When in Rome as a tourist, you should visit ancient ruins, eat lots of pasta, and sample various flavors of gelato (it’s sort of a rule). The last activity is most commonly done in the vicinity of the Trevi fountain, a popular tourist attraction that is flanked by at least half a dozen shops vending delicious albeit very overpriced gelato. But if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Italian capital, I highly recommend throwing parsimony to the wind and indulging in some gelato by the Fountain.

When in Houston, however, you need not miss out on Rome’s iconic frozen treat. Nor is it necessary to pay through the nose. Just visit SweetCup Artisan Gelato & Espresso, which, I grant, does not boast much in terms of surrounding architectural beauty, but does offer some reasonably priced, terribly delicious gelato. A “small” cup serving includes your choice of up to three types of gelato for around $4 (tax included). And you’ll want to take advantage of this offer to diversify your gelato experience once you see the flavor selection. Avocado basil, bacio (dark chocolate and hazelnut), fig and cheese, salted caramel, and black sesame are some of the more inventive flavors on rotation. Conservative when it comes to frozen creams? No worries, there’s more traditional flavors like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla bean, pistachio, and espresso, too.

Other cold confections available include custard and sorbet, both of which are also available in a wide range of sweet and savory flavors. Among the most popular are orange prosecco, coconut curry (yes, that’s right), and pear. The sorbet and custard as well as the gelato are available in cones, but something about a paper cup plump with multiple large scoops and a disproportionately small plastic spoon feels more authentic (and facilitates imagining just for a moment you’ve left the Lone Star State for Europe). To balance its chilly sweets, SweetCup also offers a predictable array of hot and iced coffee drinks and teas. I would stick to water to avoid any unsavory flavor interactions. Also, why rev up? Embrace la dolce vita: gelato is about relaxing.

If (or, more likely, when) you return to SweetCup, resist the temptation to play flavor favorites because the owners are just too damn good at designing unique tastes. And since they’re so committed to never being boring, I suggest rising to the occasion yourself and trying something new each and every visit. That’s a luxury you don’t have on an ultimately ephemeral sojourn to The Eternal City.

SweetCup Gelato
3939 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006

Joanna O'Leary


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