t even live anywhere near this neighborhood. But he told me, after years of working for some of the big-name gelato shops downtown, “if I can make a name for myself from out here, then I know I’m making a superior product.”

I asked him why he doesn’t tell people about the fact that he uses organic lemons, or all the other special touches he uses to make such a great gelato. He says that he specifically doesn’t because “people who know what good gelato tastes like know it when they taste it. I don’t have to tell them.” And in a way, he has a point. Because I can assure you that I was surprised at how much this gelato compared favorably to the best gelato I’ve had in Rome, with nothing else to indicate that to me other than my tastebuds and gelato-tasting experiences over the years. (See Gelato Tour)

Well. My kids don’t know that the lemons are organic or the chocolate is super fancy or the neighborhood they live in isn’t the equivalent of Beverly Hills. But if it can please an SUV-sized stroller and a 4-year old with a major sweet tooth, then I’m happy.

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And despite my kiddos’ non-discriminating tastes, I, for one, can say that this gelato ranks on par with any of the places from the historic center that I’ve rated highly. If you’re ever in this area, make sure you don’t miss it.

Gelateria I Mannari on Facebook
Via di Grotta Perfetta 125

Celery Flavored Gelato

25 Oct

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It’s that green stuff on the left. Next to the red bell pepper flavored and gorgonzola (bleu cheese) flavored.

And no, I was not feeling brave enough to try. But I did indulge in chocolate-and-toasted sunflower…heavenly.

Love you long time, Fantasia.

My review on Yelp.it

Gelato Fantasia
Viale Aventino 59

Il Gelato Fantasia

7 Sep

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Clicca qui per l’italiano

Which will forever be known in my book as “the first gelateria I’ve ever encountered that makes sambuca gelato.” As in: OH. MY. GOD.

Those of you who know me well know that sambuca and I have a close, personal relationship. Sambuca has gotten me through this summer, through thick and thin, for better or for worse. Therefore, when a friend of mine introduced me to Fantasia, and magically my eyes fell on this label, it was love at first sight:

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Ricotta, sambuca and caffè?! Are you kidding me? Sold.

I added my favorite standby, gelato with cookies, and I was good to go. But people, let me tell you how I wanted to try this one:

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Toasted sunflower seeds and chocolate? For reals?

Or wait, wait! What about this one:

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Salted peanuts! Never in my life have I seen such a sight in an Italian gelateria! I love these people!

But wait, there’s more!

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Rice, sesame and chestnut honey. Can you even imagine?

I have so much work to do here, it’s not even funny. I asked for the “small cone” (which, by the way, at €1.80 I believe is currently the cheapest small cone I have seen in Rome thus far) and let me tell you, I was majorly regretting it. This was the first time I’ve ever had a second thought and almost went back for another cone after I finished. No, I am not kidding. It’s THAT good.

Holy crap man, you wouldn’t think it. It’s just sitting there, all humble-like, and yet, yet… sigh… love…

People I am not joking around here. Next time you’re on the metro B line, you get off at Circo Massimo, take a few steps and get yourself a cone from here. You will be regretting it too if you only get the small one.

(Oh, by the way? Fresh fruit smoothies for when you get tired of all the trillion awesome flavors…)

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Il Gelato Fantasia
Viale Aventino 59

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Che da adesso in poi si chiamerà “la prima gelateria che io abbia mai visto che fa gelato alla sambuca e perciò sarà profondissimamente amata da me per sempre e poi sempre.” Anche se forse quel nome è un po’ lungo per l’insegna quindi lasciamoli chiamare Fantasia. O, se preferite, O. DIO. MIO. (Aggiungendo “ancora! sì!” se volete)

Chi mi conosce sa che ho un rapporto molto stretto con la sambuca. Sambuca, o santa sambuca mia, quanto ti voglio bene. Quindi, quando un’amica mia mi ha presentato la gelateria Fantasia oggi, ed i miei occhi per puro caso (destino?) si sono lanciati subito su quest’etichetta, allora ragazzi ho capito la vera definizione di “colpo di fulmine”:

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Ricotta, sambuca and caffè?! Ma stammo a scherzà? Venduto!

Aggiunto il mio classico storico, qualsiasi gelato con i biscotti, e allora siamo a posto. Ma ragazzi, posso dirvi quanto volevo anche provare questo gusto?

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Semi di girasole tostate con cioccolato. Mmmmm….

No, aspettate! In realtà volevo provare anche questo:

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ARACHIDI SALATE! Sì avete letto bene. Tiè, tutti voi che disprezzate l’onorevole arachido, ingrediente principale della prelibatezza di “burro di arachidi.” Sospiro…

E come se non bastasse già:

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Ragazzi, c’è così tanto lavoro da fa qui, non so nemmeno dove iniziare. Pensate poi che ho chiesto un cono piccolo (che, fra l’altro, costa solo €1,80, che secondo me è il cono piccolo meno costoso della capitale a questo punto), e vi dico che mi sono resa conto subito del mio errore. La prima volta in vita mia che stavo contemplando di rientrare e ordinare ancora un altro cono. No, non sto scherzando: è buono sì.

E poi per l’amor di Dio, chi avrebbe mai detto? Sta lì, tutto umile, come se non fosse una delle gelaterie migliori della capitale. E poi, poi… sospiro… amore.

Ragazzi, la prossima volta che vi capita di stare sulla metro B, scendete pure a Circo Massimo e fatevi il favore di prendere un gelato qui. Ma non il cono piccolo, mi raccomando.

(Poi, se vi stancate dei loro duemila gusti sfiziati, allora ci sono pure i frullati di frutta…)

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Il Gelato Fantasia
Viale Aventino 56

Gelateria Frigidarium

24 Aug

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Yes, folks, that is about all the loving I can handle in 99 degree weather for the low, low price of 2 euro.

Oh, Frigidarium, holy temple of gelato, with your super fabulous ancient Rome-sounding name. You might look touristy to the untrained eye, but I found you through trusty tips from locals, and I heartily endorse your amazingly frigid creations.

Tip for first-timers: try the namesake flavor, Frigidarium. It’s this indulgent version of “pan di stelle” chocolate cookies, and they even put a whole cookie on top for you. Sooooo yum.

You can have panna (cream) or dipped chocolate. Yes, you read me right… dipped chocolate! No, I have no idea why either.

I could eat lunch here, oh, pretty much everyday I suppose.

Frigidarium
Via del Governo Vecchio 112

Corona Gelateria Artigianale

1 Jul

Clicca qui per l’italiano

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There’s a little gelato shop near the 8 tram in Largo Argentina, that since I left Rome three years ago, has come under new management, and just might be in line to become one of my favorite new gelaterie.

Corona, I’ll forgive you for making me think of one of the sleaziest Italian personalities in recent memory, and try to remind myself that your name is noble (crown) and your gelato is … royal.

I was first intrigued by the “lemon and basil” flavor. I got a taste from the owner (unfortunately forgot to ask his name). It was lovely, but I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy an entire “coppetta” — so I opted instead for a delicious pear with pistacchio brittle (I know! Have you ever heard of such a thing? It was to die for!) and as my second flavor, the saffron and ricotta mix.

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People, I am telling you. Words cannot describe. How creative can you get with flavors? Forget chocolate and strawberry. Head over here for something really special.

Jump to comments

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C’e una piccola gelateria vicino al capolinea del tram 8 a Largo Argentina, che, da quando sono andata via da Roma tre anni fa, e’ stata messa sotto nuova gestione e ha cambiato nome. Adesso devo dire che sta in linea per diventare forse una delle mie gelaterie preferite.

Corona, ti perdono per il fatto che il vostro nome mi ricorda del squallidissimo Fabrizio Corona (pelle d’oca) e invece cerchero’ di ricordarmi che il vostro gelato e’ davvero nobile.

All’inizio mi sono incuriosita’ dal gusto “limone e basilico.” Il proprietario me l’ha fatto assaggiare ed e’ molto delicato. Comunque non ero sicura che mi sarebbe piaciuta tutta una coppetta. Percio’ ho optato invece per due gusti straordinari e molto creativi. Il primo: pera con una specie di croccante di pistacchi. Non mi ricordo il nome (vergognami) ma era una roba speciale…quel croccante sorprendente, complimenti ragazzi per un’idea originale! Poi il secondo gusto: ricotta e zafferanno. Delizioso.

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Veramente senza parole. Lasciamo perdere il cioccolato e la fragola. Ormai sono gusti andati. Andate qui per qualcosa di diverso e indimenticabile!

Corona Gelateria Artigianale
Largo Arenula 27