We consider ourselves something of gelato experts, after many years of American and international experience. When we were in Florence this summer, we had gelato at least once a day, trying samples from all over the city. After four days of trials, we settled upon one gelateria in Florence that was head and shoulders above the rest: Gelateria La Sorbettiera. Gelateria La Sorbettiera’s principal location is at Piazza T. Tasso, 11/r – 50124, a little off the tourist track, on the southern bank of the Arno river, which bisects Florence. The store is blink and you’ll miss it small, only a small walk up counter on the side of a compact but busy city square ringed with shops and restaurants.
Over time, we have developed a few rules to find the best gelato. The absolute best gelato is usually found in stainless steel tins as it is at La Sorbettiera, meaning you cannot see the gelato itself. While perhaps not as visually appealing, this will insure that the gelato is being stored at relatively even and stable temperatures, meaning the texture will be better preserved. There is some good gelato to be found outside tins, but avoid place that have super whipped-up gelato. The more the gelato is piled up, the worse it will probably be, because there is mostly air! Secondly, some flavors will clue you in to the quality of the gelateria. Our go-to favorite flavors – both for taste and assessment – are pistachio and chocolate (both pictured below, along with caramel). Pistachio in particular, lets you know how skillful the gelato-makers are, since there is a vast difference in flavor and colors between the best quality pistachios and poor quality/artificial flavors or colors (bright green color, in particular, is a bad sign).
Both the chocolate and the pistachio at La Sorbettiera are excellent: creamy and smooth with pure flavors and no artificial colors. The fruit flavors in particular were bursting with flavor – a perfect distillation of fresh fruit. Along with our go-tos, La Sorbettiera has some great, more unusual flavors, including chai, cheesecake, coffee cardamom, and fig; along with old favorites like lemon, hazelnut, and cream (fiore di latte). Beyond the pistachio and chocolate, other flavors we liked there were salted caramel, raspberry, and mascarpone. Of course, the flavor offering will vary by day and season. The prices are very reasonable, and a large cup or cone with 3 flavors is only 3 euros. A small cup is only 2 euros, and 50 cents extra for whipped cream. You can also get the Sicilian specialty of gelato in a warm brioche for only 4 euros. Talk about a decadent way to start (or finish) your day. If you are in Florence and are looking for some delicious gelato beloved by tourists and locals alike, take a trip to La Sorbettiera.