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The best ice cream in London

The scoop on the capital's best places for ice creams, sorbets, gelato and soft-serve

Check out our sticky-fingered guide to the best cold stuff in the capital. We've put together a list of top-notch ice-cream parlours serving unforgettable frozen cones, scoops, ice lollies and ice-cream sandwiches. Think we've missed a great London ice-cream parlour? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.

The best ice cream in central London

Gelatorino

What’s the vibe? Like mama used to make. The gelato at this cute café near the Royal Opera House is churned fresh every day in machines from Italy, kept in traditional lidded pots at the counter and served with a spatula – it’s so super-smooth there’s no need for a scoop. The flavours, too, are unashamedly old-school, and all the better for it: the nougat, panettone and gianduja are exceptional.

Signature scoop: Biscotti. You’ll never look at the plastic-wrapped ones that come with your coffee in the same way again.

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Covent Garden

Gelupo

What’s the vibe? Jacob Kenedy’s gelateria, just across Archer Street from big brother Bocca di Lupo, is the one to beat. It’s tiny and draws a cool crowd around the clock, but standing in line next to the freezer-cabinets of ice-cream cakes is no great hardship. The flavours are quirky but grown-up – fresh mint stracciatella, blood-orange sorbet and ricotta and sour cherry. If the queue defeats you, head over to Vico on Cambridge Circus, now home to a Gelupo concession.

Signature scoop: Tiramisu. Go for a three-scoop tub if you’re hungry.

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Soho

Lick

What’s the vibe? Grab-and-go. This no-frills joint at the top of Greek Street doesn’t lend itself to lingering, but there’s no nicer way to while away an afternoon than with a cone of its gelato in nearby Soho Square. The billowing tubs are made in the time-honoured way on site from fresh milk and cream, with no nasties. Sorbets are a strong point, too – try the Mediterranean lemon or Sicilian mandarin.

Signature scoop: Get your teeth into Torroncino, made with single-origin almond or hazelnut nougat.

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Soho

Morelli's Gelato

What’s the vibe? A family affair. Morelli’s is a fourth-generation business – great-grandfather Mario apparently brought the cappuccino to Britain – and its tiny jewel of a store in Covent Garden (there’s another in Notting Hill) sparkles. You can get a cone of their gelato to go, but it’s worth sticking around for the sundaes, which come in glorious Italian glassware festooned with swizzle-sticks, whipped cream and wafers. Probably the most fun you can have sitting down.

Signature scoop: Nocciola, made with hazelnuts from Piedmont, topped with hot fudge sauce – customers get through three tonnes of the stuff each year.

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Covent Garden

Scoop

What’s the vibe? Scoop’s flagship in Seven Dials (there are two others, in Soho and South Kensington) is cute and colourful, but it’s the voluptuous tubs of gelato behind the counter that are the real draw. Provenance is the thing here – the milk is the Channel Islands’ finest, the pistachios are from Sicily, and the peppermint extract is flown in from Piedmont. Purists, rejoice.

Signature scoop: Malaga – rum and raisin puts on its Sunday best, courtesy of Chilean sultanas aged in Marsala wine.

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Covent Garden

Yorica

What’s the vibe? Plant-based ice cream? We can take it or leaf it. But the stuff at Yorica, London’s first dairy-, egg-, nut- and gluten-free ice-creamery, is an exception. This Wardour Street newbie feels like a Sydney surf shack, all blonde wood and super-smiley staff. You choose your ice cream – made with rice milk – or vegan frozen yoghurt, top it with fresh fruit, brownie bits or marshmallows, then dig in. And no, it doesn’t count as one of your five a day.

Signature scoop: Beetroot and dark chocolate – not half as scary as it sounds.

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Soho

Amorino

What’s the vibe? This international chain’s best-placed branch is a wafer’s throw from Covent Garden piazza, but there are outposts across the capital, from Chelsea to Camden. The focus is on classic flavours (pistachio, strawberry, Madagascan vanilla), with a couple of more exotic options like coconut and lemongrass in the mix. The Dolmio-day décor could do with an overhaul, but the flower cones, which come with slabs of ice cream in place of petals, are highly photogenic.

Signature scoop: L’Inimitable. If you’ve ever eaten Nutella straight from the jar (and let’s face it, who hasn’t), this will blow your mind.

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Soho

The best ice cream in north London

Blu Top at KERB Camden Market

What’s the vibe? Richard Makin’s ice-cream van, the star attraction at West India Quay, King’s Cross and Druid Street markets, has parked up at KERB’s new street-food collective in Camden. His flavours are the stuff of childhood dreams: think brown toast and jam, root beer and lemon butter meringue. Get them between your cookies of choice, or unadorned in a cup – either way, they’re eye-poppingly good.

Signature scoop: Cop Car: white coffee studded with glazed donut pieces.

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Primrose Hill

Chin Chin Laboratorists

What’s the vibe? World’s best science lab. Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur, Camden Lock’s very own Willy Wonka, broke the mould when he and wife Nyisha started making ice cream with liquid nitrogen back in 2010. Gimmick? Nope: because the custard base gets frozen instantly, the results are gorgeously dense and crystal-free. Toppings – grilled white chocolate, truffled crumble and caramelised pretzels – are appropriately out-there.

Signature scoop: Burnt butter caramel. Try it sandwiched between two of their extra-chewy brownies.

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Camden Town

Paul A Young Fine Chocolates

What’s the vibe? Chocolatier Paul takes the sweet stuff seriously, so when he decided to start selling ice cream in his Camden Passage shop, he called in the experts. East London’s punny gelato wizards Hackney Lick make three flavours for him, using the same top-notch ingredients that go into the truffles. Ask for all of the toppings: cocoa nibs, dark chocolate pearls and hot chocolate sauce.

Signature scoop: 64 percent Madagascan dark chocolate and sea-salt caramel – a homage to Paul’s bestseller.

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Angel

Ruby Violet

What’s the vibe? A twinkling gem on Tufnell Park’s main thoroughfare, Ruby Violet is decked out with vintage tiles and furniture. Flavours tend towards the weird and wonderful (Seville orange marmalade, liquorice with blackcurrant ripple), but less adventurous tastes are amply catered for too. Not on the Northern line? There’s an offshoot in Granary Square, just behind King’s Cross station.

Signature scoop: Elderflower and Prosecco sorbet – summer, licked.

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Kentish Town

Udderlicious

What’s the vibe? This is easily the jolliest place on Upper Street. Decked out with bunting and swing-seats, it has a devoted local following – customers can suggest a Flavour of the Month, and the person responsible for the winning one gets a free scoop every day for four weeks. They’ve just opened a second branch in Seven Dials, too.

Signature scoop: Espresso and chocolate biscotti. You could almost get away with having it for breakfast.

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Marine Ices

What’s the vibe? Chalk Farm may be miles from the seaside, but this place lives up to its name – if it doesn’t put you in a holiday mood, nothing will. Marine Ices has been scooping since 1931, moving out of its original premises on Haverstock Hill in 2014 to a new and improved parlour with a retro look. Malted milk, coconut ruffle and tutti frutti give the menu a Famous Five feel, and the staff are all smiles.

Signature scoop: Cappuccino hits the spot on a hot day.

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Chalk Farm

The best ice cream in east London

La Gelatiera

What’s the vibe? If putting a smile on people’s faces was an Olympic sport, La Gelatiera would definitely go home with a gold. Their new opening in E20 is a more sociable spot than the Covent Garden original, with a ‘theatre’ where you can watch the gelato being made. They switch the menu up daily, but the 90-odd flavours on rotation (extra-dark chocolate sorbet with Calabrian chilli, Sicilian pistachio, pineapple and fresh mint) are all intriguing.

Signature scoop: Honey, rosemary and orange zest. Like eating a Mediterranean garden (in a good way).

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Stratford

Nonna's Gelato at Broadway Market

What’s the vibe? This vintage bicycle with a freezer on the back is a firm Broadway Market favourite (keep an eye out for it at Spitalfields and One New Change, too). Nonna’s is named after founder Sophia’s Italian grandmother, and the menu, which changes weekly, blends Continental techniques with best-of-Blighty ingredients; give the Kentish cobnut, salted toffee apple or Eton mess a go.

Signature scoop: Blackberry and vanilla crumble – better than the real thing, to be honest.

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South Hackney

Pâtisserie Valerie

What’s the vibe? You’d think Shoreditch would be packed with small-batch, artisan ice-cream parlours – but for now, you’ll have to head over to Spitalfields to get your fix. Patisserie Valerie’s eastern outpost has a choice of 20-odd gelati, sorbets and frozen yoghurts, with nothing to frighten the horses (although they used to do a terrifying banana one the colour of Facebook). The terrace is a real sun-trap in the summer.

Signature scoop: You can’t go wrong with double chocolate.

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Spitalfields

Soft Serve Society

What’s the vibe? A hipper Mr Whippy. Boxpark’s brand new dessert bar, which feels like a cross between a skate shop and a Tokyo tea-house, has reinvented soft-serve ice cream for the Snapchat generation. Really, though, it’s just a backdrop for toppings – the photogenic likes of blue bubblegum crunch, smashed Pocky biscuits and Oreo gravel are arranged in petri-dishes on the counter ready for sprinkling.

Signature scoop: Matcha-vanilla with a popcorn shell. When you’re going to spend at least five minutes snapping your sundae, structural integrity is key.

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Shoreditch

The best ice cream in south London

Gelateria 3bis

What’s the vibe? Funny name, seriously good ice cream. In the heart of Borough Market, white-tiled 3Bis (the postcode of Italy’s first ice-cream factory, apparently) has a playful feel, with cabinets full of chocolate-splattered lollies and a whirring gelato machine that churns it in front of you. As in the rest of the market, quality doesn’t come cheap – a large cone won’t leave you with change from a fiver, but it’s totally worth it.

Signature scoop: Pretty-as-a-picture pistachio.

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South Bank

Gelateria Danieli

What’s the vibe? Peering into the chiller cabinet at Danieli, you feel a bit like a latter-day Howard Carter stumbling across Tutankhamun’s treasures. Richmond Green’s much-loved parlour serves gelato that’s truly a wonder to behold. Chocolate is a speciality, paired with everything from chilli to praline and Earl Grey tea. Happily, the sorbets don’t play second fiddle – try the pear or wild strawberry. A tiny outpost opened in Covent Garden in 2012.

Signature scoop: Banana and salted peanut. Caramel, we’re done.

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Richmond

Greedy Goat at Borough Market

What’s the vibe? The clue’s in the name. This Borough Market stalwart sells lick-and-go cones and cups full of ice cream made by four friends from the milk of goats on a small farm in Essex. It’s lactose-free and naturally lower in calories than cow’s milk ice cream – but even if #clean anything gets your, um, goat, you’ll be back for seconds.

Signature scoop: Billy Vanilli (no kidding).

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South Bank

Lab G

What’s the vibe? Brixton Village’s Lab G (it stands for Laboratorio Artigianale del Buon Gelato) is nothing much to look at, but the super-friendly staff serve up some of the best ices this side of the Coliseum. Flavours are a mix of the classic (vanilla, tiramisu) and totally cuckoo (anyone for parmesan sorbet?). If you’re lucky there might be freshly baked brioche buns on the counter, ready to be filled with your scoop of choice.

Signature scoop: Pain au chocolat. Why has nobody thought of this before?

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Brixton

La Grotta Ices

What’s the vibe? Kitty Travers’ ice-cream truck has been hailed as Britain’s best, and if you manage to track the tiny three-wheeler down in Bermondsey, you’ll see why. Normally at Spa Terminus market on Saturdays, it dispenses a weekly-changing selection of seasonal frozen treats, with an emphasis on the fruity – think nectarine and lemon verbena sorbet, or kumquat custard ice cream.

Signature scoop: Novello orange choc-ice with cinnamon rye crumb – quite a mouthful, in more ways than one.

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Bermondsey

Scoopsy Daisy at Model Market

What’s the vibe? Fro-yo to go. Scoopsy Daisy’s husband-and-wife duo whip up sweetly flopsy cones of organic frozen yoghurt in their pastel-painted servery at Lewisham’s Model Market on Fridays and Saturdays. Fruit is their thing (nectarine, cherry and raspberry), but keep an eye out for cocoa – we like to dunk one of South East Cakery’s brownies into ours when nobody’s looking.

Signature scoop: Pink-and-white striped strawberry swirl.

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Lewisham

Nardulli

What’s the vibe? On sunny Saturdays the queue for Nardulli stretches most of the way back to Clapham Common tube station. You won’t find any techy whizz-bangery here: just classic gelati (Valrhona chocolate, liquorice, macadamia nut) made the old-fashioned way. There’s a handful of tables, but we’d recommend you give them a miss – get out onto the grass and pretend you’re on (Roman) holiday.

Signature scoop: Fig – the richest, darkest fruit purée swirled into an extra-creamy base. Sorry, where were we?

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Clapham

The best ice cream in west London

Gelato Mio

What’s the vibe? A portal to Portobello, this cheery gelateria makes a great starting point for a stroll. There are 13 staple flavours, plus guest stars (they’ve been known to whip up the odd batch of Vegemite gelato). Can’t choose between a cone or a cup? You don’t have to, thanks to their portable – and edible – wafer baskets. There are branches in King’s Cross, Holland Park, St John's Wood and Fulham, too.

Signature scoop: Amarena: a silky fior di latte base spiked with cherry.

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Holland Park

Ice and Slice

What’s the vibe? A little piece of Florence in Fulham. Café and takeaway Ice and Slice specialises in rectangular pizzas and dense, intensely flavoured gelati. Made daily in tiny batches, these run the gamut from an ultra-creamy salted caramel to cornflake crunch. The take-home tubs are good value, and if slurping is more your style, they’ll blend any two flavours into a bespoke milkshake.

Signature scoop: Aperol spritz – everyone’s favourite aperitif in frozen form.

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Fulham Broadway

Oddono's

What’s the vibe? An oldie, but a goodie. Looks-wise, Oddono’s has nothing on the new generation of bare-brick gelaterias, but there’s still a whiff of Continental chic about it. Maybe it’s all those French mothers who pop in for an affogato after dropping their enfants off at the Lycée Français up the road. Tried-and-trusted flavours like mango, strawberry and coconut will see you right.

Signature scoop: Bacio, named after Italy’s foil-wrapped chocolate-and-hazelnut ‘kisses’.

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South Kensington

Snowflake Gelato

What’s the vibe? This light, bright, faintly space-age parlour has come into its own since Exhibition Road’s pedestrian-friendly revamp; South Kensington is now one of the nicest places in London to stroll with a cup of the cold stuff. There’s an astonishing 50-plus flavours of gelato behind the counter at Snowflake, plus chocolate-dipped mini cones, waffles and crepes. Where to start? We recommend an A to Z approach – kick things off with a scoop of amaretto, apple or almond.

Signature scoop: Snowflake, made to a top-secret recipe.

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Bayswater

Dri Dri Gelato

What’s the vibe? Tucked away in the Chelsea Farmers Market, Dri Dri operates out of the world’s poshest potting shed. The gelato is hidden in covered wells (pozzetti, if we’re getting technical) behind the counter, but the staff are happy for you to sample to your heart’s content before you order. Highlights include their pear and chocolate sorbet, and the seriously boozy tiramisu.

Signature scoop: Chocolate with puffed rice – Coco Pops for grown-ups.

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Chelsea

Find show-stopping ice cream in London

The ten most lickable ice creams in London

Are you tired of eating the same old ice cream, with only the ‘how long to brain-freeze’ game to keep things interesting? What you need is a hand-picked list of the best signature flavours, from the capital’s finest ice-cream makers, so you can spend all summer sampling and judging them for yourself.

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By: Tania Ballantine

Comments

31 comments
glitzybabe
glitzybabe

Oddono's in Chiswick is to die for; as is Bertotti on Hammersmith Grove W6 (another one on Goldhawk Rd W12opened recently).

Amorino SHOULD NOT be on any 'good icecream' list

Gordon W
Gordon W

Have you never tried Creams in Ealing? Its the best ice cream parlour ive ever been to.

Trip Out
Trip Out

Why is Cremeria Vienna on Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park not on this list? Surely THE best ice-cream in London. Although, every time I share that knowledge the queue gets longer, so maybe I should keep quiet.

Superstar Donkey Jockey
Superstar Donkey Jockey Staff Writer

Black Vanilla in Greenwich is awesome. Also sells coffee and alcohol... they promote champagne and ice cream!

paulinewright2
paulinewright2

I'm in the 2014 Eating and Drinking guide in the Ice Cream Parlour section, so can I be added here please. My ice cream comes from the amazing Marine Ices!


Sugar Mountain

Anato C
Anato C

If Gelup and Amorino are among the best ice cream parlours in London...

Baron S
Baron S

Can't fault La Gelatiera's listing, but you missed out the amazing Lab G in Brixton and Marine Ices in Chalk Farm - two of the best places in London and neither of them part of chains, unlike others on this list.

Aamir
Aamir

I actually read this review on Thursday afternoon, and Friday evening after work, thought I'd give your #1 a go, Amorino...If I'm honest, it was nothing special whatsoever, Yes their presentation is nice, but as far as flavour goes, I didn't find it anything special. It's a shame. The wife and I still do prefer Harrod's ice cream Parlour, and also Odonno's (Selfridges Brankch).

Christina
Christina

You did miss the best Gelato so far in London (and we did try a few). Tesoro on Goodge Street close to the Goodge Street Metro. Displayed in typical Italian Possetti the texture and flavour is outstanding! No surprises but true to the original Italian flavours. Addictive and highly recommended!

Anneka
Anneka

Comboco on D'Arblay Street in soho is the best! Awesome flavours with specials every week - the best thing is the smashing toppings concept - just check it out!

Jeshua Alexandre
Jeshua Alexandre

Marine Ices perhaps? Probably one of the oldest and best ice-cream parlours in London.

MJM
MJM

Only 1 place on the east list!!! Try Gelato Royale - Fieldgate Street, next door to Tayyabs. Home made and made good.

Emily
Emily

Hands down BEST gelato in the world is at Snowflake Gelato on Westbourne Grove. I urge you to review it!

Claire
Claire

A new gelato shop has just opened in Hammersmith, it's called Zooba and it's on Shepherd's Bush Road..... The milk belgian chocolate flavour is mind-blowing!

linda
linda

ZAZA@ MELODIA DEL GELATO in Canary Wharf! the only place in London where you find ice cream patisserie....great small "finger food" version of ice cream for dinner parties or kids parties....tredy and elegant ...definately not the usual ice cream place.... have you ever tried campari-orange ice cream? or afrodisiac chocolate and orange???? ...or coffe with fresh cream......? the best ice cream ever......

Sofia
Sofia

I adore the mini cones and other patisserie gelato tha zaza' in canary wharf does. I bought lots of different shapes and flavours for my kids bdays and they loved it as well as the parents! Also, their chocolate, pistacchio and hazelnut are deliciussss, not to mention the typical napolitan "pastiera" flavour, they all have that creamy and velvety texture that only real italian gelato has!

mike
mike

honestly is good place to visit is alittle nice shop in golders green road a proper gelATO TO EAT TO SHOP NAME IS BELLA DEL GELATO GOOD PLACE TO VISIT FOR ICE CREAM AND PANCAKES I HAD A SCOOP OF FERERO ROCHER GELATO WAS FANTASTIC

Jim
Jim

I recently the Dairy Cafe in East Sheen. The ice cream tasted fantastic, apparently all made in the shop. Flavours taste really natural, the strawberry seemed to be full of fruit, vanilla tastes fantastic. Prices seem good value, £1.50 for a generous scoop. They also have home made cakes and good soups etc.

danny
danny

wow wow is a good litle place in golders green road ,a proper italian gelato , the display very presented just top quality i had a belgian waffle with ice cream for 3quid honestly is worth it good crepes and waffles at reasonable price the place is bella del gelato

domenico
domenico

bella del gelato golders green , a warm a nice little traditional italian ice cream parlour with authentic italian flavours ,any time i go there i am just confuse to see what dlavour shall i pick honestly is a good gelateria to vist

Nori
Nori

Just recently opened shop, called BELLA DEL GELATO, it is near to golders green station, it is very cute shop, all interior are so cool, and the ice cream are so wonderful i have never seen such a gorgeous display and presentation. it is home made ice cream and also taste is wonderful and always i find new unique flavour like green tea, chestnut, chill chocolate etc.. you must taste it !!

suzanne
suzanne

theres a reasonably new business near bethnal green tube station i pass on the way to work most days, called the Flava Lounge! Prices are good and the decor is really fun, more your retro american diner experience then a swanky outlet in selfridges, but great for a relaxed family treat i'd say!

mark
mark

there is a funny little shop around the corner from queensway station opposite kensington gardens i dont even know the name of it but it has the best ice cream ive ever tasted, i had pistachio but my girlfriend had the ferrero rocher flavour and it was unbelievable, we crossed the park again to buy another one. the one in holland park is also really good 'mio gelato' but a bit pricey.

ib
ib

there's a new sweet tooth in town...ZAZA' italian gelato ice cream in Canary Wharf Cabot Place. original flavours and Patisserie to go: take away mini ice cream in fancy packaging. a must for gelato lovers!

roberto
roberto

that was a 100%italian gelato is in queens way ice skating i had a visit on the 10march2009,with some freind to do ice skating , but i just feel like i go there to eat gelato ,it does remember me when i go with my parents to sicily to enjoy our summer holiday and grab a scoop of gelato , well done queens ice skating gelato team

Paolo
Paolo

Gelato Mio in Holland Park is my favourite. Authentic Italian ice cream and great atmosphere. Worth checking it out (and now open till 11pm every night!)

Neal Hattersley
Neal Hattersley

On your advice we made it to F&M's Parlour. We had a knickerboker glory and a dusty road sundae. Both were very good indeed and of course at £10+ each they need to be. It was the combination of ingredients that made them, the ice cream itself, which turns out to be Minghella from the Isle of Wight, was a good English example, but not a patch on Danielli (see below). The service at the Parlour was also very English, 12.5% and nothing to show for it.

Neal Hattersley
Neal Hattersley

On a recent trip to Rome we visited the ice cream parlour recommended by TOut, as 'best in Rome' near the Trevi fountain. The product was magnificent, (Ok, we really did go back for seconds and sampled 4 flavours!) but it was very rich. Back in London, We just tried 5 flavours in a Sundae at Gelateria Danieli at Bentalls in Kingston. This was heaven and much more paletable and lower fat. Lots of nuts in the nut flavours. We are both ice cream fans and Danieli is seriously good in store, a contender for No1. I've never understood the fuss about Marine Ices, media hype over substance in my view.

ivan
ivan

scoop is my favourite, i met one of the owners, a truly insired genuine italian, that's what makes gelato icecream unbeatable!