A Gelato crawl through Rome

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Before Julia Roberts and her mile-wide smile dug into a dish of gelato in “Eat Pray Love,” the Italian ice cream already had its share of rabid devotees. After all, the dense, creamy dessert has less milk fat and sugar than our frozen fare. Upscale, artisanal gelaterie have been popping up in Rome for the past decade or so. How to choose? “I look for stainless steel wells, which is the way many of the best store their gelato,” says David Lebovitz, the author of “The Perfect Scoop,” whose eponymous blog includes a tour of his favorite Roman scoop shops. “If you can see it mounded high in containers, it’s possible that it’s made from a mix.”

Nearly every neighborhood features a parlor to get your fix, but the best start would be at Il Gelato di San Crispino, right off the Trevi Fountain. Here, brothers Pasquale and Giuseppe Alongi specialize in the purest of ingredients and tastes not to be overlooked, including fresh walnut and dried fig or the signature Sardinian honey (42 Via della Panetteria; ilgelatodisancrispino.it).

Just steps from the Pantheon, Della Palma (20 Via della Maddalena) offers more than 100 flavors and usually 20 different versions of chocolate — including a white variety called Galak, named for a native candy bar. The nearby tiny, take-out only shop Cremeria Monteforte (22 Via della Rotonda) is known for its fruit gelato and icy chocolate granita, which marries wonderfully with a dollop of panna or whipped cream.

Over in the Prati, Al Settimo Gelo (21 Via Vodice) attracts the more sophisticated palettes with concoctions like a mélange of pistachio, saffron and rosewater, or the sesame with honey and ginger. A bit out of the way but worth the taxi ride for the truly fearless foodie, Greed (97 Via Vestricio Spurinna) offers bizarre flavors like porcini mushroom risotto and pecorino cheese with black pepper. Be sure to greet the mix master and owner Dario Rossi, as he might indulge you with a spoonful of one of his creations in the making.

If you find yourself ambling through the Trastevere, stop by Gelateria alla Scala (51 Via della Scala) where magician Cristian Carlostella mixes up small batches of straightforward but piquant tastes like cinnamon and blackcurrant. Lastly, in the trendy Piazza Navona, the unassuming Gelateria al Teatro (70 Via san Simone) awaits. The pistachio, made with roasted Sicilian nuts, white peach and pear with caramel are standouts. They also serve vegan and non-dairy licks.