Best Local Ice Cream Shop

Readers' Pick

First place:

Gelati Celesti

Various locations

Second place: Charm School

Third place: Jimer's Frozen Custard

"Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos."

This entirely true phrase appears on walls and T-shirts inside Gelati Celesti, the ice cream shop that has steadily grown into a Richmond empire with five locations in the area and a truck that makes its way to festivals and events around town.

Gelati Celesti has been churning up some of Richmond's favorite ice cream since 1984, and it is everything you want it to be. The spaces feel like your classic, homey ice cream parlors, with baseball-cap-clad high school and college students patiently doling out samples and scooping efficiently into house-made waffle cones. Kid-friendly flavors like birthday cake and Oreo appeal to all ages, and those looking for a less sweet, more sophisticated experience may opt for rotating flavors like lavender or lemon custard.

"We use a process that's a little different than most," says owner Steve Rosser, who bought the company in 2010. "We minimize the amount of air that's whipped into the ice cream so it's denser and creamier, with a wonderful mouth feel to it."

Last summer, Rosser bought Boyer's Ice Cream and Coffee on Grove Avenue. The shop had already been selling Gelati's ice cream since 2008, so the transition required only a quick interior remodeling and re-branding with the Gelati Celesti name. The first location outside of the Richmond area made its debut in Virginia Beach this spring.

New flavors constantly make their way into the rotation, like the recent blueberry-lavender, so keep an eye on Gelati's Facebook and Instagram accounts for regular updates.

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