I spent five days this week in Florence, Rome and Pisa. Here are some quick notes, firstly about the gelateria in Florence
I know I am going to get a good kicking on this board but I must say Vivoli was excellent. I had the coffee ice cream and hazelnut mousse ice cream. The coffee ice cream was like the next stage after espresso and iced coffee. They were exemplary ice creams.
Vestri was also excellent. They clearly make all their ice creams from scratch every morning. They are a chocolate shop/gelateria and only have about 12 flavours. The chocolate ice cream was at least Berthillon standard. I find it hard to believe that the gelaterias in Rome and Florence that have 50+ flavours make them all new each day but I dont know.
Carrabe in Florence is one I read about beforehand.I tried pistachio, almond and fig flavours. While the ingredients were clearly of a high quality, I didnt enjoy these as much. Bandiani is celebrated. I tried the special flavour Buonalenti. I think it tasted of Complan (a milk powder formula meal substitute). I wasnt impressed! Bandiani has its fans but unless you are actually visiting all the big name gelateria you can leave it out- it is quite out of the way and the likes of Vivoli are at least as good.
Bear in mind I have only tasted a few ice creams- you can easily disregard my comments!
In Rome I tried gelatos at Giolotti (marrons glace and cassata sicilian), Dalla Palma (pistachio) and San Crispino (San Crispino flavour and one I have forgotten).
I found the San Crispino gelatos much firmer than the other places I tried, and the forearm strength the servers require to push them into the cups they could retrain as professional arm wrestlers if San Crispino went under. They are a more serious (somber?!) operation really, not one of the highlights but I would try again. Giolotti I really liked. Dalla Palma was also nice but Giolotti was my choice in Rome, based on my limited survey. I also tried Millenium (near the Vatican Museum) which was competent.
I found the sorbets the gelaterias serve to be much more like ice creams than French sorbets. I dont know what others think Also at one or two gelaterias I saw ingredients listed. It wasnt really an egg- based custard formula, completely different, even vegetable fats were used. These may not have been the best gelaterias but I find it easy to believe that the recipe is completely different to French ice cream.
Anyway I like Italian gelatos bountiful and excellent (and cheap!).
Bottega al Gelato in Pisa was very good. I had pistachio and fruits of the forest.
To move on
At Osteria del Calivieri in Pisa I had a linguine and porcini dish. It appeared that the water the pasta was cooked in was a component of the sauce. If this is true it coincides with my reading about this method of making pasta sauces in an article by Bill Bufford in New Yorker (recent Food issue). I hadnt thought of this before!
I had tonnarelli (thick long square pasta strands) with goats cheese and black pepper at DiTrambo in Rome. The goats cheese taste was very mild. A nice dish. Also in Rome Di Baffeto pizzeria serves its bruschetta with a garnish of white beans and mushrooms. It is toasted bread with slices of a large tomato, and oil, on top. Simple and nice. The pizzas there I also liked a lot. I had two Margheritas.
In Florence I went to (Da) Il Latina but when I turned up at around seven there was a large crowd outside and they were calling some of them in. Wasnt quite sure what was going on the lesson may be to book if you want to go. Il Pizzauolo do make Neapolitan style pizzas. On this trip I preferred Di Baffettos pizza. I like the doughnuts at Gilli café, the cream filling being the slight downfall. The titbits on the bar at Gilli are concentrated in one section, there is quite a selection but not many people can get to them!