For ice cream’s sake, get me the real thing


Tastes of Carolina - For ice cream's sake

A real Italian gelato from Mara dei Boschi in Turin 

We all love ice cream and there is nothing better then a scoop of that creamy wonder on a hot summer’s day. But, for good ice cream’s sake, I will now spoil your joy a little by revealing  that what you ate so far it’s probably not the real thing. You will find out:

Why not all ice cream is really artisan
How to tell the good stuff apart
Where to get the real thing

Coming from Italy I see how in recent years many ice cream parlours have had a ingenious makeover: pictures of happy cows, flavours with reassuring names such as “old style cream” and “traditional torrone”  all aim to convey the idea the ice cream you are buying is as artisanal and genuine as you can get.
Unfortunately in 65% of cases the real story is more one of clever marketing and not of real ice cream. Many so called artisan Italian parlour chains such as From, however successful even internationally, use pre made mixes sent by their headquarters to all their franchises. Emulsifiers, stabilisers and cut price ingredients such as the synthetic vanillin instead of real vanilla beans are at the order of the day, even in the most popular operations such as La Romana.
So where to get the real thing? In London I love Gelatorino and Gelupo, the first in Covent Garden and the second in Piccadilly. Clues that their stuff is properly made are:
  • Their ice cream is not displayed in big cloudy mountains but in closed round buckets: however enticing, those impressive displays have something unnatural that prevents the ice cream on top of the bucket from melting.
  • Their flavours are seasonal: strawberries in winter and blood orange in  summer? You’re lucky if the fruit has only been frozen. More likely that the ice cream has been made from powdered ingredients.
  • Watch out for too vivid colours: fluorescent pistachio and blue…blue what? What is naturally bright blue??? Run a mile.
  • Great ice cream makers don’t mind listing their ingredients: this happens more in Italy, still haven’t witnessed such transparency in London…
  • And finally, the spoon never lies: your ice cream should melt quickly once a dollop is stood on the spoon. Also beware of the ‘Excalibur effect’: your spoon should never stick out firmly for too long when stuck in your gelato pile. If so, it’s either really cold outside or some thickeners have been used.

Despairing because you can’t find decent gelato around where you live? Why not check out Blu Top’s ice cream making classes? Richard Makin makes and sells his own delicious ice cream sandwiches out of a van in London and holds eye opening classes on how to make the best ice cream…it’s slightly different from Italian style gelato, but tasty all the same.

Travelling to Italy and want the sample the best? Check out my city by city shortlist, starting from my beloved hometown.
Happy summer and…happy slurping!


  • Mara dei Boschi – via Berthollet 30, Torino
  • Gelateria Popolare – via Borgo Dora 3, Torino (Also in Loano, on the riviera – piazza Palestro 7, Loano (Savona)
  • Alberto Marchetti – 3 shops in Turin: corso Vittorio Emanuele II 24 bis/via Po 35/via Reggio 4, Torino (then also in Alassio, on the riviera – via XX Settembre, 48, Alassio (SV) – and in Milan – via Montenero 43, Milano)


  • Otaleg – viale dei Colli Portuensi 594, Roma
  • Pico Gelato – Largo XXI Aprile, 1, Roma
  • La Gourmandise – via F. Cavallotti 36/b, Roma
  • Fatamorgana – 7 shops in the capital – via Lago di Lesina 9 (Trieste Salario)| via Leone IV 50 (Prati)| piazza degli Zingari 5 (Monti)| via Roma Libera 11 (Trastevere)| via Laurina 10 (Corso)| via Aosta 3 (Re di Roma)| piazza Filippo Carli 36 (Vigna Stelluti), Roma.
  • Il Pinguino Gelateria Naturale – Via Silvestri 224, Roma


  • Pavè – Via Cesare Battisti 21, Milano
  • Gelato Giusto – via S. Gregorio 17, Milano (Also in New York – 169 9th Avenue, New York)
  • Ciacco Gelato senz’altro – via Spadari 13, Milano (Also in Parma and Bergamo – viale Mentana 91/a, strada Garibaldi 11, Parma / Piazza Matteotti 8, Bergamo.


  • Gelateria della Passera – via dello Sprone 16, Firenze

Health score….well, if it’s as rare as the British sunshine, see it as a treat 🙂



Carolina Stupino

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