I consider myself something of an expert on ice-cream. All my life I’ve loved it. When I was growing up in Oz, the tubs you could buy at Coles or Woolworths were a bit limited: basically, it was vanilla, chocolate or Neapolitan, which is a tri-flavoured brick of ice-cream consisting of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. I used to drive my mother mental as I’d only eat the vanilla and chocolate – leaving a whole slab of strawberry in the container. Oh and I also remember a great ice-cream from Streets I think – called cassata – with decent bits of glacé cherries swirled throughout.

Then I went to Italy in my late 20s and discovered gelato. So naturally, I’ve been tasting my way through Rome’s many and varied gelato places. I’ve yet to try an artisanal gelato but I thought I had discovered Rome’s best gelato in a Gelateria behind the Pantheon until my mate arrived in Rome and we went to Giolitti, via Uffici del Vicario, 40 – just a short walk from the Pantheon.

Giolitti describes itself as an “old ice-cream shop from 1900” and the interior of the shop certainly has that wonderful old-world charm. Giolitti is open 365 days a year from 7.00am to 1.30am. I did wonder who’d be scoffing gelato at 7.00am in the morning, until I realised that pastries and savoury food is on offer too.

A lovely waiter came along, decked out in a white uniform with epaulettes, and gave us a large red gelato menu. This was full of tantalizing delights such as: Torta alla Fragola, Coppa Mondiale, Coppa Olimpica (created in 1960 to celebrate the Olympic Games in Rome – I must try this when I drop in again this coming weekend). We decided the selections were all too much and asked for four flavours of gelato each, without cream. We decided to save on the calories 🙂

The flavours I selected were: Pistachio, Bacio (a mix of chocolate and hazelnut); Italian cassata; and Tiramisu. I’m afraid I can’t get beyond Tiramisu – love this Italian dessert made from savoiardi or ladyfingers, dipped in coffee and flavoured with a touch of liquor. The gelato flavours came in a large serving glass with a huge wafer thing for which I’m sure there’s an Italian word. The gelato had a smooth, creamy, velvety consistency with no ice crystals. A couple of gelatos I’ve sampled have had ice crystals and that’s a definite no-no. The Tiramisu flavour was quite strong with the liquor and tended to over-power the other flavours but I liked it. My favourite of the four though was Bacio.

The cost was Euro 9.00, which is a bit hefty but hey, you’re sitting in a glamorous dining room decorated with chandeliers, Art Deco-style wall lights and salmon-coloured walls. And the gelato recipes are guarded to this day by the third generation of the Giolotti family. Guess that means I won’t be getting any recipes when I pop in this coming weekend to try out that gelato concoction made for the 1960 Olympics.

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