I like to think of myself as a bit of a gelato expert. I have no idea how to make the lovely stuff (although I have dreams of having a gelateria in Italy one day) but i have tasted an awful lot of it from a large number of establishments (particularly in Italy). I feel it is my duty to try as many gelaterias as possible when on holiday in order to find some of the best. It is always the first thing I research when I head to my favourite country.
Before we move onto the best gelato in Venice, it is important to note that gelato is not ice-cream. This is a really useful infographic, but basically gelato uses less butter fat (so is better for you!), has less air and is served at a higher temperature than ice-cream. This means that it melts quicker once in your mouth and the flavour is released faster giving you an instant flavour punch plus is a lot creamier.
Okay, to the places we tried. I can’t guarantee, of course, that I had the best gelato in Venice but I can certainly recommend a few places. I made a map! I have numbered them in the order that we tried them, although I have realised that I have know left one off (it was more ice-cream than gelato so avoid the red lettered gelateria in the corner on St Stefano Palazzo). (Yup that is dedication, 4 nights – 6 gelato tastings!).
- Alaska Gelateria was one of the internet suggestions I found. On the first day in Venice we ended up walking for a very long time and after finding a place for lunch I realised we weren’t far from this place. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing. The flavours were interesting enough but I would say that it was a little too much ice-cream and didn’t have the smooth and creamy texture that a gelato should have.
- Ca d’Oro had a very modern and sleek interior (which I quite like). The flavours were a bit safer but it was much of an improvement on the first try. I went for my favourite combination of pistachio and chocolate. I would have preferred a more intense chocolate but it was definitely good.
- We had gelato from Majer after an hour plus walk to try and find the Museum of Fabric and Costume, which we then discovered was closed until May and then went to the Natural History Museum instead. Sitting in the nearest palazzo eating gelato was the perfect remedy for my sore feet. I have a feeling it might be a chain (although I didn’t see any other gelaterias with the name I had spotted some deli type stores with the same name) but it was still pretty good. Again only a small selection was available but it was delicious.
- Grom is a chain that we have tried before in Bologna. On our last day as we passed one on our way to number 5, concern that number 5 would be as disappointing as number 1 made me suggest a ‘sure thing’ for our last day. There was a good queue outside and their flavours include some standards as well as some more adventurous ones.
- As it happened we then passed Gelateria il Doge which had a massive queue of Italians outside. I had to try it. I ended up getting their ‘Crema il Doge’ (or something close to that) which was a cream flavour with chocolate saucy bits and orange peel. I love traditional Italian flavours that might not be so well known to the foreigner and really enjoyed this.
I didn’t get to to trying all the suggestions on the internet (partly because I couldn’t seem to find them before but there seem more that came up in my searches now), but tried a few places. So when you head to Italy and you don’t have any suggestions of where to go here are some tips for spotting the good gelaterias from the tourist traps:
- Because gelato is served warmer than ice-cream it melts faster. Those shops with mile high towers of frozen dessert are unlikely to have the creamy texture of gelato because they would just melt. Unless there is a massive queue (preferably of Italians) avoid it.
- Look at the colour of the gelato. If you spot bright blue bubblegum carry on walking. A good marker is always the pistachio. It should have a subtle light green colour (as shown below).
- When put in a cup/cone it should have a softer consistency than ice-cream. This doesn’t form perfect little ice-cream balls but is more pliable and has a more rustic look.
- Look for some unique flavours. Why would you want to go to Italy and have plain chocolate when you can have cioccolata noir with little chocolate nibs for an intense chocolate hit.
- Ask an Italian eating gelato!
I hope you find this useful if setting off for Venice (or Italy generally) and would love any suggestions if you have been. You never know when I’ll head back.