Buon Appetito: My mission to find the best gelato spots in Riyadh

Buon Appetito: My mission to find the best gelato spots in Riyadh

Join me as I try to find the tastiest and most authentic Italian-style gelaterias in the heart of the Kingdom's capital
22 May 24
Indulge in Riyadh's most authentic gelato spots Image source: IG gelatoetna

With the sweltering heat of summer on the horizon and temperatures steadily climbing, finding ways to beat the heat becomes a top priority for many, including myself.

From ice cold, viral coffee chocolate concoctions to new European flight routes, and exploring Saudi's cooler destinations, we're all looking for the best ways to cool down.

Recently I've had a hankering for the creamy deliciousness of authentic Italian gelato. I really didn't need any convincing to take on this piece, and so this week's mission was to find the best gelato spots in Riyadh.

Gelato, ice cream: What is the difference?

Before we can get into the detail, we need to establish a baseline; what is gelato if not ice cream?

When comparing to ice cream, the key differences are in the ingredients, texture and serving temperature. A classic Italian frozen treat, gelato is loved for its creamy, velvety texture and rich flavour.

Gelato typically contains a higher ratio of milk to cream compared to ice cream, and some recipes also include egg yolks, this also means that despite a rich and creamy texture, gelato is considered to be lighter than ice cream. Churned at a slower speed than ice cream, gelato incorporates less air resulting in a denser, smoother texture that isn't scooped but rather a paddle is used to serve gelato.

Most traditional gelato recipes rely on natural ingredients for flavour, using premium ingredients such as fresh strawberries, vanilla pods, rich home made caramel, avoiding artificial flavours or food colouring often used in ice creams. With regards to storage, gelato recipes call for fresh milk and because of this, batches are often prepared daily as freshness is key.

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3 of the Best Gelato Parlours in Riyadh


With the tag line 'hand made with passion', its no surprise that Nakhati aims to offer sweet-toothed visitors an authentic, high-quality gelato experience. Nakhati, meaning "My Flavour" in Arabic has more than twenty different flavours to choose from, including unique Saudi-inspired flavours.

I tried the Kleija flavour, with pomegranate molasses with ingredients sourced from Qassim Region, and I couldn't resist getting a juicy scoop of Nakhati's mixed berries sorbet. It was an interesting and delicious combination.  

Nakhati also has a creative space at their An Nakheel location, ideal for those who are looking for a location beyond their home office, and if you've got a team, there is even a dedicated meeting room. Meetings with a side gelato? Sounds like a good idea to me!

An Nakheel, Imam Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Rd, Riyadh 12381
Al Mamlaka Social Dining, Kingdom Centre, King Fahad Rd, Riyadh 11321


Etna Artisan Gelato

Bringing a true taste of Italy to Riyadh, Gelato Etna is named after the famous (and still active!) volcano, Mount Etna and serves up a selection artisanal gelato flavours.

Made using classic methods, Gelato Etna present visitors with an interesting selection of flavours, from cold brew coffee and chocolate hazelnut to matcha, coconut-strawberry and Taif almond, the choice is almost endless.

I tried the Hasawi Lumi flavour (a traditional Saudi fermented lime), which was inspired by and sourced from the Al Ahsa Region. Perfect for those who love refreshing, zesty fruit flavours, it is slightly sour with a smooth sweet flavour. After a long day in the office I couldn't resist trying the cold brew coffee flavour which was creamy and delicious, and made for a great post-work pick-me-up.

Abi Bakr As Siddiq Rd, Almasiaf, Riyadh 12466

Salve Artisan Gelato

For anyone looking to satisfy a gelato craving, Salve Artisan Gelato is worthy of a visit.

Serving up gelato made using natural and raw ingredients such as Madagascan vanilla, pistachios from Italy, and rich, high cocoa chocolate from Edcuador, Salve Artisan Gelato have nailed a selection of premium flavours.

I like to experiment, and I also have an undeniable sweet tooth, so naturally I chose a dessert flavoured dessert - tiramisu gelato! Made using fresh whipped mascarpone cheese flavoured with vanilla pods and a crumbling of Ladyfingers that have been dipped in Indian espresso and a dusting of cocoa powder, this gelato was satisfying in both depth of flavour and in texture. Rich and velvety, I still think about this scoop. Of course, one flavour is never enough, I added a taste of rich, dark chocolate, which was utterly divine, and worth a try!

Al Malqa, Al Dahnaa, Riyadh 11564