Perfect Fudge Brownies

I am happy to report that here in Rome the temperatures have finally dropped a bit (!!!) meaning 1.) I don't have to take 3-4 cold showers a day 2.) I do not have to sleep directly in front of the fan and 3.) I can, most importantly of all, actually turn on my oven again. Needless to say my "Desserts to try" list was quite long by the time I could start baking again, and though I thought I'd want something more extravagant -- chocolate pecan pie? blueberry cinnamon rolls? -- I realized that all I really wanted was a pan of simple, classic, all-American brownies. 

I've realized I'm a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to brownies. Some recipes I've tried don't pack enough of a chocolate punch; some are too dry; some are too sweet; and still others are more cake-y rather than fudge-y. After a bit of recipe research (brownies made with chocolate? brownies made with cocoa powder? brownies made with brown sugar or without?) I opted for this one. I liked that it used both chocolate as well as cocoa powder, a good amount of butter, and not a lot of flour, which would ensure a fudge-y brownie.  To say that this recipe exceeded my expectations is an understatement -- these were a pure hit of chocolate, fudge-y and rich and dark, everything you would ever possibly want in a brownie and more. They are a million times better than your boxed brownie mix (you won't be able to go back to that after trying these) and really only require a bit of extra effort that is well worth it. These are my new standard, "go to" brownie recipe, and I can guarantee that they'll make you the most popular person in the office if you bring them to work (especially if you do so on a Monday morning). These would also be great served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (brownie sundae!) with a dollop of whipped cream and some raspberries or strawberries. If you're still sitting here reading this post, you shouldn't be -- go make these right away! Enjoy everyone!


PERFECT FUDGE BROWNIES

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
8 ounces coarsely chopped good quality semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the butter chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl. Let it cool to room temperature. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. You could also butter the pan instead, but make sure you are very thorough as these have the tendency to stick to the pan a bit. 

Next, whisk together the sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl and then whisk into the chocolate and butter mixture. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Once everything is well mixed, stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, lift the foil/parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Cut the brownies in to squares. Makes about 16 brownies.






















Recipe from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com.








Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes

If you haven't already guessed from the title of this blog, I'm a big fan of pancakes. For me, a stack of pancakes served with butter and plenty of maple syrup is the ultimate breakfast, whose superiority can best be described in hypothetical breakfast scenarios. For example, if Pancakes were a contender in Game of Thrones, they would definitely be sitting on the Iron Throne by now; if there were a Breakfast Olympics, Pancakes would be the repeat gold medalists (with French Toast taking the silver and Home Fries taking the bronze, probably). If Breakfast were the Academy Awards, Pancakes would totally be the Meryl Streep of the Oscar count, with more Oscars than they could count. You get what I'm saying.

Apart from being the winner in all hypothetical breakfast scenarios, pancakes are also awesome in terms of their versatility. While buttermilk pancakes are the most classic type of pancake, I've also made chocolate chip pancakes, pumpkin pancakes, gingerbread pancakes, and  banana pancakes, among others --  the possibilities are endless. These pancakes are based on a recipe that I came across many years ago in one of my mom's Bon Appetit magazines, and they're among my very favorites. They are a  bit different than your average pancakes for a couple of reasons: first off, they're made with cornmeal, which may sound strange, but really works -- think of these as a cross between cornbread and your average blueberry pancake (certainly can't go wrong with that combination, right?)  The cornmeal also gives the pancakes a more substantial consistency and wholesomeness that regular all flour pancakes do not have. These are also far fluffier than the average pancake thanks to beaten egg whites, which are not always a given in your basic pancake recipe but make a world of difference. Finally, these pancakes are sweetened with honey, not sugar, which gives them a nice underlying sweetness that is fantastic with the blueberries. 

This recipe is flexible -- if you're not a fan of blueberries you can also substitute raspberries here or even sliced strawberries. If you don't have buttermilk on hand (I've never seen it here in Italy) you can easily use plain whole milk yogurt (see my note below). If you're not a fan of maple syrup, these would also be great drizzled with honey or served with blueberry compote. Enjoy everyone!

CORNMEAL  BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk, or substitute 2 cups of plain yogurt (not low fat or non fat) thinned with 2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons honey
2
cups blueberries

Extra butter for cooking the pancakes
Maple syrup* 

Directions:
Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk or yogurt, melted butter, egg yolks and honey. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Next, beat the egg whites in another medium bowl to stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter in 2 additions. Stir in the blueberries.

Melt a little butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop the pancake batter by 1/4 cupfuls into the skillet. Cook the pancakes until the bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. 
Using a spatula, turn the pancakes over. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.  

Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter to skillet as necessary. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup (*tip: warm the maple syrup up in the microwave for 20 seconds or so -- my mom always served our pancakes with warm maple syrup and now I can't have them any other way!) Makes 16-18 pancakes. 



Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine (April 1996).







Salmon with Avocado Strawberry Salsa

  
So I'm guessing this is not exactly what first comes to mind when you hear the word "salsa." Don't worry, I understand. Up until fairly recently my knowledge of salsa was limited to the contents of what came in a Tostitos jar, in either mild, medium, or hot. When I was younger, I usually opted for the medium and enjoyed it along with tortilla chips every time my family would watch a football game on TV (I hate sports, especially when they're televised, so the salsa and chips were the most interesting part of the game). 

Even after I had started cooking, I didn't give salsa much of a thought until much later, when I was living in Italy. I know, I know -- salsa? in Italy? -- but my first years in Rome I met a group of Mexican friends through my work at Loyola. Lucky for me, they all shared my passion for cooking, and taught me how to make enchiladas verdes, cochinita pibil, and tres leches cake, all of which were completely different from the ragu' and polpette I had been raised on. Mexican quickly became my second favorite cuisine (nothing beats Italian after all,) and before I knew it I was making homemade tortillas and stocking my pantry with ingredients like carne seca and achiote paste. My Mexican friends nicknamed me "Pancha" (the diminutive of Francisca) and I decided if I weren't Italian American, I would totally want to be Mexican. 

My Mexican friends also introduced me to actual salsa, made with sweet tomatoes, spicy peppers, and sharp onions, all neatly diced and flavorful, nothing like the overly sweet, jarred stuff that I had tried in the U.S. On a trip to Mexico City that summer, I tried different varieties of salsa, all fresh and delicious, some of them so spicy they made my eyes water. My friends eventually returned to Mexico -- an unfortunate downside to the expat life -- but I've since continued to make their recipes. My sweet and savory streak this summer (this watermelon and feta salad! these nectarines with burrata!) got me wondering how I could give salsa a twist.

I'm not sure that my Mexican friends would approve of this salsa, as it isn't exactly traditional, but I must say, it's one of the best things I've invented in a while. The sweet strawberries, sharp onion, creamy avocado, and tangy lime make every bite of this salsa sing, and all of it is rounded out with a little honey and basil to keep things interesting -- every bite is different, and a million times better than the jarred salsa from my youth. Here I've served this with salmon to make a light and healthy summer dinner, but this would also be awesome with tortilla chips or over grilled chicken, or just eaten directly out of the bowl with a spoon. If you're not a fan of any of the ingredients I used, there is definitely some wiggle room here -- substitute mango or pineapple for the strawberries, leave out the avocado all together and up the fruit, substitute cilantro for the basil, or use orange juice instead of lime juice. Enjoy everyone! 

SALMON WITH AVOCADO AND STRAWBERRY SALSA

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets 
Olive oil

1 1/4 cups strawberries, diced
1 avocado, diced
3 tablespoons red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon basil, chopped fine
Juice of the half of one lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with some aluminum foil and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Place the salmon fillets on the aluminum foil and brush with some more olive oil, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 or so minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork (the cooking time can vary depending on how thick the fillets are, so just keep checking). 

While the salmon cooks, combine all of the salsa ingredients together in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice or basil if you'd like. Transfer the salmon to 4 individual plates and spoon the salsa over each. Serves 4. 








Watermelon and Feta Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

In my continuing quest to find new things to eat while in my "it's too hot to cook but I also want good food" phase, I give you my latest discovery, Watermelon and Feta Salad. 

Now, let me explain -- this is not exactly a new idea or recipe -- the watermelon and feta combination has actually been around for quite a while. I remember seeing it in cooking magazines and on various menus back when I was in high school. And every time I saw it, I thought the same thing -- watermelon and feta? Together? Wouldn't the watermelon make the whole salad watery,? my 14 year old self wondered. Wasn't the feta best paired with tomatoes and cucumbers, like in a Greek salad? And wasn't watermelon best sliced anyways, enjoyed at a picnic or barbecue instead of as a first course?  I remember swiftly shooting down my parents' suggestion that we order it as an appetizer at a fancy restaurant in Providence. No, the zucchini and eggplant napoleon was most certainly a better appetizer option, thanks.

Years later, my wiser 26 year old self made this salad with nectarines and burrata, was pleasantly surprised by the result, and figured that whoever created the whole watermelon feta thing might have been on to something. After all, sometimes weird flavor combinations end up being completely genius -- chocolate and mint? bacon and maple syrup? banana and peanut butter? -- and equally convincing of course was the little effort required to prepare the dish.

So, the verdict on this: it is true that the watermelon is sweet and mild and the feta is sharp and salty, but this is precisely why the two work so well together. Both ingredients balance and complement each other perfectly, an odd ingredient couple that happens to be a match made in heaven. The dressing -- olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a touch of honey -- allows the ingredients to shine without overwhelming them. Note that this recipe has some flexibility -- I added some basil for a little bit of color and freshness, but if you wanted you could probably use fresh mint instead, if that's your thing. You could also substitute another kind of lettuce for the arugula, if you wanted. I wouldn't recommend leaving out the red onions, however -- lots of people aren't fans of onions when they're raw, me included usually, but I found that they added a little bite to the salad and contrasted with the sweetness of the watermelon very nicely. 

Apart from being super tasty and quick to make, this salad is also fairly healthy, and perfect for summer when watermelon is at its best (here in Rome it is sold on every street corner this time of year). Enjoy everyone!


WATERMELON AND FETA SALAD

Ingredients:
3 cup watermelon, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 slices red onion, thinly sliced
1 bag of baby arugula
Basil to garnish

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Directions:
Whisk together all of the ingredients for your vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside. 

Combine the watermelon, feta, and onion in a large bowl. Distribute the arugula onto 4 plates. Top the arugula with the watermelon, feta cheese, and red onion mixture, and sprinkle with basil. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the salads, and serve immediately. Serves 4.






What to Eat When It's Too Hot to Cook

Last Saturday, I decided to spend the afternoon at a museum exhibit, followed by some shopping. If you're thinking this all sounds pretty routine, you're not taking in to consideration that the temperatures in Rome are near 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and attempting to do anything more than sit in front of your fan in your underwear is downright heroic.  

In the end, my afternoon was quite nice -- the museum and stores had air conditioning! -- but getting to the center, from the museum to the stores, and then back, was brutal. By the time I got home, I was hungry, but also still overheated from my brave excursion to the center. This wasn't the first time this has happened -- the truth is that in August in Rome, not only is it too hot to turn on the stove, it is almost too hot to even eat. Though I found myself making dishes like pesto and rice salad and sun-dried tomato and olive pasta in the beginning of the summer, they all require at least a little heat and effort, both of which are unappealing now that temperatures are at their peak (example: you mean I have to...boil the water for...12 minutes to cook the pasta?!) Soaring temperatures do not mean however that you can't eat well, so I thought I would share the dishes I've been making lately, which require more assembling and than cooking, and that fill you up without heating you up. Bonus: little to no cooking means they all take only a few minutes to throw together. 

8. Feeling ambitious: Couscous does require some effort/stove use (you need to boil water, mix in the couscous, and then take it off the heat!!) so only make this if you're feeling super ambitious. I usually mix in black olives or kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese. It all comes together in a few minutes and the leftovers are equally good the next day.


7. Feeling a little less ambitious: Panzanella is a dish from Tuscany that makes great use of both leftover bread and summer tomatoes, and requires no cooking at all. Just mix cubes of day old bread (you don't want it to be too fresh, otherwise it gets soggy) with chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, and basil and dress it with red wine vinegar and olive oil. If you want some idea of the quantities, 8-10 cups of bread should serve 8 people or so. In the photo below I also added yellow bell peppers and used whole wheat bread. White beans or tuna might also be a good addition here, though not traditional
 
6. Temperatures high and ambitions low: Nectarines with Burrata, Prosciutto, and Arugula I've made this salad more times than I can count this summer. Again, the only effort requires is assembling a few ingredients and you're good to go. You can get the full recipe here, if you want to know more specific quantities. 





















5. Energy and ambitions low and temperatures
still rising: Watermelon and Feta Salad is similar to the above salad -- I love the fruit and cheese combination, and the play on sweet and savory. 

4. Beginning to feel a little lazy: Insalata Caprese  takes advantage of great summer ingredients -- tomatoes and basil -- and just requires a little slicing and assembling. Be sure to use mozzarella di bufala if you can find it - it makes all the difference. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top to serve.
















3. Feeling pretty lazy: Smoked salmon and avocado on toast, inspired by the open faced sandwiches I tried in Denmark. The ingredient combinations here are endless, so feel free to experiment with whatever you like. I usually mash up the avocado with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. Toasting the bread is optional if you're feeling extra over heated and/or lazy.










2. Feeling completely and utterly lazy: Prosciutto e melone is a classic appetizer here in Italy that I have been eating as a meal because it requires literally no effort, unless you count slicing a few pieces of melon and taking prosciutto out of the fridge effort (if this is the case, please see item 1. below). This is both filling and refreshing. Pair it with some bread if you want to round out the meal.


1. And if all else fails, this is also a completely 
acceptable meal:





Butterscotch Pudding Pops


The order in which I post recipes on the blog is always very carefully thought out; when choosing what the line up will be for the week, I take in to account the season, holiday, and most importantly, whatever I've just posted. For example, if I've just posted a recipe for pasta, I try to share a dessert or an appetizer, just to keep the blog varied (after all, you don't want 10 pasta recipes one after the other. Not that that would be the worst thing, actually...) So, that being said, this recipe doesn't really have much of a place here at the moment -- I've given you recipes for these popsicles, told you how to make and where to get good gelato, and had already prepared and photographed granita for a future post. This blog has more than its share of frozen treats this summer, and I really should've shared some other kind of dessert with you, or maybe a recipe for the grill, or something healthy like vegetables or something. But really, these were far too good to not share immediately

First off: if you don't know what butterscotch is, I am 1.) very sorry for you but also 2.) happy to educate you now (better late than never, right?) Butterscotch very similar to the more commonly known caramel, but made with brown sugar instead of white, with a healthy dose of vanilla extract and sea salt. If you add cream to it, it becomes butterscotch sauce, which is usually served over vanilla ice cream.

This recipe comes from the genius Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, who had the excellent idea to make butterscotch pudding then freeze it in to popsicles. Apart from the fact that this recipe is from Deb, I could also tell from the ingredient list -- butter! cream! brown sugar! vanilla! -- that these would be spectacular, and how right I was. 

Though these are made with popsicle molds, they are not at all icy or fruity like your average popsicle, but rather smooth and creamy, just as you imagine frozen pudding would be. The flavor here is sweet but not cloyingly so, with an underlying complexity thanks to the almost toasty undertones of the caramelized brown sugar and butter. These were so good that my sister and I may or may not have had these for breakfast once or twice (you will understand after you've made these!)

Note that these are also a good compromise if you don't have an ice cream maker -- the texture is very similar to that of ice cream. The only problem I came across with these is that they melt very easily (see casualty below!) and thus were pretty difficult to photograph, but then again these are so good that I think they'll be eaten before they even have a chance to melt.  Enjoy everyone!

BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING POPS

Ingredients:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste (use less of a fine sea salt)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Directions:
Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. You’ll know it’s done when it becomes a bit darker, more syrupy, and smells toasty. Add cornstarch and slowly whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens slightly, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and sea salt. 

Cool mixture to lukewarm. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze as manufacturer directs. Makes about 8 popsicles.


Popsicle casualty!!!

Recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com.



Where To Get the Best Gelato in Rome

Having lived in the Eternal City for four years now, I often get asked for restaurant suggestions, places to visit off the beaten path, and general tips overall. By now, my sister and I have compiled a list of places we recommend, and I thought it might be useful to share it on this blog for anyone who is visiting Rome. So you can now expect both recipes and advice/insider tips on this blog!

So: let's start with advice on gelato, which, next to the Colosseum, is the main reason we all come to Rome, no? While I've given you a recipe for homemade gelato, this doesn't do you much good if you're visiting Rome (like so many are now and will continue to through high season in the Fall). Though Rome is full of gelaterie, not all are exactly worth your time. Below are a few general tips for eating gelato here in Rome, plus my Top 5 Favorite gelaterie to guarantee you good quality, delicious gelato here in the capital, with honorable mentions included. Enjoy everyone!


GENERAL TIPS WHEN EATING GELATO


1. Any gelateria selling brightly colored, puffy looking gelato, is to be avoided. Good quality gelato is flat with neutral colors. Example: pistachio gelato should not be bright green! 

2. Unlike the U.S and many other countries, Italian gelaterie encourage you to order 2-3 different flavors (gusti) per one cup or cone.

3. Do not expect to find flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, or peanut butter cup in gelaterie in Rome -- Italian gelato flavors can most certainly be creative, but don't tend to use as many "mix ins," like candies or cookies. 

4. Even if a gelateria proclaims it’s a gelateria artigianale (artisanal gelateria, implying handcrafted, fresh gelato with) don’t get too excited  -- nowadays, as long as the gelato is prepared on the premise, any gelateria can call itself artisanal. So that means even if they’re using a packet powder gelato mix, with artificial colors and flavors, they can legally call themselves artisanal. Trust your eyes instead: look at the color and shape to determine what looks authentic.
 

5. Gelateria dei Gracchi

If you're visiting Rome for the first time, you will most certainly be visiting the Vatican, and if it's high season, you will be in dire need of a gelato stop after weathering the crowds of people and long lines, all in 90 degree heat. The area around the Vatican is packed with gelaterie, but most of them sell processed gelato that spills over its containers (see my note on "puffiness" above) with overly bright colors. Take just a short walk away from the Vatican however and you'll find Gelateria dei Gracchi, an exception to the tourist attraction rule that offers the real stuff. My favorite gelato flavors here are the pinoli (pine nut) gelato paired with dark chocolate. Bonus: Gelateria dei Gracchi also makes delicious frozen cakes and other gelato based desserts that you can try out or purchase for your next dinner party. Mmmm. 
Address: Via dei Gracchi 272 (Prati neighborhood)
Hours: 12:00-midnight
Website: www.gelateriadeigracchi.it

    Chocolate and pistachio meringue gelato at Gelateria dei Gracchi

4. Gelateria Retrò

Located right near the Baldo degli Ubaldi metro stop (A Line, Gelateria Retrò is definitely worth adding to your itinerary while in Rome (just 3 metro stops from the Vatican!) Retrò is run and owned by gelataio Emanuele Montana, whose passion for gelato is contagious. On one of our visits to the gelateria we found him taking freshly toasted pistachios out of the oven to start another batch of pistachio gelato, which  led him to (very enthusiastically) explain the importance of toasting the nuts before incorporating them into the gelato base. While all of the gelato here is fantastic, my votes go to apple and cinnamon, coconut, and of course pistachio. Bonus: in addition to making delicious gelato, Retrò also makes fabulous granita, a Sicilian frozen dessert that is a cross between a sorbet and a slushy. Try the granita al caffe' -- you'll thank me later.  
Address: Via Baldo degli Ubaldi 118
Hours: 12:00-midnight 
Website:  www.gelateriaretro.it

3. Fatamorgana
Perhaps one of the most well known gelaterie in Rome, Fatamorgana is owned by Maria Agnese Spagnulo, the resident gelato expert in Rome who has transformed the gelato scene with her creative flavors -- in other words, if you want to get out of your gelato comfort zone and go beyond chocolate or strawberry, this is the gelateria for you. Fatamorgana is known for its eclectic flavor combinations, such as black cherry and beer, banana and sesame, and chocolate and wasabi. My favorite here is the baklava gelato, which is chock full of honey and almonds, just as it should be. Bonus: Fatamorgana also makes gluten free gelato as well (Maria Agnese herself was diagnosed with celiac disease and has made it her mission to create delicious gluten free gelato). 
AddressFatamorgana has various locations -- find the one nearest to you by clicking here: http://www.gelateriafatamorgana.com/web/contatti.html.
Hours:  12:00-21:30, 12:00-23:30 in the summer
Website: www.gelateriafatamorgana.it

             Chocolate and Baklava gelato with whipped cream
                           More of my favorite baklava gelato

                               Some of the unusual flavors at Fatamorgana


2. Bar Giolitti

Blink and you might miss this gelateria -- on first glance it looks like your average cafe' more suited for your morning cappuccino than anything else. Good thing then that I'm here to tell you that Bar Giolitti (not to be confused with Gelateria Giolitti in Via Uffici del Vicario) is the Testaccio neighborhood's best kept secret. Bar Giolitti was opened in 1914, which guarantees you that by now, they know their stuff (101 years gives you more than enough time to perfect your gelato recipe, no?) The fragola (strawberry) gelato here is exceptional, as is the caf (coffee) gelato, which is not for the faint of heart -- this is pure coffee flavor, worlds away from the sugary versions you will find in the U.S, where the coffee flavor is an afterthought. Note that you must choose your gelato flavors here carefully -- the owners are known to deny you your gelato if you do not choose gelati that pair well together (example: pistachio and chocolate, yes, melon and coffee, no). Bonus: This gelateria is right near Rome's Pyramid of Cestius.
Address: Via Amerigo Vespucci 35 (Testaccio neighborhood)
Hours: 8:00-22:00


1. Lattoteca Elvirina

Ahh, Lattoteca Elvirina. I will eventually have to write a whole post about this place, as it really is one of my favorite spots in Rome. A bit of background: Lattoteca Elvirina sells only latticini, or dairy products, which are made from the milk of their own cows, whose photos are framed on the wall. (Not surprisingly, they seem like very happy cows). I could go on and on about how divine their homemade butter is, how fabulous their ricotta is, how perfect their yogurt is, and of course, how downright delicious their gelato is. I have most definitely saved the best for last for this post -- this is hands down the best gelato I've ever had. The texture is beyond smooth and creamy, thanks to the high quality milk they use. The flavor of the gelato itself is pure, and tastes exactly as it should -- there are no distractions. The pistachio gelato tastes exactly like a pistachio, the strawberry tastes like a freshly picked strawberry, and the chocolate is deep, rich, cocoa. In addition to dreamy gelato, there is Lattoteca Elvirina's freshly whipped cream to top it all of, which is a fluffy cloud perfection that makes every bite heavenly. The last time I brought their gelato to a dinner party for friends, there were about 2 whole minutes of silence as everyone tried to wrap their minds around the deliciousness of what they were eating. Note that Lattoteca Elvirina is technically not a gelateria, so their flavors tend to be on the simpler side -- you won't find anything too unusual here (just something to keep in mind if you're looking for creativity). Bonus: This gelateria is a two minute walk from my apartment. A bonus for me anyways :) 
Address: Viale degli Ammiragli 100 (Prati neighborhood, not far from the metro Cipro).
Hours: 13:00-22:00


Pistachio, strawberry, and chocolate gelato (to go) at Lattoteca Elvirina

 Chocolate and vanilla gelato at Lattoteca Elvirina (topped with fresh whipped cream obviously)


To finish off the list, a few other gelaterie that guarantee excellent gelato:

La Romana, Via Ostiense 48
Fiordiluna, Via della Lungaretta 96
Gelateria del Teatro, Via dei Coronari 65/66
Gelateria di San Crispino, Via della Panetteria 42