The origins of gelato -- Italian ice cream made with less butterfat, a higher density, and served slightly warmer than its American counterpart -- date back to frozen treats made from mountaintop snow and ice in ancient Rome and Egypt.
Thankfully, for those of us in search of the frozen sweet treat, there's no mountain-climbing required, just a trip to one of our favorite gelateries in town. Here's 10 of them:
This upscale, family-owned gelato shop in Fountain Hills -- with a patio facing the city's fountain-showcasing lake -- features natural ingredients and daily-made batches of gelato from collections including traditional, contemporary, exotic, seasonal, and diabetic friendly. Look for flavors like Sicilian pistachio, Cherries Jubilee, chocolate passion fruit -- even kefir, the fermented milk drink. There's also gelato for dogs and cats, should Fluffy or Barky be so inclined.
This family-owned business with locations in Chandler and Gilbert offers a whopping 200 flavors, with 64 of them on display daily. A mix of customer favorites and rotating creations, selections include rich and delicious strawberry cheesecake, chocolate and banana, and fun flavors like Twinkie. Tired of the ol' cup and spoon? Order up specialties like gelato cupcakes, cakes, pies, or have one as a slurp-worthy shake.
This local chain with four locations in Phoenix and Scottdsale (called The G-Spot if pizza is included in the equation) makes more than 20 flavors of gelato using natural ingredients and Italian recipes. Try the decadent chocolate caramel fudge brownie, almond Snickers, or bubblegum, or go old-school with amarena (think a subtly sweet cherry cream).
This cozy gelato parlor and coffee shop in Chandler boasts a small but solid selection of tasty flavors like sea salt caramel, creme brulee, pistachio, and bacio (a chocolate hazelnut combination). In addition to community events, fundraisers, and live music, which happen regularly, the coolest thing about Enzo's might be Enzo himself. Usually tending shop and not shy about conversation, he's a customer favorite.
This small, Tucson-based gelato chain makes its Phoenix home in a chic and frequently packed shop tucked into the outdoor mall at Gilbert's SanTan Village. With flavors courtesy of master gelato chef Nazario Melchionda, who learned the trade (and its secrets) in Italy, more than 35 creamy and rich creations are made fresh daily, including amaretto, peanut butter crunch, and cinnamon apple pie. Sampling is encouraged, and diabetic selections are also available.
Gelato gets heavenly at these two sweet-treat locations in Chandler and Mesa. With equipment from Italy and using premium ingredients, more than 25 standard and seasonal flavors are available daily. Fruit lovers won't want to miss crazy-fresh creations such as watermelon, grapefruit, peach, and a mixed-berry concoction called Fruits of the Forest, made with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.
Since 2004, the Lombardo family has been promoting "Heaven on a Spoon!" and for gelato aficionados, the Lombardos' phenomenal, creamy creations are just that. With locations at the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe and Metrocenter mall in Phoenix (Mesa's Il Vinaio Restaurant also offers a Lombardo gelato tasting plate), a rotating menu of fresh aristan flavors like almond chocolate wafer, rosemary chocolate, and horchata are worth popping in for.
Sisters Cristina and Paola Marrazzo grew up making (and eating) gelato in Milano, Italy, before bringing their artisan know-how to their two shops in Scottsdale. Not ones for a limited selection, the Marrazzos offer more than 35 top-notch flavors to choose from, including chocolate chili pepper, malaga (rum raisin), pannacotta, stracciatella (the Italian gelato equivalent of chocolate chip ice cream), and whiskey cream.
Before leaving Italy for the Valley, Walter Bergamaschi and Marti Printy attended Gelato University near Bologna and apprenticed in two different shops before bringing their expertise in Italian gelato to storefronts in Mesa and Gilbert. With premium ingredients and a penchant for experimentation, a constantly changing menu includes classic, seasonal, and non-traditional flavors such as Gorgonzola and walnut, orange with Grand Mariner, and Moroccan chocolate.
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Courtesy of husband-and-wife team Alberto della Casa and Letizia de Lucia, this gelato gem tucked into the Scottsdale Mall features the couple's artisanal Italian recipes made with the help of one of Italy's top gelatieri, or gelato artisans. With 20 varieties -- think cherry bon, creme caramel, and biscotto (cookie) -- made onsite daily and using fresh and seasonal ingredients, every bite is creamy yet dense, and no less than luscious.
All our favorites lists also are available on our Best Of app -- see it in action here. And check out our other lists: 10 Favorite Gelato Spots 10 Favorite Burrito Joints in Metro Phoenix 10 Favorite Spots for Wings in Metro Phoenix 11 Things to Eat and Drink Before You Leave Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Hot Sauces and Salsas Top Ten Spots for Mac 'n' Cheese in the Valley Three Favorite Espresso Shots in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Farmers' Markets Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Eleven Favorite Favorite Places for Sushi in the Valley Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Cupcakes Eleven Favorite Barbecue Joints in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Wine Bars Ten Favorite Phoenix Irish Restaurant & Pubs Six Favorite Specialty Cocktails in Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Craft Beer Bars Ten Favorite Gourmet Pizza Shops in the Valley Five Favorite Japanese Restaurants in Phoenix Ten Favorite Margaritas in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Coffee Shops in Phoenix Five Favorite Thai Restaurants in Metro Phoenix Eleven Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Happy Hours Five Favorite Sonoran Dogs in the Valley Ten Favorite Hot Dogs in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Desserts in Phoenix Ten Favorite First Date Restaurants Ten Favorite Burgers in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Downtown Phoenix Restaurants for Late Night Dining Ten Favorite Vegetarian Entrees in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Greater Phoenix