Now that the weather is starting to get warmer and you start to get those gelato cravings, you need to be able to know how to distinguish a good gelateria from all those tourist traps, and believe me, there are plenty out there. Specially if you are visiting or living in Italy, there are so many places selling you gelato, that it is always useful to know your way around the art of choosing a decent artisanal gelato.
If you are one of those persons that thinks that in some places in the world, namely Italy, all gelaterias are selling you the real deal, than think again. Nowadays that there are too much “self-proclaimed” artisanal gelaterias, I’m happy to share some basic tips that will certainly help to make the right choice and avoid some frozen deceptions.
1. The line
The line is the most obvious and basic sign to spot a good gelateria, I almost feel embarassed of writing it here, but the truth is that it really works in the right situations.
Consider that the “line method” is usually working better if you are in places that are not full of tourists looking for something refreshing, like in more quiet or residential areas or even of course during the low gelato season (autumn and winter). It is common sense that if you are in a place that is crowded with people you will have big lines everywhere, so avoid to use the “line” as criteria in these situations. But attention, do never use it as stand alone criteria.
2. The list of flavours
A good gelateria should be presenting you with a list of flavours that are available according to the season. The exeption are some flavours that you can easily find all year round, like chocolate, banana and nuts in general. Also, if in the list of flavours you spot flavours like Smurf (Puffo in Italian), bubble gum, and so on, you will probably want to be getting away from that place.
3. The display
If the gelato is displayed in huge mounds above the top of the containers and this mounds then decorated with colorful fruits, lots of drizzles and toppings, then you know that this gelato is a fake. Tourist trap alert!!! Those gelatos have higher percentages of stabilizers and air so they look more solid and more easily hold their shape. Good gelato stands for itself and big decorations are, most of the times, desperate ways to attract your attention, just like dubious motels with big flashing arrow signs.
4. The color
Good gelato is made only with real natural ingredients, by looking at the colors of some flavours you can quickly distinguish how good that gelato is. In a good gelateria that uses only natural ingredients, the colors will be a bit more pallid and brown. Flavours like Pistachio and Banana are good examples to distighuish quality, Pistachio should be an earthy green or brownish (depending on the type of pistachio used) and Banana should be greyish. The more bright and fake those colors look to you the more additives the gelato contains.
5. The gelato containers
I know that vision is very important to make a decision, but usually a sign of a good gelateria is if the gelato is storaged in those round metal containers with a lid. This type of containers are helping to keep that gelato at the perfect temperature and consistency. If you have problems in choosing without being able to look, you can always ask the person that is serving you if you can taste the flavour first (no worthy place would deny that right to a paying customer). If the containers are not round it is not a deal breaker, I already tried some good gelaterias that still prefer to keep the gelato at sight.