Giada De Laurentiis' Go-To Gelato Order In Italy

Ordering a cup of gelato is one of the great pleasures of visiting Italy. That is — if you can choose a flavor. Staring down a row of deeply pigmented sorbets and melty pastel gelatos, tourists may find themselves overwhelmed by choice.

Thankfully, Italian American food personality Giada De Laurentiis shared her top tastes when visiting the country. "I love espresso, pistachio, and fig and rum, something I started having when I lived in France," De Laurentiis told the New York Times. "They also have a really great walnut, which I know is not everybody's favorite, but I think it's quite delicious."

She enjoys visiting Florence's Gelateria De Neri for her fix, but her go-to orders are available at shops across the country. For home bakers seeking inspiration, the chef's picks offer a wealth of insight into memorable Italian flavor combinations. Or, if you're like us, you're adding her recommendation to the inspiring list of De Laurentiis' favorite food destinations.

Your future go-to flavors

Whether you're planning a trip or taking notes for your next ice cream maker project, you should have flavors outside the usual chocolate and vanilla on your radar. In Italy, nut-based offerings go well beyond the usual green-hued pistachio. Giada De Laurentiis enjoys a scoop of walnut, but many shops offer hazelnut, pinenut, almond, and chestnut, as well.

Adventurous orderers can create pairings by combining the singular flavors, but, when in doubt, ask the experts behind the counter. At De Laurentiis' favorite locale, walnut finds itself in the company of pungent gorgonzola — while a neighboring tempting tub houses the shop's ricotta and fig gelato. Cheese fanatics can mimic these scoops at home with a wedge of gorgonzola and a handful of nuts, or follow De Laurentiis' crostini recipe to hack fig jam for a tasty cheese pairing.

Italian purveyors also concentrate fruit flavors into powerful dairy-free sorbet options that take advantage of seasonal fruit. In the summer, travelers will recognize the tub of deep red strawberry. However, winter travelers should consider tasting a spoonful of grapefruit or bergamot, the intensely perfumed local citrus that gives Earl Grey tea its luxurious scent.

Gelato is ice cream's rich cousin

No, it's not in your head. Gelato really is different from American ice cream in both texture and taste. That's because it's made with more milk, less cream, and little to no egg. And it's churned at a slower rate, which introduces less air into the product and makes it denser.

As for ordering, American and Italian establishments both tend to offer customers the chance to sample. And, as you would at an American shop, you should make your choice after a spoonful or two. Though Giada De Laurentiis' go-to gelato order in Italy doesn't include mention of panna, or whipped cream, gelato shops will usually be happy to add the topping.

For those building an Italy-inspired sundae bar at home, you can test out the savory ingredient De Laurentiis eats with ice cream: olive oil. Gelato shops also serve their frozen treats at warmer temperatures, so make sure to let your pints warm slightly before dishing them out. And don't forget to experiment with combinations outside your comfort zone for the full experience.