A good gelateria is difficult to select if you do not know what to look for. Here are 3 tips to finding which gelateria the locals frequent in Italy. This is still valuable advice if you have gelaterias where you live outside Italy.
An artisan gelateria usually says “artiginale” which means “artisan”. It may also have written “produzione propria” meaning “homemade”. Another good sign is one which says “latte biologico” meaning “organic milk” (as an ingredient in the gelato). They may also write what year the gelateria was founded in (the older, generally the better).
Scrutinize the gelato. The number of flavours of gelato at a good place are normally limited. Traditionally this was about 7 flavours but nowadays may be up to 20-30. This is not always the case but the fewer number of flavours of gelato, usually the better.
The gelato itself should not be heaped in a mountain but have only a partial container of each flavour. This is a good indication that the gelato is being made fresh regularly.
The gelato should not be fluorescent or brightly coloured. This means there is food colouring being used.
The gelato should not have lots of decoration on top. It may have some decoration but should not be over done.
A good gelateria does not need to sell anything other than their gelato. They don’t need fluorescent lights, music, different cutely decorated frozen desserts, towers of overly decorated ice cream cones and candies and syrups for toppings. The good gelaterias are usually more minimalist in decoration and therefore overseen by those not in the know. A good gelateria does not look like a disco.
Now you are a gelato cognoscenti, next time you are in Italy you will know where the locals go.
Bonus tip: Often you pay for the size of gelato first (the larger the size the more flavours allowed). Then you can ask to taste the gelato flavours before you decide what you are going to buy.