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Aug 11, 2011 02:00 PM

Another GROM gelato hits the trash can

I am not deliberately trying to provoke a fight or spoil memories, but just today I bought another gelato from GROM (melone) and threw it away. I simply do not understand the reputation of this chain.

A few confessions from me:

Gelato is not a big obsession of mine. I only eat it in hot weather, and only if I am starving and know it will be a long time until I see dinner and no other acceptable food is at hand.

Even when I like gelato, I prefer gelato without eggs or dairy, just for the taste.

When I don't like a gelato instantly and immensely, I toss it because I don't want the extra calories.

GROM is not the only famed gelateria whose cone has ended up in the trash after a few bites. But it is the only one that has ended up in the trash, every time. I am glad that the euros I spent supported, in part, organic farmers. But do people really prefer the taste of GROM gelato?

Why did I persist in eating it? Well, I won't anymore, but it is my habit, when a food is very highly praised, for me not to give up if my first impression is that I don't like it. I try a few more samples, a few more flavors. But I have yet to taste a gelato from GROM that isn't a flop.

GROM gelati have an unusual mouth feel. Is that what makes them popular? Or is this intellectual thing that they can verify the purity of the source of every ingredient down to the tiniest crystal of sugar? There are supermarket gelati I think taste better than GROM, and I know a couple of small individual vendors whose gelati shoot the moon compared with GROM.

GROM lovers are more than welcome to defend their choice, without an argument from me. But I'm posting this because of the possibility of an "Emperor-has-no-clothes" phenomenon. Are there possibly others who ate GROM gelato and thought: "Why?"

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  1. just out of curiousity, what flavor was it? from their website it appears that ALL of their gelato flavors contain dairy or at least are to be avoided by folks with an intolerance.

    I have been very disappointed by their sorbets and granitas. The peach sorbet I had in Milan was the best so far fut it had bits that tasted a little bit brown, if you know what I mean.

    6 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb


      It was melon, and I asked the server ahead of time if i was without eggs or milk, and she assured me it was fruit only, and organic to boot.

      I'm not sure I know what you mean by saying it tasted a "little bit brown" -- ? You mean peach bits that were bruised or mushy/overripe?

      1. re: barberinibee

        so it was really a sorbetto and not gelato at all, right?
        I have actually never eaten their gelato, just the sorbetti and granite and am totally unimpressed with those.
        yes, certain bits of the peach tasted like bruised/oxidized bits. Like when you cut your peach and do not add lemon quickly enough. admittedly, they have a large operation but allowing fruit that is spoiled or oxidized is a flaw. Most of the bites tasted fresh and peachy, however.

        but I would want to hear from the folks who eat the gelato/ice cream before trashing Grom totally, since gelato rather than sorbet is their main claim to fame.

        via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

        1. re: jen kalb

          Around these parts, gelato made without egg or dairy is still gelato, it is not sorbetto. It is a particular point of pride -- and usually a jealously guarded trade secret -- to make fruit gelati that way.

          I don't know how GROM markets its products in the US (or even outside of Genoa), and it may be a local Ligurian quirk that sorbetto is not the term used for frutta flavors that have no milk, cream or eggs.

          1. re: barberinibee

            if you look on Grom's website where they break out food intolerance issue you will see how they break it out themselves. The fruit flavors are listed under sorbetti and dont have any milk or eggs. Here


            I had thought that gelato definitionally is a milk based frozen dessert - although I guess it is shorthanded to cover everything that these places sell

            via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

            1. re: jen kalb

              If you scroll down this link a bit, you will see the menu for the GROM store in Bologna. You can see they don't break out anything as sorbetti, even the frutta flavors they show on their website as being sorbetti.


              Here's a GROM menu from one its branch stores in New York City, and there you see the same stuff as "fruit sorbet"


              I just think Italians don't use the term sorbetti very much. Local gelaterie around here could save themselves a lot of work by labeling their fruit flavors without egg or dairy as sorbetti, but nobody does. Instead, they either put hand-written labels by the flavors in the freezer case, describing the base, or post a big board where they say which flavors have cream, milk, eggs or none of those. You will often see a gelaterie with a sign saying it also sells granite or frullate, but never sorbetti, although almost every gelaterie around here sells plenty of flavors without eggs or milk.

              But it wouldn't surprise me if someone told me the local custom in Naples or Perugia or Matera was different.

              For what its worth, my personal history with GROM gelati was that the first flavors I tried were all flavors I thought a Torino-based gelato maker might do best: coffee, chocolate, hazlenut, gianduja. When a friend gave me a taste of her apricot, I thought it was eggy, so the other day, I decided to ask specifically for a gelato without dairy or eggs. So that was my first (and last) "sorbetto" from GROM.

              1. re: barberinibee

                PS, jen:

                Here is an even more graphic example, since GROM is a chain

                This is the GROM menu of flavors for August in Perugia last year, and it is the same menu of flavors I saw in Genova this week


                Here's GROM's English-language menu for August 2007, NYC


    2. I think I fall into the grom defender category. I wish that I could say that I disliked grom also. The fact that it is a chain, the pretentious descriptions of the source of their ingredients made me inclined to dislike them . But actually I found their sorbets(apricot, lemon, raspberry) to be quite flavorful. Not the best gelato of our recent trip but very good nonetheless. Our favorites were del teatro in Rome and sorbetteria castiglione in bologna

      Campo San Barnaba, 2761, 30123 Venezia, Italy, Venice, Veneto , IT

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jojolow

        I am headed again to Bologna at the end of the month and I have yet to try any gelato from Sorbetteria Castiglione, although I had a reasonable cup of hot chocolate from them last winter. i bet it will still be hot enough for me to maybe want a gelato (although hard to imagine ever feeling hungry in Bologna!), but the shop actually isn't close to where I'll be staying (in the old Jewish quarter).

        To be fair to GROM, a gelato last year in Bologna hit the trash can. I don't remember the name. It was on the via delle Moline, and it had been recommended to me by somebody. (Perhaps that is the name - Delle Moline.)

        I tasted a friend's apricot flavor from GROM one time, but it was so eggy, I'm not sure it qualified as a sorbet. (Since it wasn't mine to begin with, I didn't throw it away!)

        1. re: Jojolow

          Barberinibee I think you just might have a little chip on your shoulder about GROM. I scarcely recall seeing people on this board make it out to be Italy's premier gelato. Of course, the GROM guys want you to think that.

          GROM is never my first choice but I think it is reliable and decent. In my book it is B+/A- gelato. I think their flavors are powerful and I appreciate the consistency of it. I don't like how sterile the shops are but I think that's the problem with the chain approach. Rivareno gelato suffers accordingly but I think their product is also fairly decent.

          I don't want to say gelato is like wine but I will say everyone has a different palate for it. For instance, the first time I went to gelato del teatro in Rome, my foul tasting rum something or other ended up in the same place as Barberinibe's GROM melon.

          How about folks that are lukewarm on GROM post where they'll walk past GROM to patronize. Here's two:

          Milan--Bianco Latte

          Venice--Gelateria Squero

          1. re: badwaiter

            Nope. No chip on my shoulder. Just puzzled as to its reputation. I don't only read this board!

            I walk past dozens and dozens of gelaterie in Italy to save myself for a real treat at Frigidarium in Rapallo.


            1. re: badwaiter

              Here's a headline from the New York TImes

              "Sweet Tooth | Grom’s Genius Gelato"

              A quote from New York magazine "best" gelato contest:

              "Verdict? Tthe purest, the cleanest, freshest flavors, with a dense rich texture. The winner."

              A few months ago, Katie Parla wrote on her travel/ food blog of Grom's gelati. Her verdict after tasting five? "In fact, I really really liked them." -- and then she went on to say: "Yet there is something about Grom that just doesn’t sit right with me." But she talked about the decor, not the tossability of the product, and said the atmosphere didn't have soul.


              The GROM outlet in Genova, which is the only place I've ever bought a GROM gelato, is about the size of a closet, and there is no place to sit inside, so I just get the gelati and walk away. I'm not affected by the decor. In fact, I really really don't like their gelati.

              1. re: badwaiter

                Gelateria Squero

                Gelateria Squero
                Sestiere Dorsoduro, Venice, Veneto 30123, IT

                Bianco Latte
                Via Filippo Turati, 30, Milan, Lombardy 20121, IT

            2. Ah to be in Italy, throwing out substandard gelato :)

              1 Reply
              1. you are not alone. I wanted to like grom a lot, bcs of all the organic etc behind it, and kept trying but i just don't like the taste, basta. And I know some other, real, gelato people out there who have the same feelings - we want to like it, but just can't.

                Campo San Barnaba, 2761, 30123 Venezia, Italy, Venice, Veneto , IT

                1. Ciao!

                  I very much dislike Grom! I thought I was the only one. I just don't get it I guess. I love a good gelato and don't care about the milk thing. I just don't find it superior to other gelato. Nothing against the Grom people though!

                  The one really bad thing I can say about them, because honestly, the rest is just a matter of personal preference is, that they servied me a coffee granita that was made with old burnt coffee that was so disgusting I would have spit it out if I wasn't walking down "Il corso."

                  I reallly like the Crema at Caruso in Rome. I think there is no comparison.

                  Like many dishes, I usually go by flavor not necessarily place. Dulce de Leche at Perche No? in Florence another fave.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ambra

                    I haven't got anything against the GROM people either. It doesn't bother me that if people honestly believe they've got a good product that they market it globally, and if doesn't bother me if a chain is a chain if their product doesn't suffer.

                    Part of the reason I put up this post is because when I was recently in Torino, I noticed long lines of people waiting to get into two of GROM's locations there. (Although on the same trip, I passed a GROM in Aosta and it was empty.) I think seeing the long lines may have been the reason that I tried it again yesterday in Genova.

                    I absolutely agree that gelato is mainly about personal preference. But it is often the case that even when I don't personally enjoy a famous food -- like Neopolitan pizza or any preparation of branzino -- I can readily see why other people who are sophisticated about food would celebrate it and recommend it. GROM finally stumped me -- although if somebody likes it, plainly it is made with quality real-food ingredients, not chemicals (even if the organic fruit is spoiled or the fair trade coffee is burnt!)