Eating gelato is kind of a family sport. On warm summer days—okay, and spring and fall and sometimes even winter days—Diego and I look at each other and say "let's go for ice-cream!". We would then walk to the neighborhood gelateria, have gelato while sitting down (my husband thinks it's sacrilegious to eat ice-cream and walk at the same time), then walk back home.
But then my husband had a falling out with our local gelateria. Without going into it, they offended Diego’s financial sensibilities, and we haven't been back since (together, that is; I still go when he’s not around). It’s a shame…it was so convenient to go there.
The bright side of this situation is that it meant that we got to embark on a citywide search for the best gelateria in town. Friends, knowing how much we like gelato, sent us lists. We read articles, in both English and Italian, about the best gelaterias in Milan. And then we went and tried them ALL!
Thank God for gelato research!
Disclaimer: This was not a very scientific study. That would have involved a blind tasting of various products at the same time, over a period of months, all while ensuring that we procured the product at the same time, storing them all at the same temperature in advance of the tasting, etc, etc.
Anyways, this what we came up with in alphabetical order, with the neighborhood you can find it in.
One of our really dear friends lives ridiculously close to Artico, so it’s our go-to stop when visiting him. Like all other gelato shops on this list, Artico produces an excellent product that is 100% natural, free of preservatives and artificial colors. After over 30 years in the gelato-making business, they have experience that you can taste. They even offer gelato-making classes now!
Gelateria della Musica. Navigli etc.
The original location of Gelateria della Musica is just off the Naviglio Grande going towards the outskirts of town. Even though they’ve opened several locations around Milan, you can still frequently find a line halfway around the block the original shop with people waiting to get a few scoops of this frozen treat. This gelato shop is known for its superbly creamy gelato (creamier than most gelato) as well as their ability to successfully produce unique combinations. Some of their signature “different” flavors: basil and lemon, and bread and jam.
I Gelati di Nanina. Washington
This gelateria in an ultra-residential neighborhood of Milan, personifies a mom-and-pop store, even though it’s run by two women: Daniela and Donatella. They decided to open a store that dealt with only the best quality products: pistachios from Bronte, Piedmont hazelnuts, walnuts from Sorrento, and Sicilian almonds. You can expect great interpretations of the classics like chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, walnut and Sicilian cassata gelato. They also do great “new flavors” like piña colada and chocolate and black cherry.
Gelato Giusto. Buenos Aires
This is what happens when a woman who has worked with some of the most renowned pastry shops and chocolatiers in the world decides to open a gelateria. Vittoria’s gelato is produced fresh each and every day. I think it goes without saying that they are made with only natural ingredients, high-quality milk and cream, and seasonal fruits. During the colder months, you can also stop by Gelato Giusto for some chocolate treats.
Latte Neve. Navigli
Diego affectionately calls the owner of Latte Neve il maestro, or the master. When we first walked into Latte Neve, il maestro was behind the counter, explaining how he sourced his ingredients. While we waited in line, he even tested his hazelnut gelato, remarking how that batch had changed compared to last week’s. There was a conviction and passion in his eyes; that guaranteed Latte Neve’s spot, in our mind, as one of the best ice-cream shops in Milan.
How would I describe Latte Neve’s gelato? Classic flavors with a twist. He usually has several different types of chocolate ice-creams of various percentages of cocao, originating in various parts of the world. He also has a good selection of diary-free and vegan gelato and sorbets.
Massimo del Gusto. Corso Sempione
Can gelato be upscale? If so, Massimo del Gelato is a great tasting and upscale parlor. It’s not just the Mercedes Benzes and Porsches you’ll find double-parked outside the store. One bite and you can tell that the gelato-maker is obsessed with quality. Their almond and pine nut gelato is like eating nut butter with nut chucks. Their ginger flavored gelato is creamy, sweet and spicy all at once. When in season, their cantaloupe gelato is as if they took the best fruit available at the market, ground it up and then churned it until it was absurdly smooth.
Best Gelato for people with special dietary needs
Il Gelato Ecologico.
While they do sell “traditional” gelato, they also almost certainly have the largest selection of dairy-free, gluten-free, reduced sugar, sugar-free, kosher, and vegan ice cream in Milan. How do they manage to still make great tasting finished product? Their obsession with high-quality ingredients! As one would expect from this type of place, there are no hydrogenated fats, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors.
While I would definitely suggest trying one of the other places on this list, if you want to try a good gelato in Milan (and just about anywhere in Italy, and parts of the US) you can go to Grom—which has numerous locations around the city—and get a better than decent cone or cup.