Il Gelato Centogusti

chocolate gelati

I’m very fortunate to have a gelato guide in Milan, because it’s a rather spread out city. And like many Italian cities, I’ve found some of the best gelaterias are located farther away from the city center. (Younger, less-established gelato makers can’t often afford to be in the expensive areas.) Unlike other Italian cities, Milan isn’t really a place that caters to tourists – which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that unless you have someone taking you around, sharing the best addresses, you won’t likely stumble upon great places like Il Gelato Centogusti.

Sara Rosso rice and chocolate gelato

So how happy was I to spend the day with Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy? My Italian is rudimentary at best, although I’m pretty astute when it comes to the nomenclature for desserts. And not surprisingly, my brain is hard-wired to know each and every type of gelato, especially handy if I’m standing in front of a freezer full of the stuff. Il Gelato Centogusti boasts one hundred flavors and my usual flavor of choice, cioccolato, was especially well-represented.

il gelato

There was Cioccolato bianco (white chocolate), Cioccolato Paprika e Peperoncino (chocolate with pepper and chile pepper), Cioccolato fondente (chocolate with hazelnut paste standing in for the dairy), Cioccolato Zenzero e Limone (fresh ginger and lemon), as well as Cioccolato intensissimo and Cioccolato intenso. I’m not sure what the difference between the two was, but it’s nice to know that you can choose your chocolate gelato by intensity.

I was also intrigued by flavors like Riso bianco (white rice), Sesamo nero (black sesame), pesto gentile (delicate pesto, which Sara told me is slang for “without garlic”), Taleggio Aceto balsamico e Miele (Taleggio cheese with balsamic vinegar and honey), Ricotta e Mirtilli (ricotta and blueberry), Pistacchio californiano (California pistachio, which the gelato-maker uses because it’s become difficult to trace the actual origins of what are being labeled as true Sicilian pistachios from Bronte) and Fichi d’India (cactus pear). But I was stumped by Sedano, a word -and flavor – that I wasn’t familiar with.

gelati in Milano cheesecake & celery gelato

It was especially green, and sat in the special freezer case devoted to unusual flavors. Sara stepped in and said, “Oh, that’s celery!” …and my interest was piqued. It’s pretty hard to pull off odd flavors (I’ve dumped more than my share of batches in my lifetime) so with great respect to myself, and ice cream and gelato makers around the world, I’ve found that Italians just seem to do it best. They always get the balance of flavors just right, and are adept at incorporating things that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be good – like gorgonzola, vinegar, tobacco, and wasabi – into their gelati. But they do it.

Celery gelato

And sure enough, when I tasted a spoonful of the celery, as the cool gelato coasted around my mouth, the bright flavor of celery came through with exactly the right amount of sweetness not to take away from the fact that it was dessert. But at the same time, the celery flavor was the star of the scoop. Although I could imagine it in melting slowly into a bowl of chilled tomato soup, I was pretty happy enjoying it just as is.

celery gelato in Milano purple gelato

All in all, we tried eight of the flavors, which means there are ninety-two more to go. We did hit a few other places before here, but none I liked as well as Il Gelato Centogusti. Luckily they’re open every day—including domani (tomorrow).

Il Gelato Centogusti
P.zzale Lagosta
Milan, Italy
(Metro: Zara)

Related Posts and Links

What is gelato?

Pistachio Gelato

Il Gelato Centogusti (Ms. Adventures in Italy)

Gelato di Polenta

Molto Gelati

Tasting Rome: Gelato, Pasta, and the Italian Market

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  • October 29, 2011 6:23pm

    Just came back from Rome and hit up a bunch of out of the way Gelato places. We had some interesting chocolate flavors too (agree that the Italians have a way with unusual flavors and making the savory into sweet creations). But I’ve got to say that Pistacchio is still my all time favorite.

  • Charlie
    October 29, 2011 6:47pm

    Dear David, I just love your blog! And this post must be my favourite! We are opening a gelateria next year, and travelled to Italy many times to taste and learn. This post is an example of what we want to show our customers: Italians make the best gelato!!! And I certainly enjoy every (weird) flavour they can come up with! Hope we can bring a little bit of Italy here :)

  • October 29, 2011 7:31pm

    Great desserts, beautiful guide, paradise.

  • October 29, 2011 7:54pm

    Wow, I would love to try the cioccolato intenso and intensissimo side by side and taste the difference! And I am intrigued by the celery flavour, maybe would be nice as a palate cleanser between courses of a long dinner?

  • October 29, 2011 8:43pm

    I’m not always a fan of savory ice cream but Taleggio Aceto balsamico e Miele gelato sounds very intriguing. And Ricotta and Blueberry sounds heavenly!

  • Ed
    October 29, 2011 8:49pm

    David: thanks for the tip! I’m going to Milan in two weeks and wil seek this place out. Any tips for Bologna?

    • October 29, 2011 11:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, there are some listed here.

  • October 29, 2011 9:25pm

    I have an idea for escargot ice cream they might be interested in…

  • Mayumi
    October 29, 2011 10:38pm

    Bonjour David,
    Comment allez-vous? On garde un livre de Maya pour vous à la boutique.
    Si vous passez à coté de la boutique, venez pour faire un petit coucou et le prendre, s’il vous plait. à bientôt peut-être !

  • Always Wright
    October 29, 2011 10:53pm

    Going to run over and get some gelato for tonight’s dessert at a nearby Italian restaurant. We had some in Milan and loved the surrounding atmosphere. You have made my mouth water for some! Thanks for all of your interesting comments and photos!

  • October 29, 2011 11:30pm

    Stunning! Would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  • October 30, 2011 2:14am

    I’ve never been to Milan, but I sure do miss gelato from Rome! The ricotta and blueberry one that you saw sounds especially tempting. :) I’ll put this on my list for the next time I visit Italy (whenever that may be)!

  • October 30, 2011 4:47am

    How beautiful! Chocolate with hazelnut fondant replacing dairy entirely – how decadent. Thanks for this report!

  • Catherine
    October 30, 2011 5:02am

    What’s the purple one, David?

  • Mauryn
    October 30, 2011 10:36am

    You have to try the gelateria and pastry shop on Via San Gregorio (Porta Venezia area). It’s a little place hidden away and has great coffee too (they have a vat of freshly whipped cream to dollup onto your coffee).
    I’m an expat living in Milan…in case you need another guide! :)

  • October 30, 2011 11:11am

    I absolutely agree with you, the best ice-creams places are rarely in the city center, with the exception of Torino, which has in Marchetti (corso vittorio emanuele 2) one of the highest expressions of Italian gelato. It is actually the Piedmontese style of gelato, the creamy kind, served using a spatula, “matecato” in the deep vats underneath the counter. You have to trust a place to buy gelato without seeing it. Marchetti is one of those. I have never being to Gelato Centogusti but you surely convinced me. I think that the Cioccolato Fondente is the chocolate sorbet kind, with the hazelnut one should be Gianduja if I am not mistaken.

  • martina
    October 30, 2011 12:54pm

    As Italian abroad one of the most missed thing from Italy is gelato… I had never thought it is our thing! Happy you make us justice! Enjoy Italy

  • October 30, 2011 1:27pm

    After just a few months of living in Rome (really just a few weeks) I’ve really started to appreciate the differences between truly “good” gelato vs. the more commercially produced stuff. Any plans to visit Rome??

  • Jenny
    October 30, 2011 2:40pm

    I’ve only tasted gelato in Florence — now dying to
    go to Milan! There’s a new gelato place in San Antonio
    called Pachiugo — very good chain supposedly founded
    by Italians. No terribly unusual flavors though but still

  • October 30, 2011 4:34pm

    When I stayed in Nice for a week my lunch everyday was gelato. Mostly because I didn’t have a lot of money and it was hot, but also because it was so fun to try different unusual combinations together.

  • Gloria
    October 30, 2011 5:15pm

    Sorry I missed this place in Milan. However thanks to you I did not miss out on “Camino” in Oakland, CA. Went last night and it was everything you blogged about. I totally trust your judgment on food. Thanks for the tip, David.

  • Betsy
    October 30, 2011 5:23pm

    Mymansbelly, we’re headed to Rome next month and would love to find some of the out of the way gelati. Could you (or anyone else) report in with the names of a few that you tried and liked? We’re familiar with the well-known ones near the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

  • Linda H
    October 30, 2011 5:53pm

    Have you done the most touristy thing in Milano and climbed to the roof of the Duomo? It’s fun, and you meet people from all over the world up there.

  • Rinat
    October 30, 2011 6:36pm

    wow, so many unusual flavors, i don’t think i will ever dare to try wasabi ice cream,but who knows? when you are in milan…….

  • October 30, 2011 6:37pm

    La Sorbettaria Castiglione is not to be missed in Bologna…
    Oh to be in your shoes David.
    Sesame nero por favore

  • kathy
    October 30, 2011 10:34pm

    That celery one looks fabulous! I want the recipe! You are right. There are all kind of ways to use that in a savory way that would be interesting.. I am hoping you will put a recipe for it on your blog… :-)

  • October 30, 2011 10:52pm

    Milan has painful memories for me, circling endlessly in the rain, trying to get to Cuomo. But I love the idea of the celerie melting into concasse of tomato! What about a dollop of creme fraiche on top of that gelato for the all-American “appetizer” of celery sticks filled with Philly creme cheese? That would be reminiscent of mom’s card parties in the 1960s. Bon continuation. Ciao!

  • October 31, 2011 1:04am

    When we visited Rome last year, I thought I was going to eat Tiramisu day in and day out. Ended up being gelato three four times a day and Tiramise only once in five days of visit! So good, so many flavors! Have not run into celery though! That would have been something.

    By the way, I took a homemade dairy class at Johnson&Wales in Charlotte, NC the other week. One of those classes open to the public. In the handout they gave us, they had your Strawberry Frozen Yogurt recipe from Sweet Life in Paris. Brought a smile to my face, like running into a familiar face in an intimidating class :)

  • Lee Poteet
    October 31, 2011 2:44am

    When I worked at City Hall in San Francisco, there was a gelato stand close to the War Memorial Theater whose gelato was the best I have had to date, but this makes me want to run away to Italy and hang around gelato joints. The basics of the last recipe I saw were very close to my father’s ice cream, but as good as that was (I always had to turn it) my gelato experiences were even better.

    A really wonderful post.

  • October 31, 2011 3:10am

    Hi David,

    I’m not saying that gelati doesn’t look amazing, but Adelaide’s version is soo good it is actually illegal!!

    Although personally I don’t really like the way it leaves an odd after taste of ‘ice’ on the back of the palate :)

  • October 31, 2011 3:45am

    So many choices…oh my goodness. I would be like a child in a candy store. I think I’d like to try the chocolate with hazelnut paste and that tobacco item…that one sounds so funky that I’d have to try it.

  • arline of va
    October 31, 2011 7:21am

    I would love to join one of your “gelato” tours in Italy.

    On a recent trip to NY lower east side, I stopped by Il Laboratorio del Gelato for the second time and loved it. They give you 3 free tasting samples and tried unusual flavors that you can’t find in the grocery stores like the flavor of toasted sesame, and combined it with nocciola. Toasted sesame is my new favorite gelato. I also loved their fig sorbet – my new favorite sorbet. Delizioso!

  • Andy Capelluto
    October 31, 2011 9:59am

    Thanks for the inspiration David. Tonight we purchased the Lelo Junior and your The Perfect Scoop. I’m a BIG fan and am planning on (together with my hubby) embarking on a new ‘frozen delicacies’ venture, on a tropical island called Mauritius. After 12 years in grey, wet Seattle, we’re excited to take a leap into the void, hoping & praying for the best. Sprinkle a little fairy dust our way for good luck :-)

  • Charlie
    October 31, 2011 10:51am

    Bologna is heaven for gelato eaters:

    – cremeria funivia
    – the stick shop
    – cremeria authentica
    – …

    Just walk around and have a taste in every shop you see! :)

  • Marta
    October 31, 2011 12:58pm

    as someone living in Milan, I have to say the few times I eat gelato (dairy is not something I can have every day) I go to Grom – I know you would approve. It’s not so easy to find a place where ice cream is truly made from scratch – and it makes me mad the fact that the piece of paper with all the ingredients is usually completely out of sight. So it’s nice to know that this one can be trusted.

    Even if it may sound strange, this italian resident in Milan would be interested if you post other things on my city….


  • October 31, 2011 3:34pm

    Betsy–David blogged about an out-of-the way gelato place in Rome (near the Vatican) called Fatamorgana. His post is here:

    I went last month based on his recommendation, and it was a culinary highlight of the trip. Definitely worth seeking out!

  • October 31, 2011 4:41pm

    I wrote about this place in one of my first posts. It really serves the 100 flavors it boasts and my curiosity was piqued by the ‘savory’ section too. I remember a pepper (as in caspicum) flavor that was interesting and loved the black sesame seed flavor. I was disappointed not to find any mint, given that mint choc chip is one of my favorite flavors. I felt so un-entitled calling myself a food blogger (uhm, I still am a little) at the time, I remember I gave them the wrong url. I had to write them and correct it. I wish I had known you were in Milan, it would have been a real honor to meet you and take you out for a cup of coffee. Hope you had a good time.

  • sillygirl
    October 31, 2011 5:47pm

    Off the topic but when we were in Paris in September-October we came across toilettes on the street – for free – the kind that are self-cleaning. What is Paris coming to!!!!! My husband was overjoyed. Well, so was I!

    • October 31, 2011 10:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, those are called sanisettes and have been around for a while; they used to cost 40 centimes, but now they are free (probably because they realized most fellows in Paris would rather use a bush than pay?) While they are convenient, they are mostly in touristed areas rather in regular neighborhoods and a majority of the time, they’re out of order – at least in my experience. It may be a conspiracy because some of the department stores (Printemps) and shopping centers (like the Carrousel du Louvre) now have “pay” toilets, which cost €1.5
      I think it’s pretty disgraceful as it’s not a particularly nice way to welcome guests to Paris. (Like at Orly airport as well, where they have women collecting change for use of the bathrooms before you go through the gates.)

  • Jenny
    October 31, 2011 7:17pm


  • Erica
    October 31, 2011 8:42pm

    We spent a day in Milano this summer on our way back to Paris. It really *was* frustrating being a tourist who wasn’t there to spend boatloads of cash on fashion. We happened to stumble upon this AMAZING little bistro near the train station, though…it ended up being one of the best meals of our whole trip. It was called Petit, and was italian/french/american inspired. The owners were incredibly gracious and the whole staff made our meal there incredibly enjoyable. In fact, it turned out to be one of the best meals we had while we were in Italy! You should pop by, if you get the chance.

  • BelleD
    October 31, 2011 9:01pm

    Small world…I met Sara in grad school, just before she left the US for Italy. Glad to see that she’s still in Italy and doing well.

    That celery gelato is just gorgeous. What is that beautiful purple gelato next to it?

    • October 31, 2011 10:04pm
      David Lebovitz

      I can’t remember. With over 100 kinds, it was hard to keep track of them all! I linked to their website, which lists their flavors. So perhaps you can figure it out from there? : )

  • Maya
    October 31, 2011 10:05pm

    I love Milano!! I was there this summer and had the most amazing meal at Ristorante Solferino in the Brera neighborhood (Via Castelfidardo, 2). Check it out if you have time!

  • sillygirl
    November 1, 2011 12:16am

    We flew into Orly in October and both my husband and I used the bathrooms and there was no one there collecting money – maybe they were on a break? I know the bathrooms in the Tuileries cost.

    • November 1, 2011 12:32am
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t been to Orly in a little bit (like in 8 months) but the change collectors were at the restrooms before you passed through security, into the gate area. It just seemed so odd at the time, in an international airport in a major city. Perhaps they did finally get rid of them and just let travelers go.

  • M
    November 1, 2011 1:35am

    Oh David! I hope you still are in Milan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on a gelateria, which I reckon the best I have ever had. A thousand times better than CentoGusti (that I find pretty dull) and Grom (can’t stand it). The one I am talking about is called Il Massimo del gelato (horrible play on word: the owner is named Massimo and the literal translation of the name means “The maximum in ice cream”) and I just can never get enough of it. Fortunately it’s a few steps far from my home. Well, I love pistacchio (salty and creamy) and Cavour chocolate, added with cerises griottes (I don’t know the English name) and liquor. But mango is over the top as well.
    Please, make a detour anywhere you are, and head to Massimo!!

  • Chris
    November 1, 2011 2:15am

    Hi David – long time, first time :-)

    Presumably the celery flavour is imparted by celery juice? I’ve often wondered when making both gelati / sorbet which fruits and vegetables you blend and which ones you extract juice from and discard. Is there a reasoning you follow? I ask because I am currently attempting a sorbet from my favourite fresh juice combination, carrot, green apple, pineapple and ginger.

    From your books and site and you seem to infuse ginger by warming slices in the base liquid. Pineapple I’m planning on blending and straining, carrot I think I’ll juice. I’m stumped by the apple though; on experience a poor amount of juice comes out, but I don’t think the actual flesh would contribute to the flavour only the texture – and poorly.

  • Kristin
    November 1, 2011 2:33am

    You should to come to Kansas City & have Christopher Elbow’s ice cream at Glace. I had spiced carrot yesterday…maybe not as unique as celery, but delicious. He had a cucumber this summer that my son enjoyed.

  • Liz
    November 1, 2011 4:17am

    One of my all-time favorite gelato flavor is the ricotta at Da Gianni in Bologna. Any chance you tried some of the ricotta flavors at Centigusti and have a good recipe idea?

  • November 1, 2011 11:40pm

    I could never choose! After spending an hour debating what to get, I would probably leave in frustration and not get anythng. Well that’s a lie, but still how can you pick between 100 flavors? And I totally know what you mean with the celery. I had a meal once that served celery sorbet as a palette cleanser and it was perfect. I could have eaten an entire bowl!

  • Betsy
    November 2, 2011 5:27am

    Thanks Becky. Found David’s Rome posts. Salivating all over the keyboard!

  • November 2, 2011 10:55am

    Black sesame is The. Best.

  • November 2, 2011 2:20pm

    Il Gelato Cento Gusti, j’adooore! You can find it also in Rome!

  • November 3, 2011 8:00am

    Wow! You can make everything mouthwatering with your posts. I only spent one afternoon in Milan a couple years ago but now I have another reason to go back for a little longer. Great!

  • November 4, 2011 4:41am

    I LOVE gelato! My husband is Italian-Slovenian and we can’t wait to visit Italy one day. When we do, I will re-read this post, for sure. :-) On a side note, are there any good pumpkin pastry ideas?

  • November 7, 2011 4:32am

    Wow! Thank you for sharing these photos. You have one charmed life.

  • Brian H
    November 7, 2011 10:56pm

    Just livened up an otherwise gloomy and rainy Milano day with a visit here to re-enact your degustazione. Lorenzo and Alessandro were very friendly. I was not at all disappointed after trying the sedano (celery). Sublime! The gorgonzola was equally unique but not quite so delicate. The only problem I had was that their largest cup only held 5 flavors. =)

  • Jared
    November 12, 2011 11:44pm

    Il Caruso in Rome is incredible.

  • Riina
    November 15, 2011 4:02pm

    Hi David! I sure hope you’ll read this comment!

    I’ve been following your blog for about a year now and when I saw your post on the gelateria Centogusti, I was thrilled. Why? Because I live in Turin (but I’m not italian) and I was about to go to Milan to visit a friend who lives there (but she’s not italian :P) and then I just KNEW that I HAD TO GO THERE too!

    So we did, 2 northern girls – me, a blond young woman in a red coat, and my friend, a darker haired young woman in a blue coat, and we both took 5 flavours. Also, the same guy was working that day (it was this Saturday btw) and I told him that we had discovered the Centogusti thanks to you and your blog. The guy was really happy and told us that you were great to have around and then we had a little chat :)

    If you ever come tu Turin, that’s not far from France at all, you should go to the gelateria La Romana which serves THE BEST and the creamiest gelato of all times! I like the La Romana ice cream even more than the Centogusti ones :)