14 Jul2006


Tartufo is a dreamy and delicious Italian dessert made up of ice cream coated in chocolate. There are many interpretations of this dessert, and at this point, I haven’t the foggiest idea what would constitute a brilliant tartufo. However, my wife’s relatives in Rome suggested that if we were seeking an audience with the “Ultimate Tartufo,” we needed to head to Piazza Navona, a short walk from Campo di Fiori, and secure a sidewalk table at Tre Scalini. My wife’s aunt’s late husband was very good friends with the owners of Tre Scalini and apparently anyone in the know knew that this was the place to get a serious Tartufo fix in Rome. From what I gather, the variations on tartufo include some mixture of good creamy vanilla ice cream, some chocolate ice cream and a chocolate shell of some sort (liquor is somethimes mentioned, cherry or fruit/chocolates, nuts, etc. are also variations on the original)…the idea is for the dessert to visually approximate a real tartufo or truffle and the taste experience is supposed to be as special as that of eating some real truffles. We made plans to go to Tre Scalini on several evenings with the Roman connections but they all fell through for one reason or another. So one day we headed over to Piazza navona on our own after visiting the Campo di Fiori market to try and taste this “stunning dessert…”

As soon as we got to Piazza Navona, we were faced with perhaps 4 cafes with similar names… like Bucatini, Spezzini, Scalini and Headachalini and of course, we forgot which one was the “real” McCoy. tar2We took a wild guess and sat down at one of the better looking cafes under a nice umbrella blocking the sweltering sun, but it wasn’t the right cafe though they served dessert as well. My wife and the Kid ordered a tartufo each and I went to find their washroom. A few minutes later, these two spectacular plates with these wonderful looking confections were delivered with fanfare. I took one look and knew we were about to get royally fleeced. Thank goodness the tartufi were superb and utterly delicious, but the worst was yet to come… I asked for the bill and the total for two ice creams, 3 seats for 15 minutes, urinal use and a view of the square with pooping pigeons was a whopping Euro28 or USD37 or PHP2,000!!! I just wanted to reach up and strangle a waiter! They had “gotcha!!!” written all over their smug mugs. Though my wife and daughter thought these tartufi were excellent, I am almost certain they weren’t worth the exhorbitant prices charged… At least you are all forewarned and unless you have money burning in your pockets, try this much ballyhooed dessert in less expensive surroundings! I was so put out by the tartufo incident that for the rest of the trip, it became my currency of choice…”oh my gosh, that shoe is one tartufo!” or “let’s bring home 2 tartufi worth of olive oil”, or “you think our overweight charges will exceed 12 tartufi???”….heeheehee.



  1. Sylvia says:

    Marketman, your tartufo picture took my breath away! As in, I could already visualize myself sinking my teeth into one. Can’t wait to try it! I would hate to spend $18 for one though.

    I have been truly enjoying your posts on your European trip. I hope I will still remember all your tips and these places you’ve been to when I finally go on my first trip to Europe. Definitely in a few years, when the baby is older. I think it would be difficult to haul a toddler along. Although, come to think of it, it was no problem at all when I took the kids to NYC. Do you think Europe is stroller-friendly?

    Jul 14, 2006 | 5:51 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Sylvia, I found all those centuries old cobblestones to be a royal pain in the feet…not stroller friendly at all…so much better to travel in North America with a stroller…I’m with you, wait till the little one can motor around on his/her own gas… we took our daughter to Paris for the first time when she was 6/7 years of age…it was a perfect timing…

    Jul 14, 2006 | 6:11 am

  4. Mila says:

    Headachini… lol, goodness, sounds like you were ready to fly off the handle by the time you hit Rome.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 8:34 am

  5. lee says:

    hahahahaharrr…. they tartufooled you.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 9:45 am

  6. Marilou says:

    At least they were nice to you. When my husband, son and I went there they were kinda rude to us. Maybe it’s because we couldn’t make our selection fast enough. My favorite gelateria is Vivoli in Florence.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 9:56 am

  7. stef says:

    tartufo is on my list of things that i’d like to recreate, from scratch, *one day*…..

    and no, Europe is not toddler-friendly. we went when our youngest was 2. ARGH. our aching backs, feet and arms! add to that our 5-year old who was walking on his own of course, but just found it to be too much. it’s the cobblestones that really got us. and it was ESPECIALLY hard with a stroller. all this and the crowd too! yikes! so now we’re waiting until all the kids are older and won’t ask to be carried, before we go again.

    Jul 14, 2006 | 11:43 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    Mila, I just love that phrase “flying of the handle” and it is an accurate way to describe me on more than one occasion… does it stem from flying pland without holding the handles? Or referring to a pan that one throws in a fit and it flies off the handle? …hmmm, I wonder now. :) lee, are you an English major by chance? You should invent a new Lee-language! Marilou, they weren’t rude, they were rich as a result of the order… stef, it’s actually hard to find a recipe for tartufo that isn’t way different from the next recie you find…not even sure if it is gelato or ice cream within… And yes, I disliked the bloody cobblestones bigtime!

    Jul 15, 2006 | 9:40 am

  9. jencc says:

    Gee, we never thought about tartufo when we were there…good thing too, I guess, because we would have ran out of money! We *did* get gelato at EVERY town we would stop in! It’s a wonder that both my husband and I didn’t balloon during our honeymoon!

    Jul 17, 2006 | 9:54 am

  10. matthew freedman says:

    Just got back from a visit to Rome myself. The tartufos at Tre Scalini were 9 euros…if you ate them at a table. If you order them at the counter, they are 4 euros apiece.

    Aug 18, 2006 | 2:57 am

  11. mayo says:

    For your information, there’re two Tre Scalini places in Piazza Navona: one is a restaurant, the other a cafe.It appears you spent 15mts. in the restaurant.
    By the way, Marketman, Mila got it right; the idiom spells “to fly off the handle.”

    Jul 15, 2009 | 1:34 am

  12. Joanna says:

    Best tartufo which ruin any others was in Pizzo Italia. This is a very small town near Tropea in southern Italy. It is said that this dessert originated from there. It cost us $4.00 Euro each during Spring 2008, my husband thought it was expensive until he tried it.

    Jul 27, 2009 | 8:11 am


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