Leonardo Vestri is a chocolatier (his family has a plantation in the Domenican Republic, which cultivates and processes cacao), and most of the space in the shop is devoted to chocolate. But he makes 16 flavors of superb gelato that change with the seasons. His shop is therefore well worth a visit for both chocolate and gelato lovers. He refines his own hazelnuts from Piemonte, pistachios from Bronte, insuring maximum quality for those flavors.
Simone Bonini's gelateria, Carapina, is in an out-of-the-way location, but it's worth the schlep for true gelato lovers. Standout flavors include Vin Santo custard; Arabica coffee; neroassoluto, milk-less chocolate made with 70 percent chocolate; cocktail-inspired daiquiri, cuba libra, or orange Campari sorbetti; and yoghurt flavors without milk. Pair the Vin Santo with Mattei's biscotti or ask them to slather practically any flavor on Mattei's biscotti della saluti instead of a cone. Gelato to go is packed into an attractive black Styrofoam cube.
At Le Parigine, Davide Bellegotti's gelato is made with organic milk from the Maremma area of Tuscany and the difference is evident, sweeter in an unsugary way. Fresh fruit, whole eggs, select chocolate, and expensive Greek yogurt flavor his gelato. Granita is chunkier than most, un-Sicilian (Davide is from Veneto) but tasty and refreshing. The eponymous specialty, le parigine are made to order with any flavor of your choice, sandwiched between two square wafers in a little press, in 1, 2 or 3 euro sizes.
Photo by Faith Willinger
At Il Procopio, Giancarlo Palmerio veers from classics with chocolate sorbet, chocolate-coffee semifreddo called Jamaica dream, cinnamon chocolate, and La Follia with dried figs, almonds, and pine nuts, all in a glass display case. His granita, stored with the well system, takes my mouth back to Sicily. I'm also wild about his ghiaccioli ice pops--fresh seasonal fruit or mint.
Carabe', owned by Sicilians Antonio and Loredana Lisciandro, is another favorite for granita, although they don't use the well system, rarely found in Sicily. Almond, lemon, coffee, seasonal fruit, even mulberry on occasion are among the choices. Gelato flavors with Sicilian hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios, and lemon are worth note. And Antonio has plans for an heirloom orchard to provide fruit for his gelateria--I'm planning to check it out as soon as I can.
Antonio Cafarelli is the new Sicilian on the block at Il Re Gelato. His gelato and granita are different, not as refined (clearly not made with pastes and mixes), and textures and flavors are simply delicious, all in glass display cases. Almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts are from Sicily. Fruit is pureed with skin, flavors are strictly seasonal. I had a granita tasting--spectacular almond, lemon, coffee served with whipped cream. Gelato is also worth saving room for--Sicilian citrus custard, Greek yogurt with walnuts and figs, chocolate with rum, cinnamon and chili pepper. Antonio also serves Sicilian pastry, including small or large cannoli filled to order. Both pistachio gelato and granita are worth a voyage, the best in the city.