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Mr Porter Eats

Italy’s Best Ice Cream

Allow the UK’s foremost expert on Italian gelato, Mr Jacob Kenedy, to give you the scoop on where to get your frozen fix

  • Pepino, Turin. Photograph by SaltaConmigo.com

Gelato in London means one man, Mr Jacob Kenedy. In 2008, the Cambridge graduate opened a little restaurant, Bocca di Lupo, on a grubby Soho street, which served 20 Italian regional dishes and was described by Mr Giles Coren of The Times as “utterly authentic, unbelievably winning”. It was quickly a vast success, but perhaps his greatest triumph is Gelupo, his gelateria on that same street, which came into being after years of tireless study of Italian gelato. Here, he opens his Italian address book and shares with MR PORTER the places that inspired him – and the places you must visit.

GELATAURO, Bologna

  • Photograph by Ms Robyn Lee

“I’d been looking to learn how to make gelato for years before I opened Bocca di Lupo in 2008. The problem was, few people were willing to help. Then I found out about Gelatauro in Bologna from Faith Willinger, the food oracle and a good friend of mine; her website is probably the best resource for any foodie visiting Italy.

“Faith introduced me to Gianni Figliomeni at Gelatauro, who welcomed me with open arms. His work and ethos are the inspiration behind my gelateria. He is a quiet, humble man who puts his art first, and his gelati are subtle symphonies to Italy, joy and the ingredients that go into them. His sorbets exalt the flavours and textures of the hand-selected fruit he uses in them. The branding and the art in his little out-of-the-way shop are all by his wife, Angela Lorenz. If there is one place to come and eat and learn about gelati and Italy, it is here.”

What to order: cioccolato all’arancia (chocolate orange) gelato

Carabè, Florence

  • From left: Photograph courtesy of Gelateria Carabè; photograph by Ms Sofie Delauw

“Antonio and Loredana Lisciandro at Carabè make gelati and, more importantly, granite (ice slushes) in the Sicilian style at their Florentine gelateria. In Sicily, gelati and granite brim with local produce – if ever you go, check out Mastrociliegia in Ragusa – figs, ricotta, watermelon, prickly pears, almonds, lemons, mulberries and pistachios.

“Anyone who has experienced the heat of a Florentine summer knows such refreshment is a public service. Just as Gianni at Gelatauro celebrates his fruit in sorbets, here their perfume and flavours are distilled into a slushy cup, and some even come with a naughty kick – the ‘after-hours’ granite make for exceptional aperitivi.”

What to order: bacio gelato (chocolate and hazlenuts)

Gelateria La Sorbettiera, Florence

  • Photographs by Ms Sofie Delauw

“This little gelateria serves gelato that is punchy, intense and balanced. Its chocolate gelato is so black it’s called catrame (tar) and is almost thick enough to use on the road, though to do so would be a crime against gastronomy.

“Gelateria La Sorbettiera works especially well with herbs, spices and citrus, so honey and ginger, lemon and basil, lemon and sage are all popular at this small gelateria, which is on a charming square just south of the Arno, and a few minutes from Piazza Santo Spirito. It is off the well-trodden tourist trail but not so far as to be inconvenient.”

What to order: catrame chocolate gelato

PEPINO, Turin

  • Photograph by Ms Valentina Barone

“Turin is much underappreciated by tourists, but this beautiful northern Italian city has some real gems – trattorie, restaurants, cafés and one hell of a gelateria in Pepino. It’s been there since 1884, and is full of history. Some places lose their zing with time, others become temples to gastronomy – not Pepino, though. It is a living, working gelateria, the finest in Turin, and possibly the finest north of Bologna or south of Gelupo. Its façade and interior are noble and imposing – like the grand cafés of Vienna and Naples.

“We all owe it a favour, too. In 1939, with patent number 58033, it invented the world’s first chocolate-covered gelato on a stick – the Pinguino (penguin), also the world’s first portion ice cream sold in a packet. It is the forefather of most ice cream sold today, of anything you might find in a newsagent’s freezer, ice cream van or beachside shack. But at Pepino, it’s the real deal: dense gelato shrouded in bittersweet chocolate.”

What to order: the Pinguino 

SAN CRISPINO, Rome

  • From left: Photograph by Ms Keane Li; photograph by Ms Vicky Klieber

“The further south you go in Italy, generally the lighter and sweeter the indigenous gelati become – a necessity because of the summer heat. In the north, on the other hand, they tend towards the richer and creamier styles, which are better suited to a land of dairy fields and cooler climes.

San Crispino, Rome’s finest gelateria, follows the northern style, using plenty of cream. It also has an uncompromising approach to sourcing ingredients. Its sorbets use the finest, purest fruits, such as Isabella grapes and wild strawberries. The gelati, on the other hand, use obscenely fine produce – Rhum Clément in the chocolate, Marco de Bartoli marsala in the zabaione.

“They take their craft rather seriously here, but not so seriously that they declined a spot at Fiumicino airport in terminal 1, so eat your first San Crispino by the Pantheon, and remember the experience again as you wait to board your flight home.”

What to order: zabaglione gelato

When in Rome…

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