The Gelato Post
And now the moment you've all been waiting for! The big reveal - which gelato is THE best in Vienna? Or at least my humble opinion from the few places I tried. In all, I ended up with a baker's dozen in my repertoire.
Here's a quick run down of how I judged these but if you'd like further information, you can read about it in detail here. I picked six different categories to help make my decision: taste, selection size, scoop size, price, location and the design of the shop itself. I got strawberry and hazelnut at each place to make the judgement fair.
Now, without further ado, here are the results, starting with the worst and ending with the winner.
Price: 2,40/2 scoops in a cup
Location: Servitengasse, close to Das Mill
Selection: 10 flavors
Website: none to be spoken of
So, to be fair, the only reason I went to this one is because I pass it almost every day. It's a little cafe on Servitengasse, which is where the grocery store I go to is and it is less than a three minute walk from Das Mill.
I don't actually know if this place has a name other than Cafe Konditorei. This is a general name that a lot of different places have - it's more of a type of place than an actual place. It lost major design points for not having a clear brand. It would be impossible to find this place online due to lack of branding.
It's more of a lunch cafe that happens to also serve a limited selection of okay-ish gelato. They don't have a wide selection of flavors, and they are only open until 6:30 PM, so I didn't get there much.
So, a trend I noticed while trying these different gelato places is that oftentimes the strawberry flavor is just not gelato - it's sorbet. Many times, the ice cream is non-dairy, so it doesn't have that creamy texture you expect from gelato. I am not a huge sorbet fan (I have to be in the right mood) so I am not a fan of being told I am getting gelato and it's really sorbet. Just call it sorbet so I know not to get it.
Cafe Konditorei certainly had that problem and the worst part is the strawberry flavor wasn't even good enough to redeem it. The hazelnut tasted good, but it had ice crystals in it, which tends to ruin the texture and experience.
This place gave decent scoops and the price was average. But the gelato itself was just not up to par.
Side note: last time I came to Vienna, I did get an Eis Kaffee here and it was very good - maybe gelato is just not their star dish.
Location: Stephansplatz (multiple locations)
Selection: 25+ flavors
Here we begin with the places that actually are gelato places, and not just places that happen to sell gelato (though, to be fair, Aida also is a bakery and coffee shop). Aida is a chain all over Vienna. It's recognizable by it's bubble gum pink everything, down to the employee's uniforms (the women wear large pink skirts and pink button downs - very 50s).
I stopped by this place with my parents one night on the way back to Das Mill. We got three flavors (including my strawberry and hazelnut) and shared it between us.
The large cup does make the scoops look smaller, but they really didn't give us a lot of gelato (I think the other flavor we got was caramel, but I can't remember).
My main take away from Aida was how fake the flavors tasted - both flavors, though not sorbet, felt syrupy and the texture was lacking. I actually wrote "disappointing" in my notes.
Ironically, I walked by this same Aida later, and saw this sign...
I'd have to disagree, sign. However, it is in a very prominent location (at least this one is), right at Stephansplatz. There's another one down the street though, so it's not really that impressive.
Price: 2,30/2 scoops in a cup
Selection: 25+ flavors
I must say that I had really high expectations for Castelletto. I pass it often, as it is right off of the Schwedenplatz stop, and there are always people filling the outdoor seating with fancy bowls full of fruit, whipped cream, gelato, shakes, coffee... it looks so enticing. Strangely enough, there is not often enough a line for take away. I guess there is a reason for that.
I did actually stop here once previously, but I sat down and got a specialty ice cream, with fruits and whipped cream and sauce, so it was a completely different experience from my hazelnut and strawberry in a cup. Maybe this gelato really wasn't so bad, but I was expecting it to be better, so it lost points automatically. The strawberry was a little syrup-y, though not terribly so and the hazelnut was nothing to write home about.
This place had the makings of a gelateria with a large selection of flavors (over 25) but they generally only had fruity flavors, and I much prefer sweet flavors.
As for the design, they do well with curb appeal where they are laking in initial umph with their branding. Though there's nothing terrible about it, it's just not good.
Price: 3,20/medium cup
Location: Close to St. Peter's
Selection: 25+ flavors
I had a majorly hard time tracking this place down (there are several locations, but I was looking for a specific one before I knew what the name was... herein lies my problem). I had this recommended to me, though the recommendee couldn't remember exactly where it was or the name of it. I was given a general location and told to look for orange. Well, I failed, but ended up finding something else... more on that later.
Eventually, the person who told me about this took me here themselves. While it seems Tuchlauben tried really hard with their graphics, there's something just a little lacking. The store feels like they tried to become modern but are still stuck in the old-age Vienna style.
As for the ice cream itself, the scoops were a decent size, though not huge. I found their staff a little abrasive and it was difficult to order because of the layout of the store, which kills the experience a little bit.
The texture of this gelato was creamy and fluffly, and the flavors were really true. However, something about the flavors were just not as refreshing as I like my gelato to be. The hazelnut was more on the savory side, and lacking in sweetness, which is what I really go for in a dessert, so that was a little disappointing. It also had chunks of hazelnut, and though I like the flavor, I do not like nuts in my ice cream.
The strawberry was a little tart, though the real strawberry flavor really shone through.
Price: 2,40/small cup
Selection: 25+ flavors
I came upon Paolo Bortolotti after seeing Star Trek at a nearby theater. It was right off the Neubaugasse stop (literally impossible to miss) and stocked with a good amount of flavors. Their scoops weren't massive, but not too small.
The strawberry here was good - not syrupy and obviously a real strawberry flavor - but it left something to be desired, though it's something difficult to place. It wasn't as refreshing as I would like.
As for the hazelnut, it was good, and had a slight hint of chocolate flavor, which I suspect might have been left over from the ice cream scoop they were using... which, though I am not complaining, is a strike against their overall score. You don't want a flavor you didn't order ending up in your gelato, especially if you're possibly allergic to it (I'm not allergic to chocolate, it's just a point.
The branding is just meh - their logo is okay. It's pretty typical compared to the rest of the gelato places around here. Nothing special about it, but nothing really terrible about it.
Location: Between Schwedenplatz and Stephansplatz
Selection: 24 flavors
To start, I don't fully understand the thought behind the location of this place. There is this location, pictured below, right off of the Schwedenplatz stop, and then another one less than a two minute walk away, toward Stephansplatz. I am not sure what the idea was behind this, but oh well.
As far as the design goes, it's really not terrible, but it feels a little frankenstein to me - pieces of cutesy, quirky illustrations as well as some sketchy-line art drawings mixed with the classic calligraphic style, and then the modern, almost computer-y text. There's several good things going on, but they shouldn't be going on all at once.
Probably my biggest take-away from here had nothing to do with the ice cream itself, but the staff. There was one lady working at the empty counter, and when I ordered my gelato, she was anything but kind to me, and it really put a hamper on my trip. Of course, there are probably several other waiters/waitresses at this location, and if I had gone another day, it might have made it higher up on my list, but alas.
The gelato itself was decent. The scoops were too small, but the flavors were creamy and real. As for the strawberry, though it wasn't syrupy in flavor, it left a sickly sweet aftertaste that I did not appreciate. The hazelnut was nuttier in flavor than I like, but still good.
Price: 2,70/small cup
Selection: 25+ flavors
Okay, so I can hardly even talk about the design of this particular gelateria because I have absolutely nothing good to say. Like, there's not even some weird theme or feeling they're trying to go with. It's just terrible.
But the ice cream is super good! The texture is really great - super creamy, fluffy and airy, exactly how you want your gelato to be. It was refreshing and cool, another gelato staple.
The location is decent, as it is just off Schwedenplatz stop, and it is really large, so they get a lot of food traffic from tourists.
One downside was how fast this gelato melted. I hardly got to eat my strawberry before all my ice cream had melted into one heap, which made testing the individual flavors difficult. I had gotten hazelnut, strawberry and coffee, so I shortly had a hazelnut coffee with a hint of strawberry cream. Which, while that makes a really great coffee and gelato, I couldn't distinguish the hazelnut flavor to tell if they really did it justice. But it all tasted good mixed together. So not too much complaining here.
Location: Right by Hofburg Palace
Selection: 11 flavors
I found this place while searching for Tuchlaben, which made it on this list a little earlier. As I mentioned then, I did not successfully find it on my first go around, but I did happen upon Demel.
Initially, I walked it because of the store's cuteness and charm. Just look at this lady and her ice cream cone. Imagine this kind of cuteness, but everywhere and perfect. It was classy and cute and smelled like sugar (they also make/sell chocolate and pastries). Needless to say, it was their brand that pulled me in (your brand isn't just your logo, folks, it's how you present yourself), so they scored high on the design portion. Their logo isn't the most perfect thing ever, but it matches the classy and cute feeling.
The gelato portion of the shop was a small walk-up counter right outside the main store. So, Demel might not be marketed as a gelateria, but the gelato still held up. Unfortunately, they didn't have hazelnut, so I settled on a flavor called Katzen - which is cat... there's a popular chocolate here with the same name. I don't know why, but, hey, it's chocolate.
So, the strawberry was, unfortunately, minimally sorbet-ish, but it was creamy enough that it is allowed to be called gelato. The flavor was good, but what really sold me was the Katzen. It was like drinking a perfect cup of hot chocolate, but in the form of ice cream. It was SO good, guys.
As you can tell by my picture of the ice cream, the scoop sizes aren't ideal, but you have a nice view while eating them. It's located on a street right off of the square where Hofburg palace is located. The beautiful castle in the background really adds to the ambiance of Demel. Just the location and classiness of this place has me sold.
Location: Between Schwedenplatz and Stephansplatz
Selection: 18 flavors, fresh homemade cones
Fun fact: Eis Greissler is the #1 out of 96 dessert place on Trip Advisor and the #3 in the 3.741 places to eat in Vienna. Also high on the list, Veganista and Zanoni & Zanoni coming in at #14 and #23 in the overall restaurant ranking, making them #2 and #4 on the dessert list.
This was actually the first place I truly reviewed after I decided I would start my blog. I had already had gelato this day, but I passed it on my way home one afternoon and I decided to stop and see what the commotion was all about. This place always has a huge line out the door (no doubt due to Trip Advisor). It's located fairly centrally between the Stephansplatz and Schwedenplatz UBahn stops. The shop, though small, stands out with it's cute, if not well executed, decor and bright colors. It's a nice blue color with a plaid pattern and lots of plates with cows and different phrases on them (the plates with the writing is where they lost my endorsement of their brand).
As mentioned, the building is tiny. In the lobby area, you could probably comfortably fit three to four people, uncomfortably seven or eight. The rest are forced into standing in a long line going out onto the sidewalk, an annoyance for passers-by and it creates a longer wait for your gelato (not a fan of either thing). So, their location could have been better selected for a location to accommodate more visitors, or at least a better way to line up.
But the ice cream itself was very good. If not, it wouldn't have gotten so high on my list. I think from my picture you can tell I had an issue with the strawberry (too sorbety). Besides that issue, the flavor was good, and it had real strawberry seeds, so you know you're getting the real deal.
The hazelnut flavor was a good mixture of sweet and nutty, without the annoying nut chunks.
My other complaint is with the texture of this gelato - it was too hard - it was difficult to scoop with the little plastic spoon they provide. I had to just stab the block of gelato and use the spoon as a fork.
Price: 3,40/2 scoops in a cup, extra for special flavors
Location: Alserbachstraße (multiple locations)
Selection: 16 flavors, unique, rotating
I went here more than most of the other shops on my list. Part of that is because I could walk there easily from Das Mill and then they also gave loyalty cards, and I made it my goal to get my free gelato before the end of my trip (I will be redeeming it tomorrow!).
This is where Veganista really lost points. First off, their location, while great for me, isn't the best for a lot of foot traffic for tourists. There are two other locations, but I never passed them in my travels, so I assume that means they are also off the beaten path. Second, they are incredibly expensive at 3,40 euro for a cup with two scoops in it, and that is only if you don't get special flavors. Over half of the flavors typically are special, so there's little way to avoid the .30 extra cents. Lastly, because all of their flavors are vegan (hence the name), several of their vanilla-based flavors have a hint of coconut flavor. This isn't a problem if you like coconut, but it's really not majorly overpowering if you don't. However, if you'd like to avoid the coconut taste, their menu tells you which kind of milk is in each product.
Where they lack in variety of flavors, Veganista really soars in the uniqueness category with flavors like Strawberry Agave, Basil and Peanut Butter (unique here in Europe). One of my favorite combinations so far has been their banana ice cream and peanut butter ice cream - their flavors really soar in the "it tastes like I am eating _____ but frozen and perfect" category.
One thing about this place is they don't always have every flavor, they are on what seems to be a random rotation (or I just haven't picked up on their pattern). So, when I went for the official "test" I had the strawberry agave, which was a little on the sour side, like a sweet tart. Later, they had a flavor called strawberry fields forever that is probably my favorite strawberry I have had on this trip. It has chocolate chunks mixed in with some really great strawberry ice cream.
Their hazelnut is a basic flavor and they always have it (their specials are the rotating ones). It's good, but not the best, as the strawberry is.
As for their appearance, I am in love. Their colors are happy pastels, matching the feel of getting a scoop of cold ice cream and the color of said ice cream. Their shop is clean and modern, but not over-done with the bright, sleek & white. Their logo, the v with the asterisk, makes an adorable ice cream cone and is used effectively throughout their store to denote specialty flavors. And, if you haven't noticed, I am a fan of rounded fonts with the non-traditional a (how most people actually write), which they use!
Veganista is a fun place to come back to again and again to check out their different flavors, and the staff has always been incredibly kind (a rarity at gelato places). Plus they always give you big scoops.
Price: 2,10/small cup
Selection: 15-20 flavors, rotating
Tichy is located at the end of the red line, right off the ubahn stop. The red line is my least favorite line because it is always so so crowded, all the way to the very end. I don't know what makes it so popular, but it is.
It's not incredibly convenient to get to, especially since there is nothing there to see besides Tichy - I know this because I walked around for a while trying to find another reason to go to the end of the line. But no, you have to make a special trip if you want to make it down to this special gelato place.
It's incredibly good, and the flavors are rich and real, and they always give you large scoops, with extra, overfilling the cup slightly. Their cones are always a struggle to eat because it is so full - not a bad struggle to have.
But the ice cream. The hazelnut is a little too nutty for my taste (it has real chunks of hazelnut in it, which can be a plus, but I prefer none), but it is actually the flavor that inspired this whole venture. I got strawberry and hazelnut on that first trip there (this time in Vienna) and decided I would write this post.
The strawberry flavor was as real as - well, a strawberry. It did not taste syrupy or like sorbet (though it was not non-dairy).
Though they are far away, they are always so packed, which I blame on their excessive marketing. Though their brand itself isn't that great (reminiscent of a circus, and not in a good way), their logo is plastered everywhere, all over Vienna, and it works. It takes forever to get your ice cream once you get there, but it if you made the trip out there, it must be worth it.
Price: 2,50/2 scoops in a cup
Selection: 16 flavors, unique
I decided to ask the Koois their favorite place to get gelato - they told me about Ferrari. I'm so glad they recommended it to me because it is cute AND delicious. Though their brand might not be the best, the inside of the store still lets you know it's a trendy place to be, and the ice cream does not disappoint.
Because they aren't liars, their strawberry was listed under 'sorbet' and I therefore passed it up in favor of a caramel flavor (I believe it was called Queen Elizabeth) and my regular hazelnut. The flavors were amazing, and the gelato was cold and perfectly refreshing.
I also got my favorite flavor, fiocco, which rivaled Zanoni's, the original fiocco (for me). This also happens to be where I finally learned what fiocco is because they clearly lable their flavors (points!). It's essentially just vanilla with whipped cream mixed in. So, perfect.
I did have a little trouble getting there, but mostly because I was out and pretty far away from it, and I walked from an Ubahn station that wasn't Karlsplatz. I'd advise against my method. It's quicker to go to Karlsplatz.
I found both the atmosphere and the staff here to be incredibly charming, and their ice cream was clearly fresh and made with care. Though they close early (for a gelateria, 7:30), it's worth the trip.
Price: 2/2 scoops in a cup
Location: Between Schwedenplatz and Stephansplatz
Selection: 25+ flavors
I suppose this was the obvious answer for the number one gelato place in Vienna. I first came here in 2014 with my study abroad group, and it was the first gelateria we went to. We frequented it for the remainder of the weeks we had in Vienna, and it became a staple. So when I returned, I made it a point to come here again, and on my first day.
So, maybe part of the reason it is down here in the number one spot is due to sentimental value, but the gelato is still pretty great.
One of the only pitfalls of Zanoni is their brand. Sorry, guys, I am just not a huge fan. It's just not that great. But don't judge the gelateria by their brand.
Their strawberry gelato tastes like real strawberries - the best part is that even though it is vegan (non-dairy) it isn't anything like sorbet. It's creamy, with small flecks of strawberry seeds so you know it's the real deal. That's the best part of gelato anyway, the fresher ingredients and true flavors. No syrups in this gelato (probably).
The hazelnut is a perfect combination of nutty and sweet. I am not a huge fan of it when it just has the nutty tones and none of the sweet goodness of ice cream, so the combination at Zanoni & Zanoni is perfect for me. Maybe a nut purist would disagree, but this is my list, so I made the decisions.
This particular location is the biggest one, as far as I can tell, though I have been to two other smaller cafe-type Zanoni's around Vienna. They're generally in large public spaces, easy to see and find.
The people here are generally kind, though it depends on which waiter you get (there is one particular guy I avoid - he gives smaller scoops and doesn't seem happy to be working there). The scoop sizes are generally decent, again depending on who you see. It's almost always packed, but the main one is large, and they move quickly through the line.
Zanoni & Zanoni also has my favorite flavor ever, fiocco, which I have decided is a sweet cream type flavor, and though I have had it a few other places, no one does it like Zanoni.
Zanoni's will always hold a special place in my heart and stomach. :)