From Italian journalists, to American expats, to world travelers, everyone I spoke with seems to have a favorite gelato shop in Rome. For me, one shop in particular made a lasting impression on account of its quaint location, incredibly fresh ingredients, and passionate owner. This is Gelateria del Teatro.
View the video I made right after eating at Gelateria del Teatro!
Just a 5 to 10 minute walk from Piazza Novona down the quintessentially Roman, quiet, and cobble stoned Via dei Coronari, you’ll find Gelateria del Teatro. The shop recently moved from its location tucked in a little alleyway, to a slightly larger space right in front. That’s where I met Stefano Marcotulli, Gelateria del Teatro’s owner, pastry chef, and gelato maker extraordinaire.
Stefano has a contagious passion for what he does; that became immediately clear as soon as we started talking about the shop’s newly added line-up of pastries. He carefully pulled pastry after pastry from the display case and began describing it as best he could in broken English. Occasionally he would say, “moment,” and leave me to consult with an employee on correct Italian to English translations, then return to finish explaining each item with newly found words like “pine nut,” “custard,” or “tart.”
With Stefano excitedly looking on and awaiting my reaction, I tried a rich ball of dark chocolate with a serious kick of rum, a vanilla custard tart topped with strawberry, a piece of tiramisu, and an apple tart topped with pine nuts and cranberries. Each delicious bite made my smile wider, which made Stefano happy.
Next up were the water-based gelati. Stefano dug a little plastic spoon into one of the colorful tubs then handed it to me. I tasted it, my eyes lit up, and that’s when my Gelateria del Teatro obsession began. Stefano happily ran into the kitchen, then emerged proudly holding a melon. As he sat the melon on the counter, he told me that the gelato I just ate was a melon just like this one only a few hours ago. It doesn’t get any more fresh and natural than that!
Stefano takes the ingredients he uses very (very) seriously, only creating flavors when he can get the ingredients he needs in season, and from where in Italy they are produced best at that time. He even uses specially filtered water and buys fresh milk every day.
Speaking of milk, Stefano and I were ready to move on to the final tasting in our Gelateria del Teatro smorgasbord, the cream-based gelati.
I asked Stefano to put a cup together of whatever flavors he though I should try. He took a minute to consider the options, then went to work scooping out a mixture of something creative and something traditional. On the creative side I got rosemary honey lemon and on the traditional side I got the Sicilian almond. I didn’t think it could get any better after the water based gelato, but with one bite of the rosemary honey lemon, I finally understood that dessert euphoria could be achieved on this planet.
Stefano told me that to make this particular flavor he cooks fresh rosemary in fresh milk, adds honey, then uses lemon juice hand squeezed from Amalfi Coast lemons (the best lemons in the world), and finishes it off with lemon zest. For the Sicilian almond flavor, he hand chops the almonds into fine pieces (which you can see and taste) and also uses whole almonds to make his own almond milk for the flavor’s base.
Stefano is truly a man in love with his work, and you can taste that in the pastries and gelato he crafts. And while Rome is full of gelato shops (many of which dish out air-filled, uninspired, and overpriced gelato) Stefano’s Gelateria del Teatro is a shinning, unique, sincere, and refreshing beacon of culinary hope. It’s a place where gelato turns into little cups of art, and merely satisfying your sweet tooth turns into a travel experience to remember.
View Gelateria del Teatro in a larger map
Gelateria del Teatro is located at: Via di San Simone, 70, 00186 Rome, Italy