Everything sounds better in Italian, and oftentimes, it tastes better too. Exhibit A: gelato, the Italian answer to ice cream. Made with milk rather than with cream, the frozen dessert is marked by a lighter texture and bold, refreshing flavors. In the last few years, a host of new gelaterias, including these six acclaimed ones, have opened to sweeten summer across the country.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Owner Elizabeth England not only handcrafts a rotating cast of 50 flavors but also creates her own crispy waffle cones. Her secret? She uses the finest ingredients available, including caramel from Argentina, Piedmont pistachios, and rich vanilla from Madagascar. 1751 South 1100 East, (801) 485-3254, www.dolcettigelato.com
San Diego, California
Since its opening in February 2007, this spot has become a favorite of Padres fans -- it’s only a few blocks from Petco Park and stays open until midnight on weekends. Local-favorite flavors include biscotti and dark chocolate. 435 Tenth Avenue, (619) 955-6300, www.mondogelatosandiego.com
Bellezza Gelato Caffe
Turkish roast coffee and banana caramel praline are just two of the 20 unusual gelato flavors (plus four flavors of sorbetto) offered by this cozy, year-old gelateria outfitted with granite-topped tables and rich red walls. Find it on the northwest side of Chicago amid a gaggle of Italian shops and trattorias. 3637 North Harlem Avenue, (773) 545-1239
This gelateria, one year old and located in Baltimore’s lively South Point neighborhood, has quickly become beloved by both late-night partiers and health-food nuts. Thank the all-organic flavors, like lime-and-mint mojito and local Pennsylvania wild wineberry, and the late-night hours -- it’s open until two a.m. on summer weekends. 802 South Broadway, (410) 702-5828, www.pitangogelato.com
BerryOcean Gelato and Espresso
Albuquerque, New Mexico
If the promise of 40-plus flavors of gelato doesn’t lure you in off the street of Northeast Heights, an upscale neighborhood in Albuquerque, BerryOcean’s Technicolor geometric furniture and walls will. Try the Illy espresso or kiwi. 4410 Wyoming Boulevard Northeast, (505) 294- 5506
New York, New York
When Grom’s first American outlet opened on the Upper West Side to 50-person lines, the owners quickly decided they needed to open another store. Thus, the unveiling of another one this month in the Village. Credit Grom’s success to the exacting standards of the Italian founders, who run an organic farm in northern Italy that produces melons, berries, and other fruits for ultrafresh flavors. Bleecker and Carmine, (646) 290- 7233, www.grom.it
Keep Some on Hand
Gelaterias don’t adorn every American street corner the way they do in Rome, but most local supermarkets now stock pints of the sweet treat. Try Ciao Bella’s two new summer flavors, maple gingersnap and key-lime graham cracker (www.ciaobellagelato.com), artisan gelatos by Denver-based Gelato d’Italia (www.gelatoditaliacafe.com), or Gelato Classico’s green tea and blackberry cabernet (www.gelatoclassico.com).