The Chocolates- (Yes - there are many different chocolate flavors in Italy!)
- cioccolato fondente (cho-koh-LAH-toh fawn-DEN-teh) – Dark chocolate lovers, this is the label to look for. And if you see cioccolato fondente extra noir, I think you’ll understand that we’re talking about the darkest of the dark chocolates here. Dark chocolate haters (what’s wrong with you?!?), look for cioccolato al latte (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl LAH-tay), or milk chocolate.
- bacio (BAH-cho) – Named for the famous chocolate candies that come from Perugia, this is a chocolate hazelnut combination not unlike Nutella (which is another common gelato flavor), often with bits of hazelnuts in the mix.
- gianduja or gianduia (jahn-DOO-yah) – Either way it’s spelled, it means the same thing – a creamy combination of milk chocolate and hazelnut. This flavor comes primarily from the Piedmont region, but it can be found throughout Italy.
- cioccolato all’arancia (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl-ah-RAHN-cha) – This is chocolate orange, and is a personal favorite. It’s most often a dark chocolate, not a milk chocolate, and may have either just an orange flavor or may also include candied bits of orange peel.
- cioccolato con peperoncini (cho-koh-LAH-toh kohn pep-pehr-ohn-CHEE-nee) – Another trendy chocolate addition, besides orange, is pepper – and this is often how you’ll see it on the flavor placards. It’s basically a hot pepper infused chocolate (usually dark chocolate), and can vary in terms of heat. A friend also reports having seencioccolato all’azteca (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl-az-TEH-kah), which had both cinnamon and hot pepper.
- pistacchio (pee-STAHK-yoh) – I’m not going to define this one, because if you read English you’ll know what it is. The important thing here it to learn that the “ch” in the middle of this word has a “k” sound (not an “sh” sound). Also good to know – it’s a very popular flavor.
- mandorla (mahn-DOOR-lah) – Almond
- nocciola (noh-CHO-lah) – This is hazelnut all by itself (not combined with chocolate, as listed above).
- castagna (kahs-TAHN-yah) – This is chestnut, and isn’t nearly as common as some of the other nut flavors. It could be a seasonal specialty, I’m not sure.
Here’s a flavor tip – if your first flavor choice is something particularly strong or difficult to match with something else, getting a cream flavor for a second scoop is a good option because it generally won’t fight with the first flavor, but will add a muted backdrop.
- fior di latte (FYOR dee LAH-tay) – Perhaps the base flavor for all cream (or even chocolate) flavors, this is literally “flower of milk” and it’s a wonderfully subtle sweet cream flavor. Some people I know think it’s boring, but I adore it.
- crema (KREH-mah) – This is a kind of egg custard flavor, and shouldn’t be confused with vanilla.
- zabaione (zah-bah-YOH-nay) – This is based on a dessert of the same name, made from (among other things) egg yolks and sweet Marsala wine. So it’s an eggy and custardy flavor, with an overtone of Marsala.
- cocco (KOH-koh) – Coconut
- caffè (kah-FAY) – Just in case you aren’t getting enough coffee flavor in your daily morning espresso, here’s the gelato version.
- amarena (ah-mah-RAY-nah) – Though it has fruit in it, it’s a cream base, so I’m sticking it in this category. This is another personal favorite – it’s basically fior di latte with a sauce of sour cherries kind of mixed in. The cherries have been stewed in something, and I have no idea what it is, but they’re chewy and delicious, and you’re likely to get at least one whole cherry (without the pit, of course) in your scoop.
Technically, these aren’t really considered gelati – instead, they’re sorbetti (sorbetto in the singular) because they’re made without milk. The fruit flavors are some of my favorites – they’re so intense, you’ll be amazed at how like the real thing they taste.
- fragola (FRAH-go-lah) – Strawberry
- lampone (lahm-POH-nay) – Raspberry (oh-so good with a dark chocolate flavor)
- limone (lee-MOH-nay) – Lemon (lime is really rare, but it’s lime, or LEE-may)
- mandarino (mahn-dah-REE-noh) – Mandarin orange
- melone (meh-LOH-nay) – Melon (usually cantaloupe)
- albicocca (al-bee-KOH-kah) – Apricot
- fico (FEE-koh) – Fig
- tarocco (tah-ROH-koh) – Blood orange (not very common)
- frutti di bosco (FROO-tee dee BOHS-koh) – These aren’t fruits belonging to some guy named Bosco, this means “fruits of the forest,” generally things like blueberries and blackberries.
- mela (MEH-lah) – Apple (also look for mela verde (MEH-lah VEHR-day), or green apple)
- pera (PEH-rah) – This is pear, and one of my favorite fruit flavors. It’s a really subtle flavor, but one of the best features of well-made pear gelato is the texture. You really feel like you’re eating a pear.
- pesca (PEHS-kah) – Peach
- zuppa inglese (TSOO-pah een-GLAY-zay) – Literally this is “English soup,” but it’s referring to that popular English dessert called “trifle.” It’s a custardy flavored base with bits of cookies (instead of sponge cake) and often a sweet wine like madeira or sherry.
- riso (REE-zoh) – This is literally rice, but is more akin to the gelato version of rice pudding. And yes, there are bits of rice in it.
- malaga (mah-LAH-gah) – Rum raisin
- stracciatella (strah-cha-TEL-lah) – If you think of this kind of like the Italian gelato equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream, you’re in the ballpark. It’s a fior di latte base with chocolate bits in it. The chocolate has usually been drizzled over the top of the just-made gelato and then mixed in after it’s hardened, so rather than uniform chocolate bits you end up with pieces that look like needles. This is a very common flavor.
- liquirizia (lee-kwee-REE-tzee-ah) – You may have been able to guess this one (it’s licorice), but the pronunciation can be a bit tricky if you’re caught unawares. Personally, I’m a fan of black licorice, so I like this gelato flavor – but it’s one of those flavors that’s nigh to impossible to pair with something else, save for one of the unobtrusive cream flavors listed above.
- cannella (kah-NEL-lah) – This is cinnamon, and although it’s not that common it’s really a delight. It’s not like a super-hot cinnamon, but just a nice representation of the spice. Consider pairing this with fruit flavors like pear or apple, or with chocolate.