Monday, May 21, 2007

Bar S. Callisto - Tour del Gelato

Lest we forget that the "Tour del Gelato" is an indefinite tour, and lately I have been slacking on my tour guide duties, I give you what I affectionately call "Gelateria Zozza," a.k.a. The Filthy Gelateria. Mind you, it's not really filthy in the literal sense. But in Roman dialect, sometimes when we want to indicate something so incredibly down-home and no-frills that there's just no other way to express it, well, I've heard people use the word "zozzo" before, and here I feel it's appropriate.

Usually, pleas by Ale to go here fall on deaf ears--mine. I have a bit of an aversion to this place. Maybe it's because it lacks the neon pizzazz of Blue Ice, or the embarassment of choice provided by Della Palma. In all fairness, Bar S. Callisto isn't even really a gelateria, but rather a bar that happens to serve homemade gelato. Let me just get to the honest point here: I don't mix well with the crowd that congregates in front of the bar. It reminds me of a grittier version of Campo de' Fiori when it's past dark and beer bottles start breaking on the pavement. Getting inside this bar always makes me feel like I've just crashed a meeting of Trastevere's secret grunge and alternative society. Let's face it...I just don't fit in around here...far too few piercings and tattoos to be accepted.

Truth be told, in the light of making this a stop on the Tour del Gelato after Ale insisted on it this weekend, I have re-evaluated my former assessment. Also because our trip there allowed me to bring closure to a blogging mystery I presented to you a few months back. And because I have to be honest, the gelato there IS pretty good, after all.

So, prepare yourself as I lead you into the dark underbelly of the secret gelateria bar.
Enter, and face the list:

No, people, there are no shiny glass cases overflowing with mounds of colorful gelato here. I mean, please, would you just look at this sign? One can only wonder what ever became of the flavors now shrouded in wrinkled bits of scotch-taped paper. Frankly though, the prices are excellent: from €1 to €2.

Oh...did I forget to mention that this is a strictly Romanisti bar?

By that I mean, major Rome soccer team memorabilia OVUNQUE, that is, everywhere. Ms., I know that must be the real reason Sante comes here when you guys visit Rome. Strangely, my Lazio-crazed husband doesn't seem to mind. That tells you how much he adores this place's gelato. And I once again have to confess, I hold a soft spot in my heart for these down-home bars with autographed photos of local soccer heros from the early-to-mid 80s. I'm not being sarcastic--trust me, I find it strangely charming.

This is where the gelato comes from--mysterious silver vats. If you catch the scooper on a busy day, you'll see the covers literally flying all over the place. They are FAST, and I mean it. Also note the coveted homemade whipped cream topping.


Bits of local wisdom and advice can be had at every turn:

Who am I to partake in the un-hygienic practice of refusing the little spoon? Oh, no, indeed!

This, friends, was my final selection, for €2 (actually a bit much for me). Chocolate and strawberry, a combination that never fails me when I can't find the strange concoctions I prefer at other places, filled with all number of cookies, fruits and random additives. No, you will find no chunks here, I assure you.

Well, our tour ended, I must say that my snobbish attitude regarding this place has softened into a quiet admiration for the simple art of gelato the way it was intended to be. And I give my stamp of approval to Bar S. Callisto for upholding the art of traditional, no-frills gelato.

And, about that blogger mystery I mentioned to you. Remember how I swore I couldn't ever manage to find a clever enough ploy to disguise the shameless act of capturing the pupazzaro on film? Well, folks, let's all give a round of applause to S. Calisto and its alternative club, which, who knew, our friend the pupazzaro is a member of. Not surprising in the least. In a thinly-disguised attempt to appear tourist-like, snapping a photo of the many happy customers enjoying their drinks in the sun, I zoomed in on said pupazzaro, and here, for the first time in blogdom (I think), I give you:

It's your turn to figure out which one he is. And I'll give you a little hint: it's not the guy in the white shirt.

Bar S. Callisto
Piazza S. Callisto, just off Piazza S. Maria in Trastevere (the road to the left when you're facing the church)

16 comments:

Cynthia Rae said...

That little ice cream cone in your hand just happens to be MY FAV! I loves me some choclate and strawberry gelato! You got me drooling now!

New topic,
chickpeas, neither chicks nor peas. Is anyone really going to buy Bab's tickets at THAT price?

Cyn

zeva said...

i love San Calisto. not just the ice cream but the whole vibe there... it's real! that's where the old-school trasteverini gather.

Tamara said...

Love the orange hat - so subtle LOL.

Hey, it's awesome that Ale is a Lazio fan - so am I!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I see the artist is wearing a orange hat today.

I walked past that bar all the time and never went in. The crowd made me a little nervous. Not sure why.

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

You forgot to mention the cheapest wine you can drink in a plastic glass! I loved that place in my broke-a&&%% days...the chocolate is supposed to be the best flavor :)

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

PS: Updated the tour page already....you're awesome!

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Cyn: Good topic. ;-)

Zeva: Depends on what you mean by old-school Trasteverini. It's definitely not where the seven-generatons in Trastevere little old ladies have an aperitivo. But I would definitely agree that the more bohemian, artsy and alt crowd gather there. As well as those looking for cheap big bottles of beer or cups of wine, like Ms. mentions.

Tamara: Forza Lazio ;-) Ale wanted to name our cats "bianco" and "celeste" I vetoed the idea but one of them still ended up named Pavel, after Nedved who used to play for Lazio.

NYC: I know what you mean. I absolutely don't have anything against the place or the people there, and the guys who run it are always really friendly, but the vibe of the crowd out front, esp. in the evening and at night, always makes me a feel a little bit like a fish out of water, so I only go there when Ale wants to get gelato there.

Ms: You and cheap wine in a plastic cup? I can hardly see it... and I would have to say that chocolate probably must be the best flavor... it was excellent.

zeva said...

" It's definitely not where the seven-generatons in Trastevere little old ladies have an aperitivo."

Au contraire monfrair!!! groups of old-skool romane congregate there EVERY single day. and i'm talking old-skool as in elderly! they sit outside the bar in their housecoats and yap away. they are hilarious! they all have those roman, hoarse voices and they make comments on the young peeps who also, as you know, congregate at s. calisto. i'm telling you, it's the best spot.

Isabelle said...

yumm strawberry and chocolate, a classic ;-)
I always feel a little shy to go to such places, like I don't belong there but in the end, it's often very fun and typical ;-)
How can a laziale end up in a romanista bar ???!!! LOL
(by the way, love the story about naming the cats ;-)

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Zeva: Allora, I stand corrected! I've never seen them but maybe that's because I've never really gone by there in the mornings, who would've thunk it? The older ladies I see are always closer by Piazza S. Cosimato. There's one group I always see where the "ring leader" is this lady who used to be the cashier at a bar nearby when it was known as Cecere (now it's under new management and she's gone into permanent retirement I think). She even turned up in a Verdone movie (he lives in M.Verde Vecchio and used to go there for b-fast sometimes) with a one-liner pretty much playing herself... and just like you describe it, all hoarse voices and harsh judgements.

I am definitely missing out on some interesting neighborhood goings on here. Zeva, where is your blog to report on these things I am missing? ;-)

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Shelley~ I love popping to see what is happening in Trastevere. I've tagged you with a blooger tag...
Check my link to get the scoop~ unfortunately I don't mean gelato.

JB said...

Oh, your post reminds me of licking gelato cones piled high at Giolitti's, and sipping espresso in Trastevere. Thanks for taking me back.

Simon Griffee said...

Came across your blog and this post while searching for apartments in Rome (long-term) and coincidentally I spoke with the pupazzaro just the other day!

His name is Emidio Antoci and he is a painter and all-round artist. Here's a photo of him: Emidio.

Cheers!

Simon Griffee said...

The right URL: Emidio.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Simon: Benvenuto! That is a fantastic photo you've got there. And I thank you sincerely for the additional info. about er pupazzaro. My other bloggy buddy just knew enough to give me his nickname and tell me that he was an artist that used to be part of a group that worked with Pasolini. I am always happy when I can solve mysteries like this with the collective help of the blogosphere!

Hope you'll be back to visit us every once in a while!

Simon Griffee said...

Thanks Shelley! Thanks for the kind comment. I'll be back for sure—nice blog!