Tag Archives: gelato

The Best Gelato in Lisbon

At the start of our latest trip we lamented openly the lack of gelato in Lisbon, but little did we know that, since our last trip in 2015, there had been something of a gelato renaissance in Lisbon. We’re talking about Italian-style gelato here, not ice cream (though Lisbon has that too, the most famous ice cream maker being Santini) Now gelato shops seem to be popping up everywhere (especially anywhere tourists happen to be) but most of it is just meh. But never fear, there are now some great places to get gelato in Lisbon, too.

The gelato renaissance all started with Nannarella (Various locations, main location São Bento), which was founded by expats from Rome. One of the original founders of Nannarella, Filippo Licitra, then split off on his own to start rival Gelato Davvero (Various locations, main location Cais de Sodré). We can attest that both of these gelato places are the real deal, after having visited each several times. The locations are pretty much only walk up counters, but fortunately Lisbon is replete with parks and other places to enjoy your cone. So which one do we like better? It’s hard to say…both of these are delicious, but each has their pros and cons. For each of the following categories we have selected a winner.

  • Prices – Draw. Prices were comparable for either a cup or cone, for Davvero a Piccolino was €1.75, a Piccolo, €2 (seen above), Medio €3, Grande €4, and Grandissmo €5. Anything above a medium is just huge. You can also get half liters and up of gelato in boxes to take home (1L is €16 at each place). For Nannarella, there are fewer options, a small for €2, medium for €3 and large for €3.50. At the top end Nannarella is a little cheaper, but Davvero lets you get larger sizes.

  • Wait time – Davvero. As M can attest, I hate to wait in line. However, I did wait in line 30 minutes for Nannarella (see above, which was just bordering on too much. The waits at Davvero were much shorter, so take that for what you will.
  • Ambiance – Draw, slight edge Davvero. Each place has only storefront outlets with nowhere to sit, except the Cais de Sodré location of Davvero that has both indoor and outdoor seating, which is right on the square.
  • Extras – Nannarella. You can get whipped cream for free at Nannarella. Maybe they also have it at Davvero, but we have never been offered this topping. At Nannarella you can also get a mini cone to put on top of your cup for 20 cents – a great idea we have never seen before.

  • Generosity – Nannarella. For the small cup size, Davvero allows 2 flavors. Nannarella (above) allows unlimited flavors, which basically means you can get 3 scoops or more, as I did here with chocolate, salted caramel and pistachio. The scoops were overall more generous at Nannarella.
  • Taste – Draw. This is a tricky one, and probably relies more on personal preference than anything. The consistency of both gelato is smooth and creamy, and the flavors are delicious, and not artificial at all (we used pistachio as a test for this). Neither of the pistachio gelatos are bright green, and both taste delicious and natural. At both stores you can get classic flavors like strawberry, coffee, hazelnut, chocolate chip and vanilla. However, we liked the salted caramel more at Nannarella, though Davvero’s sour cherry was the fast favorite of our travel buddies. Each location has special flavors of the day, and there are even some more unique flavors like basil (Nannarella) and cheesecake (Davvero).

Overall, Nannarella, the original may have a slight edge over Davvero, though we wouldn’t turn up our noses at either. We are just grateful that Lisbon is experiencing a boom in gelato!

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Argentine gelato in Evanston at FRÍO

Argentina_flagWe were on our way back from a bike ride when we came across FRÍO Gelato (517 Dempster St, Evanston, IL 60201), an answer to our secret hopes for a cold treat. We are always up for gelato, and FRÍO does gelato with an Argentine twist. Gelato is huge in Argentina, due to the massive Italian immigration to the country. We remarked upon a mysterious (long gone) Argentine ice cream store in Chicago many years ago, so short of a trip to Argentina, we were excited to try some Argentine icy treats.friogelatoAlongside the typical gelato flavors you might expect, there was also dulce de leche, avocado and malbec. You can also get fresh-fruit sorbet flavors, tasty coffee drinks and the classic Argentine mate drink. We were there for gelato, however, so we sampled the dulce de leche and the marsala wine sambayon, an Argentine riff on zabaglione, an Italian custard desert. The gelato was light and creamy, with bold flavors. Though it tasted pretty similar to the Italian-style gelato we’ve had, we really appreciated the fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations on offer at FRÍO. Plus, if you really want a unique Argentine spin on dessert you can get the gelato between two alfajor cookies!FrioStore

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Eating like a local in Venice

VeniceRain
ItalyWe were afraid to eat in Venice. Maybe it is because of a super strict ordinance serving fines and police scrutiny for eating in St. Mark’s square. Not that many tourists would have dared, considering that St. Marks was well under 2 feet of water when we arrived on a soggy cold day. However, with this first impression, we were a little intimidated, since getting food from various shops, cobbling together a picnic meal and eating al fresco is our obligatory European mealtime.
RialtoFruit

But, no matter, we figured out a way to do it, and you can too. Our first stop was the Rialto Market. Rialto Market is a classic open-air fruit and veggie market. It is surprisingly un-touristy though you will find quite a few tourists alongside the hustle and bustle of locals. By 2:30 everything is pretty much closed up – so hurry to get there before lunchtime if you can. We picked up some Sicilian oranges and sundried tomatoes, though as you can see there is a wide  variety of produce available (and even some chili peppers and flowers).
CasaDelParmigiano
In order to supplement our fruit and veg we got cheese and prosciutto at Casa Del Parmigiano (San Polo, 214, 30125 Venezia). It is an absolutely tiny little store, but is completely packed with cheese. In fact, this is probably one of the highest cheese-to-square foot ratios I have ever seen. The store has been in operation since 1936 and you can tell they are experts at the craft of cheese. There is every type of Italian cheese under the sun We got some goat’s milk Latteria della Valsassina cheese to go, which was creamy and mild.  In addition, there is a small but well-curated selection of prosciutto, and the San Daniele we chose was among some of the finest we ever tasted. We picked up two little ciabatta rolls from a grocery shop nearby to complete our sandwich. We ate clandestinely, evading authorities just off the Rialto market under a covered sidewalk that led to some sort of governmental building.

CasaDelParmigiano2

Our final stop Gelatoteca SuSo (Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia). It is a little way back from the canal and found it only through a 6th sense that directs us toward gelato products. Suso makes gelato artiginale – artisinal gelato – produced in-house in a large number of unusual flavors.  M got the Orient Express (cinnamon, clove and caramel) and L got Death in Venice [ha ha!] – coffee and chocolate swirl. The gelato was excellent, and the perfect finish to our al fresco lunch. Though we had to do it on the sly – we managed to find (and eat) some non-touristy food in Venice.

SusoGelato

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One Sweet Course: Carpigiani Gelato University

ItalyAs graduate students we’ve taken our fair share of classes, but this class in particular caught our eye – the master Gelato course at the Carpigiani Gelato University outside of Bologna. Run by Carpigiani, an Italian company that manufactures gelato machines, the Gelato University course is 4 weeks long, and attracts students from all around the world hoping to get into the business of gelato. The course not only teaches about gelato-making techniques, but about gelato history and culture, as shown below in a video by Monocle.

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Eating Cheap and Well in Jardim América, São Paulo

brazilThe area southwest of Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, bordered on the west by Avenida Rebouças and on the east by Avenida Nove de Julho, encompassing the neighborhoods of Jardim América and Cerqueira César, is one of the swankiest and most upscale neighborhoods in the Americas. It is home to São Paulo’s finest restaurants – i.e., some of the finest restaurants in the hemisphere – and thus is a must for any foodie. Yet this high concentration of culinary awesomeness comes with an annoying tradeoff: eating there can be exorbitantly expensive. But, determined eaters as we are, we did some exploring and came up with a tasty, cheap snack itinerary for those of you wanting to explore the area without breaking your wallet.

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Street art in Jardim America

Start out at Casa Bauducco (Alameda Lorena, 1682), a well-known Italian bakery famous for their Panettone. Sample the wide variety of cookies and pastries available, but do yourself a favor and get a fresh slice of chocottone (chocolate panettone, R$5.80), heated with cinnamon and sugar on top. The recipe supposedly takes over 40 hours to make, and you can taste every bit of effort in that chocottone.

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Casa Bauducco

A few blocks away, continue with the Italian trend and cool off your mouth with a few scoops of the finest gelato in Brazil at  Bacio di Latte (Rua Bela Cintra, 1829). Get a grande size for R$12, and up to three flavors. We recommend the maracujá (passionfruit) and negrissimo (super dark chocolate) flavors, especially in combination. Be sure to sit on one of the converted milk jugs as seats.

If you need a little relaxation time, take a load off in the excellent book selection and beanbag chairs at the famous Livraria da Vila (Alameda Lorena, 1731), where you can admire the famous bookshelf-doors while sipping a coffee or cappuccino at their cafe and wondering why anyone would pay R$ 10 to valet a car at a bookstore.

Still hungry? Walk south to the unassuming Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo (Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408), serving up the best cheese bread in the city, if not the country. If you have time, wait for a fresh batch to come out: you will get the most for your R$4.50, which is worth it [full review here].

Having had your fill of cheese bread,finish up your explorations by deciding what other flavors could entice you at Folie (Cristiano Viana, 295), purveyor of excellent French macarons. Choose from Brazilian-inspired flavors, including brigadeiro and beijinho; or go with something even more inventive, such as drink-themed macarons with flavors like Gin & Tonic and Green Tea.

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The best gelato in São Paulo: Bacio di Latte

Bacio di Latte
(4 Locations) We visited: Rua Bela Cintra 1829
São Paulo, Brazil

In addition to having the best pizza in Brasil, due to the proliferation of Italian influence in São Paulo, there is also some of the best gelato in Brasil. Bacio di Latte (“Milk Kiss” in Italian) has been receiving accolades for their gelato, so we had to visit an outpost while we were in São Paulo. We visited the location in Jardim America, definitely the “Upper East Side” of São Paulo. Everything is expensive and beautiful – including the food. Bacio di Latte follows the neighborhood trend, with a brand new, big, flashy store, with a nice outdoor cafe area. To order, you pay at the cashier first (like at Giolitti), and then make your way over to the luminous gelato counter to select your flavors. Obviously, everyone is there for the gelato, but they also have some baked goods and coffee drinks.

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Bacio di Latte Interior

Bacio di Latte had all the telltale signs of good gelato: it is made in-house (you can barely get a peek of people making gelato in the kitchen), no neon colors, and no artificially air-whipped peaks. We were also excited to see that there were no less than five flavors of chocolate on offer. To order you select your size: it is R$ 8 for a small (up to 2 flavors) R$ 10 for a medium (up to 3 flavors) and R$ 12 for a large (up to 3). The flavor selection is overwhelming, but fortunately you can ask for small samples of any flavor including Zabaglione, Doce de Leite, Guava, and Pistachio, among others. You may have to brush up on your Italian to interpret some of the flavors (the complete list is online).

Bacio di Latte

Bacio di Latte Milk Cream, Dark Chocolate and Passion Fruit

From our time in Italy consuming as much gelato as humanly possible, we settled on the following flavor combination that we felt gave us maximum gelato enjoyment: a dark chocolate variety, a fruit variety, and something with a cream or vanilla base for contrast. We went with this strategy and got the dark, dark chocolate Nerissimo, passion-fruit and the Bacio di Latte milk cream with Nutella chunks. Every flavor was outstanding and the gelato’s texture was excellent. The dark chocolate was really dark chocolate – which we love. The “Bacio di Latte” ice cream flavor also reminded us of the “Cereal Milk” flavor from Momofuku Milk Bar that really tastes like cereal! The passion fruit flavor has more of a sorbet texture, but the favor was amazing. As we sat on our milk pails that doubled as counter stools, we couldn’t believe we devoured our gelato so quickly (though that always seems to happen). It may not have been quite as good as Italy, but it was pretty darn close, and we know we would be visiting Bacio di Latte frequently if we lived in São Paulo.

Bacio di Latte Chocolate Flavors

The many Bacio di Latte Chocolate Flavors

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Finer Things Club: Berthillon

Berthillon
31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île
Paris, 75004

You know ice cream is good if you crave it even in 40 degree, rainy weather (hmmm, just like Chicago right now). Despite the gross grey drizzle we made a pilgrimage to Berthillon on Île Saint-Louis, fine purveyors of delicious house-made ice creams. Along with L’As du Fallafel, Berthillon is another one of our Paris must-dos – beware though – many places on the same road on the Île advertise that they carry Berthilllon ice cream, but only one is the ORIGINAL Berthillon. As a respite from the cold we opted to go into the small but elegant Berthillon tea room to sample some ice cream (in the Summer there is a walkup counter).

The little tea room serves all of Berthillon’s myriad ice cream flavors – which rotate in and out on a daily basis. The flavor selection at Berthillion is massive – and includes all of the classics, like hazelnut or vanilla, as well as particularly fresh and potent fruit sorbets, there are even a few more unusual flavors like Earl Grey Tea, Turron and Ginger (full list of ice creams and sorbets here – both PDFs). We are partial to the chocolate ice cream and raspberry sorbet flavors, however you can’t go too wrong. Also – as a bonus – they serve Mariage Frères tea – another one of our all-time favorites! While the Eaters opted for a decadent dish of chocolate ice cream covered in chantilly and chocolate sauce along with an almond tuile, our friends went for the salted caramel ice cream. For an accompaniment we got a small pot of Thé à l’Opéra, one of our favorite Mariage Frères varieties, a green tea and red berry blend. For the more adventurous there are also more elaborate sundaes (but those will cost you a lot more). It doesn’t matter the weather – you know you want ice cream!

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The best gelato in Rome: Giolitti

Giolitti
Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40
Rome, Italy

Who knew that something that only cost 2.50 Euros could be so wonderful. We had our fair share of gelato in Sicily, but nothing could compare to the amazing gelato we got at Giolitti in Rome.  Tourists and locals alike fill this place every morning until 1:30 AM, and probably have since its opening in 1900. It became a Roman ritual of ours to get a scoop (or 3) of Giolitti and walk over to the Pantheon, which was a few mere blocks away. Though both of these places were constantly packed to the brim, we never seemed to mind.

The ordering process at Giolitti is a little bit different than most shops. You pay at the front cashier and get a receipt with your order. You then take your ticket to the ice cream counter and elbow your way to the front. You tell the scooper what flavors you want – and fast! No time for pondering!

The only ‘problem’ is choosing between a dizzying array of flavors of ice creams and sorbets. There are common flavors like chocolate, hazelnut and strawberry, but also other more esoteric offerings like Indian Fig, Baba al Rhum and Champagne. The chocolate fondente flavor was the darkest richest chocolate gelato we had ever tasted, so we were pretty much hooked from first bite. But since there were 3 flavors per scoop we felt we had to try a few of the myriad options.  Here are the optimal flavor combinations we arrived upon after days of deliberation:

  • L: Chocolate fondente, Oreo & Raspberry
  • M: Chocolate fondente, Oreo & Coconut


If you wanted any evidence of the gluttony present, this is an example of a single scoop. Yes, a single scoop at Giolitti is in fact a triple scoop with a huge dollop of whipped cream on the top. Heaven! We will never forget our daily trip to Giolitti, and we would be hard pressed to find a better gelato anywhere.

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Italian gelato at Linz & Vail [closed]

One of the absolute best things you can have as a snack is gelato (even if it is below freezing out). So of course, I couldn’t help myself when I passed this coffeeshop/gelateria combo, Linz and Vail (2012 Central Street, Evanston, IL). The shop is tiny and cute, with a window counter in the main room, and a small dining room with comfy chairs, a few tables and… A box of Mr. Potato Heads. Linz & Vail serves Intelligensia coffee, which will probably appeal to the caffeine-inclined, but I made a beeline for the homemade gelato.

A single scoop cost about four bucks with tax, but had the neat option of allowing you to choose up to 4 flavors for your cup. I chose chocolate and nutella: other options were Stracciatella (chocolate chip), Pistachio, Coffee, Vanilla, and Lemon (I hear it changes daily). All in all, the gelato was good, but not amazing. The flavors were great, but the texture seemed a little light, I’m for dense gelato, so that put me off a bit. The chocolate was better than the nutella, which almost tasted like it was whipped. All in all, it was definitely tasty – plus the staff was very polite and friendly, which I cannot say for some other coffeeshops I’ve been to recently.

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