The Beginners Guide to Gelato

Gelato Guide

If there’s one thing that can make Italy memorable besides pastas and pizzas, it must be their gelato. Gelato shops in Italy are colorful affairs. The array of tubs is filled with pastel colors, shades of browns and crèmes, and bright summer colors. Walking into them and looking at all that gelato can make you really excited – and confused too, especially with the Italian names that can be a complete mystery to some of you.

So here’s a Beginners Guide to decode gelato.

Firstly, gelato is slightly different from ice cream. Ice cream is mainly made from cream and eggs, while gelato recipes usually include egg yolk, more milk and less cream. Gelato is rich and a creamier treat than ice cream, and the good news is that it has less fat than ice cream!

Gelateria [jell-a-ter-EE-a] – gelato shop in Italy.

For The Chocoholics

Cioccolato [cho-koh-LAH-toh] – the basic chocolate flavor.

Cioccolato Fondente [cho-koh-LAH-toh fawn-DEN-the] – dark chocolate. For extreme dark chocolate lovers who love that extra bitter chocolate taste, look out for the Cioccolato Fondente Extra Noir.

Cioccolato al Latte [cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl LAH-tay] – milk chocolate; less bitter, more sweet.

Gianduia [jahn-DOO-yah] – combination of milk chocolate and hazelnut. This is my personal favorite because it tastes like the chocolate Fererro Rocher, and there is no ice cream that has this flavor.

For The Nutties

Pistacchio [pee-STAHK-yoh] – pistachio.

Nocciola [noh-CHO-lah] – pure hazelnut, tastes like Nutella and absolutely love this too.


For The Classic Crème Lovers

Fior di Latte [FYOR dee LAH-tay] – this directly translates to “flower of milk” and it has a
wonderful subtle sweet cream flavor. I like to think of it as the gelato version of vanilla ice cream.

Stracciatella [strah-cha-TEL-lah] – Flor di Latte topped with chocolate chip bits, ie gelato
equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream.

Cocco [KOH-koh] – coconut. Careful to not confuse the name as “chocolate”!

Caffè [kah-FAY] – coffee, with very strong espresso infused to it.

For The Tutti Frutti

The flavors below are sorbetto. They are not gelato by definition, since they do not contain milk. Sorbetti are made of only fruits and water. The high proportion of fruits that is used make sorbetti softer and less icy than regular sorbets.

Fragola [FRAH-go-lah] – strawberry.

Limone [ee-MOH-nay] – lemon.

Mandarino [mahn-dah-REE-noh] – mandarin orange.

Now, even after knowing what each name is, I always still have a hard time deciding what flavor to have and will stand in front of the gelato bar for three minutes before I can make up my mind. But yes, I agree with you that the best part of getting gelato is tasting all the interesting flavors before deciding on one.

About the writer
Anlin Melina is a Business Administration and Economics student at the University of California, Berkeley. She was born in Indonesia, educated in Singapore and is currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She speaks and writes in English, Chinese, Indonesian and French, and likes travelling and writing during her free time. Melina has recently completed writing her first book, titled “Once Upon A Blue Sky”, which is a travel guide book on cities in the United States.