Romans are traditionalists, and that philosophy extends even to dessert. All the gelato shops across the city offer pistachio, chocolate, hazelnut, and strawberry, but just one boozy flavor—zabaione, an egg yolk and Marsala wine custard—makes the list of standards. Recently, though, at a small but growing number of artisanal gelaterie, the selection has gotten a spirited makeover.
At Vice, which has several locations, conventional zabaione is enhanced with some super-premium Florio Targa Riserva 1840 Marsala. (Most of its competitors use cheaper wines.) The white chocolate gelati are another delicious choice, with one variety incorporating rum and the other Grand Marnier. The popular flavors at Il Gelato Bistrò near the Vatican include a ricotta, Cointreau, and candied orange zest combo, as well as dark chocolate and rum. There’s even a weekly happy hour held on Fridays, where drinks are served with savory gelati. Port is paired with gorgonzola gelato, champagne with oyster sorbet, and a spiced spritz with sushi and a side of wasabi gelato.
Alcoholic ice creams are also among the featured varieties sold at Gelateria Fatamorgana’s six outposts around Rome. Owner Maria Agnese Spagnuolo is known for her whimsical combinations and her flair for wine- and spirit-spiked gelato. The chain is constantly changing its menu based on the season and her whims, but you might find a rum-and-walnut, a popcorn-and-Campari or a raspberry mojito on the list.
Not only are these fanciful creations a refreshing summer snack, but they are also fairly easy to make at home. Try the Apple, Almond and Cinnamon, Pear and Port, and Punch Paradise gelato recipes from Spagnuolo’s just-released book, Gelati e Salute. Cin cin!
Katie Parla is a Rome-based writer and tour guide, and is the author of the blog Parla Food, the mobile apps Katie Parla’s Rome and Katie Parla’s Istanbul, and the book National Geographic’s Walking Rome.