Travel Gourmet is always on the hunt for a good gelato and London has in recent years spawned a glorious collection of great gelaterias. I’ve been to Grom in Italy a few times, recently in Siena but also in Florence, Genoa and Turin. I’ve eaten Grom gelato in Nice. So when I came back from Siena a couple of weeks ago, fresh from enjoying Grom’s ice cream there, I wondered if they had yet reached UK. Searching the internet I discovered they had – but only just. Grom opened in London’s Piccadilly – at the Piccadilly Circus end – in May this year.
Grom was born in Turin in May 2003, founded by Guido Martinetti and Federico Grom. They were inspired to do so by Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement, which has a big festival in Turin each year. Petrini complained that the art of traditional ice cream making had disappeared and so Martinetti and Grom took up the challenge and opened their first gelateria in Turin serving ice cream and sorbets free of artificial additives, flavours and sweeteners and containing no stabilisers or thickeners. That commitment to producing pure, traditional gelato forms the backbone of the company. They’ve taken it to such a level that they have their own organic farm, Mura Mura, near Asti, about an hour’s drive from Turin. Here they have over 100 different varieties of fruit trees, finding the best fruit to make gelato but at the same time ‘respecting the rhythms of nature and the environment.’ The ice cream bases are made in their production laboratory in Turin and then carefully shipped to individual stores where the final preparation is done. In 2013 they extended production to include a bakery so they could make cones and biscuits ‘that met our standards … guided by the same spirit as when we make our gelato.’
I was meeting a friend at the Harold Pinter Theatre near Piccadilly Circus last night and so I couldn’t resist treating myself to an ice cream at Grom first.
It was busy – not surprisingly on a warm summer’s evening – but the store was well organised with a clear entry to queue, which went round a central counter. In Italian style you pay first and are given a ticket and then move on to where staff are serving the ice cream. Boards display the choices, which vary according to the seasons, and it was also clear which were dairy free and one notice said they were all gluten free.
Prices for cones or cups are £3.90 (small), £4.90 (medium), £5.90 (large) and £7.90 (maxi cup). I always choose a cup and decided on a medium size and was told I could have 3 flavours. I couldn’t help remembering that I’d paid only €3.50 for my medium cup in Siena and was told I could have as many flavours as I liked! But the prices, while high compared to Italy, are pretty standard for central London.
As I moved round the counter I could see into the kitchen area where the gelato is made. They say that if they run out of a flavour you want they’ll make some more for you if you’re prepared to ‘just wait a few minutes’.
You can also buy tubs to take away.
And there are jars of Grom jams and marmalades (£6.50) and a selection of biscuits (about £8). Not particularly cheap but they did all look excellent quality so maybe a nice treat occasionally.
So what flavours should I choose! I went for Crema di Grom (well, you would, wouldn’t you! A mixture of custard, biscuit and chocolate pieces), Pistachio, and Caffe Espresso.
They were all very good and what particularly struck me about them was the creaminess of the texture. Grom is a great addition to the London gelateria scene but I have to say I don’t think it’s any better than the ones I named as my top five favourites recently and while I’d probably add it to my Top 10, it’s not knocking any of my Top 5 off their spot.