Pastel shades, sweet-as-sugar scoops and toppings of sprinkles, sauces and classic flakes – there’s nothing quite so nostalgic in summer as scoffing an ice cream. London’s best parlours offer an eclectic choice for gelato seekers during the summer months, from old-school Italians to cutting-edge innovators, with plenty of outlandish flavours along the way.
Marine Ices, Chalk Farm
With over 84 year’s experience in the mysterious magic of gelato making, Marine Ices have perfected the alchemy of iced scoops. Established in 1931 by Italian Gaetano Mansi, sun-soaked days in London ensure you’ll be fighting through a crowd to taste the creamy creations from this understated Chalk Farm parlour. Stick to the classics with rich chocolate and delicately sweet vanilla, or tingle your taste buds with roasted pistachio, duche de leche or cinnamon and honey.
61 Chalk Farm Rd NW1 8AN
Snowflake (Various locations across London)
Brave crowds of phone-waving Insta-maniacs salivating over Snowflake’s ‘avalato’ (that’s part ice cream, part avocado to you and me) and you’ll be rewarded with some proper posh gelato that’s worth the effort. With a number of Snowflake ‘boutiques’ across the capital, expect swirled scoops made with organic Jersey milk and flavoured using Italian-sourced ingredients – think Sicilian pistachios and Piedmont hazelnuts. Our top scoop is the crunchy Biscotto gelato on a cone, but for more refined tastes, the luxurious sundaes are equally enticing.
43 Westbourne Grove W2 4UA, 102 Wardour Street W1F 0TP, 400 Oxford Street W1A 1AB, 42-44 Thurloe Street SW7 2LT, 44 Edgware Road W2 2EH
Ruby Violet, Tufnell Park and King’s Cross
Every London food scene has its own Heston Blumenthal. In the London ice cream world, that moniker falls on Ruby Violet. Outrageous flavour combinations abound at this north London spot, with organic scoops of masala chai, purple sweet potato and beetroot with horseradish making it onto the menu in previous years. Small batch, handmade and with a weekly changing menu, there’s no telling what you’ll find in their freezer.
118 Fortess Road NW5 2HL and 3 Wharf Road N1C 4BZ
La Gelateria, Covent Garden
In a city where creativity with desserts often takes the form of a Willy Wonka pile up, the discovery of some originality that doesn’t include half a confectionary shop can be refreshing. Step in Covent Garden’s La Gelatiera. Served best in a traditional tub, their grown-up flavours include rosemary, honey and orange and the earthy porcini chocolate cream. And while there’s plenty of classic favourites amped up a notch or two– think salty caramel and Madagascar vanilla – the simplicity is outshone by perfectly balanced, but whacky blendings of basil and chilli and watercress and lime.
27 New Row, Covent Garden WC2N 4LA
Chin Chin, Camden and Soho
Take an ice cream parlour, dose it up with a touch of gentrification, and your shiny new gelato joint will look something like Chin Chin Ice Cream. That’s not to say the liquid nitrogen-chilled scoops at this Camden Lock establishment aren’t jaw-droppingly good – they just come with a side helping of nostalgia for days when buying a cone didn’t include attempting to pronounce Valrhona Chocolate. But for some cutting-edge excitement in your ice cream escapes, there’s nowhere better than Chin Chin, and we’ll begrudgingly admit that their out-there flavours are some of the best in London. Top of the order is their super-smooth burnt butter caramel scoops, but if the black sesame special is in the freezer, it’s also a must-have.
49-50 Camden Lock Place NW1 8AF and 54 Greek Street W1D 3DS
Gelupo, Soho Mean portions are unheard of inside this Soho joint, so order three scoops at your peril – the results can be gargantuan. Thick, dense and utterly delectable, Gelupo serves up five-star gelato with serious pedigree. A sister establishment to beloved Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo across the road, this airy parlour owes its existence to chef Jason Kennedy. Head down on a hot summer’s day to pick between 10 classic gelato flavours or seasonal sorbets and adventurous alcoholic scoops. Our pick? The blood orange and Campari concoction on offer this summer.
7 Archer Street W1D 7AU
Festok, at Harvey Nichols
Italian gelato giving you brain freeze? Take a trip to Harvey Nichol’s fifth floor for a taste of Lebanese iced treats. Head down quick, because Festok is a summer pop-up at the department store and with exclusivity comes excellence. Offering a more elastic texture than its Mediterranean counterpart, the flavours of this alternative gelato taste like an ode to Levantine produce. Expect pistachio, turmeric, rose and date on the menu. Don’t leave without trying a scoop of achta – a traditional Arabic ice cream made from orchid powder, orange blossom water and mastic.
109-125 Knightsbridge, Belgravia SW1X 7RJ
Cremoloso Gelato, Earlsfield
Boldly stating their mission to be the makers of ‘the best Gelato possible’, there’s an air of adorable enthusiasm around Earlfield’s newest ice cream parlour. And as one of South London’s few contenders for the crown, it’s certainly winning the regional heats. Brilliantly pink pomegranate sorbet, tangy ginger and yoghurt and the unusual flavour of pineapple all share a fridge with more classically decadent offerings of rum and raisin, amaretto and mint choc chip. Just don’t expect a fly-by visit from the new PM – the tongue-in-cheek Brexit mess (a combination of Belgian chocolate, orange zest, cherries, meringue and caramel) might be a little too European in taste for Boris.
383 Garrett Lane. SW18 4SL