We arrived in Rome dreaming of victory — and chilly treats — thanks to a delicious competition. My three companions and I each chose the gelato shop we thought would be the best in the city, based on advance research. When our wanderings brought us near one of our picks, we’d stop in for scoops, one for each of us and another to share. Then came the taste-testing (the best part), and the scoring (the tedious part, using an elaborate formula devised by the lawyer among us). We added a fifth location, near our rental apartment, after discovering its wonders.
We forgot to determine a reward for the champ, but that didn’t matter. Given the heaps of gelato we enjoyed, we all won.
Shops are listed from best to, well, least best.
Gelateria la Romana
Our favorite spot looks like a pharmacy, with surfaces of gleaming chrome and white. The shop’s science works. The gelato has the best creamy texture; tempting flavors include the lemony Crema dal 1947. (Across the Tiber River from Piazza del Popolo at Via Cola di Rienzo 2.)
The first sign this was a top choice: Italians waiting in a long line. The pretty pastel interior is more proof that the oldest gelato maker in Rome takes its products seriously. Customers can sit down (which costs extra) at marble-topped tables under chandeliers. (Near the Pantheon at Via Uffici del Vicario 40.)
This shop’s mix-masters blend such ingredients as basil, honey, walnuts or almonds, and cardamom to create their distinctively fresh flavors. I swooned over the chocolate-hazelnut “Bacio del Principe,” the prince’s kiss. (In the Monti neighborhood at Via degli Zingari 5, and other locations.)
Affogato di Zabaione at Fiocco di Neve
For the espresso drinkers in our group, this tiny store was a contender. That’s because the treat of choice here is the delicious “Affogato di Zabaione,” a scoop of zabaione gelato (infused with Marsala wine) doused with espresso (affogato translates as “drowned”). If coffee is your thing, you have to try it. (Via del Pantheon 51.)
We went with high hopes — it came recommended by an Italian — but were only slightly impressed, mainly because the gelato felt heavy and grainy. Still, flavors are intense. Try the rice, a house specialty with a gentle sweetness and specks of rice. (Near the Jewish Ghetto at Via della Seggiola 12.)