Well, you’ve gotta love our timing. Weeks and weeks of glorious sunshine and we choose now to bring you our rundown of the best ice cream in London. The thing is, with ice cream this good, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Good Italian gelato used to be hard to come by not that long ago, but luckily that’s all changed. There are some fabulous parlours around if you fancy a luscious scoop of bacio (chocolate and hazelnut), fragola (strawberry sorbet) or… basil and chilli?! And of course, London being the London we love, it’s not just the Italians who know how to make decent ice cream.
Ice cream connoisseurs will quite likely point you in the direction of South Ken’s Oddono’s for some of the best Italian gelato in London. Since it opened in 2004, Oddono’s has become a bit of an institution, with additional branches in Whiteleys and Selfridges. Luckily it doesn’t seem to have become a victim of its own success. Coming back after a couple of years, the pistachio ice cream is still one of the best we’ve ever tasted. They serve over a 130 flavours of quality classic Italian ice cream, so you’ll want to come back for seconds and thirds.
Another favourite is the little Italian place, Dri Dri on Portobello Road. Now in its third year, like Oddono’s prides itself on classic home-made Italian ices. For a taste of summer, try the navel orange sorbet; close your eyes and you’ll easily be transported from the bustle of Portobello Road to the sunny Italian Riviera. Other unusual flavours include chocolate and liquorice, and the amaretto is a delight of creamy nutty booziness.
Foubert has been in Chiswick since anyone we know can remember. There’s nothing unusual or quirky about this ice cream parlour, just reliable authentic yummy Italian ice cream in a cosy European café – the queues outside the shop on a hot summer’s day speak for themselves.
For those wanting to escape the frenzy of Westfield, head down Uxbridge Road for a few minutes towards Acton and you’ll come across a nice Italian café called Cafe Tuga selling their own home-made ice cream, made fresh every day in small batches. Wetried the wild cherry which was a delight of fruit and cream and not too sweet. They also do milkshakes and quite a selection of pastries and hot food. A relaxed and friendly place with an old-fashioned European café ambience, which doesn’t break the bank.
It’s bright orange and green, with a plaster-cast cow in the shop window, so you shouldn’t be able to miss it. Gelato Mio is a small Italian chain, opened in 2007 by Italian ice cream lovers Carlos and Simone, who have subsequently opened branches in Holland Park, St John’s Wood, Fulham, Belsize Park and in Chiswick. The staff happily persuaded us to try their cioccolato – which should be any chocolate lover’s dream, and the fragola, amazingly light and moussey with a definite taste of real fresh strawberries.
For the weightwatchers amongst you – fear not! Frozen Yoghurt is a fab, fat (and often) sugar-free alternative to ice cream, and “Fro Yo” places are springing up all over town. We came across a nice little parlour for guilt-free indulgence on Queensway, called Frog. Their mango frozen yoghurt was delish – pure tangy mango flavour! They have a lovely range of toppings, which look so healthy you won’t feel the slightest pang of remorse…
With over 60 flavours of ice cream to choose from, Zaza can be a bit overwhelming after a full-on shopping session at Westfield or Canary Wharf. It’s worth the effort though. All ice-cream is freshly made on the premises and includes an incredible bacia, which is so chocolaty it’s almost more of a chocolate fudge than ice cream and a zuppa inglese (sponge-cake and rum flavoured ice cream) that could easily get you tipsy.
And of course it’s not just the Italians who know how to make good ice cream. Damas Rose on Edgware Road is a small Middle Eastern confectioner with a modest looking ice cream stand outside. Don’t be fooled by the simple shop front! A Syrian friend assured us that it’s easily the best booza al-haleb (Pistachio ice cream) outside of Damascus. The booza is a lot more sticky and gummy than Italian ice cream, flattened into a pancake, then rolled into a long sausage and chopped into small portions. We’re big fans of pistachio ice cream and totally loved this!
Produced daily on the premises in classic old-fashioned metal containers, the flavours on offer here at Gelatorino are true works of art. The secret is their master craftsman Alberto Marchetti, whose expertise in gelato making has won him honours in several Italian national competitions. His handwriting is clearly present in the array of flavours, which tend to lean towards the nutty side of the gelato spectrum. Their Gianduja flavour is a particularly pleasing blend of hazelnuts and ‘super creamy chocolate’, and not to be missed for a real taste of Piedmont. For those who prefer something a little bit fruitier, their sorbets are also excellent, and include fruit pulp in their recipes, making them burst with juicy flavour.
Not so new kids on the block Gelupo are from the same people behind Bocca di Lupo. They make absolutely gorgeous, smooth gelato and fresh sorbets with flavours ranging from the traditional to the not-so traditional. Their blood orange granita made Time Out’s top 100 dishes in London! What we also like about Gelupo is that they’re not afraid to make some more ‘adult’ flavours – and by that we mean they like a bit of booze in their gelato!
If you’re feeling adventurous then you absolutely cannot afford not to try out the ice cream on offer at La Gelateria. They are very experimental when it comes to their ice cream flavours with combinations that include ingredients normally associated with… well anything but desserts! Their flavours change daily (literally – we went back two days in a row and the same flavours weren’t on offer from one day to the next, although there was some overlap) and the more interesting ones (aged balsamic vinegar! Pannetonne and caramelised fennel seeds!) sell out early on.
Chin Chin Laboratories
And finally, we have to mention the amazing Chin Chin Labs who make their incredibly smooth ice cream using liquid nitrogen. They keep the list of flavours on a day short and simple – there’s normally two or three choices such as salted caramel or black cherry liqueur and then you choose some toppings to make it your own! Watching them make it is half the fun but the flavours and textures live up to the spectacle.