Testaccina likes a good scrap. Especially when food is involved. We’re not talking bun-fights, but healthy competition – the best thing, in our opinion, to ensure that members of the public get quality, consistency, and keen prices. It’s still 30 degrees in Rome and gelato is definitely high on the agenda, so I decided to take a peek at the ice-cream wars being waged in the district of San Giovanni, and specifically at Piazza dei Re di Roma. A dense residential area, San Giovanni runs from the eponymous Basilica right down the colourful and dirty Appia Nuova, that marks the south-easterly route of the Metro A-line. At precisely the Re di Roma metro stop, on the roundabout of the same name, a stand-off between quality ice-cream parlours has recently started to escalate. For the sake of brevity, we’re calling it a Melt-Off.
In case you’ve missed the natural gelato debate, people have been getting terribly excited about the birth of organic, all-natural, often gluten-free ice-cream stores in Rome, after decades of domination by the city’s traditional gelato royalty. Now, it’s not enough to recommend the likes of Giolitti or Fassi to friends and visitors. Step aside, granddad – hip ice-cream has arrived.
In March of this year, Gelato Ti Amo opened at Re di Roma to a flurry of interest, not far from the gluten-free offerings of Procopio – and just a couple of blocks from heavyweights il Gelato di San Crispino and Pompi. That was following in June by the arrival on the roundabout of the rather bewitching Fatamorgana, launching its sixth branch in the city of gluten-free ice-creams and cones, with delicious all-natural flavours (We love the ananas and ginger; and basil, walnut and honey gusti). Now, as of August, il Gelato di Conforti has opened just steps from Fatamorgana. It’s the first branch in the city for this family-run operation which was previously only located in Latina and Anzio. The fruit for the flavours still comes rigorously from local sources in Anzio, as do the hand-cooked wafer cones. Look out for a startlingly brilliant brie flavour, as well as a walnut and fig conserve option and a handsome cream selection in rich, appealing tones. Just in case that wasn’t enough, every 100 minutes whoever finds themselves at the front of the queue has 60 seconds to choose a free ice-cream. Like you needed one more reason to rush down there.
Reader, I did mean to take a picture of the ice-cream I sampled but I had a “nom nom” moment and slurped the whole lot before I could whisk my smartphone out. So you’re just going to have to check it out yourself.
Fatamorgana – Via Aosta 3
Il Gelato di Conforti – Piazza dei Re di Roma 50
Il Gelato di San Crispino – Via Acaia 56
Gelato Ti Amo – Via Appia Nuova 74
Procopio – Piazza dei Re di Roma 39
Pompi – Via Albalonga 7b-11