If I were stranded on an island anywhere—hot or cold—and I had to choose one food to eat, I would choose ice cream, hands down. Obviously here in the land of gelato, I couldn’t be happier! But until last night one thing was missing: the best gelato in Rome.
For the past couple of weeks our Italian instructor, Rossella, has been telling us that Fassi makes the best gelato in Rome. The Fassi family has been making ice cream in Rome since 1880, so they oughta know what they’re doing by now. We’ve wanted to see what the fuss was about, but the trip to Fassi takes a couple of hours by bus, and we haven’t had time. After dinner last night Michael asked me if I was going to take him to Fassi. I said, “Let’s go!” After all, we were talking about gelato!
So we hopped on a 40 express bus to Termini, transferred to a 105 bus into the Esquilino neighborhood, and got off three stops later just down the street from Fassi, the Palace of Cold. And a palace it was! This place is immense and reminded me of an old-time dance hall, except that it had 50 or so tables full of people eating one thing only: gelato! The back of the store is lined with cases of gelato and other desserts made with gelato. We looked at the overwhelming number of selections, went to the cashier to pay for what we wanted, and took our ticket to the counter.
I chose a cone with a creamy and sinfully rich chocolate and a magnificent creamy, crunchy straccietella (vanilla with chocolate chunks), Michael ordered a nougat and chestnut cone, and we each got a sampietrini, which is a small square of chocolate filled with gelato—coffee in mine and zabaglione in Michael’s. We found a table and ate our gelato, as hundreds of people came into Fassi’s, ate ice cream treats, talked, laughed, and left with a big smile on their face. Joy!
But Michael wasn’t through (and I wouldn’t have been either if I hadn’t been full to the brim), so he went back for a “cassata Giuseppina,” which looked like an ice cream cake with three kinds of gelato and some dried fruit and was served with a cookie on top. Fassi describes this dessert as “cassata-flavored pistachio that Giovanni Fassi dedicated to his wife Josephine.” We had so much fun that we hated to leave.
We agree that this is the best gelato in Rome (so far) and don’t know whether we enjoyed the gelato or the whole experience more. It was an amazing place, and if you love ice cream and are ever in Rome, do not miss it!
Sorry, Cremi (our previous favorite gelateria in Trastevere), you’re now #2.