Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Last month when I was in Europe I went to Santini. Now, when you think of a name like “Santini” most people conjure visions of “The Great Santini” which sounds a lot like the Great Houdini with illusions of terrific magic. But that’s not the case unless you are looking for the magic of great Italian-style ice cream proudly made by a Greek family in Lisbon, Portugal.
There are many great ice cream shops in Lisbon, but ask anyone which is their favorite and they’ll most likely name one outside the city. That one would be Santini—in the suburb of Cascais—which has been serving tempting Italian-style ice creams since the late 1940s. Customers used to travel to Cascais about 40 kilometers outside Lisbon for their frozen treats, but now there’s one in the Chiado District in the center of Lisbon. It opens its doors at 10AM and unlike the shop in Cascais, it does not close in winter. So for the lucky city-siders there is Santini ice cream throughout the year and so much more accessible than in the past except for the lines that wrap around the block even during the chill of winter.
What Makes These Ice Creams So Special?
To start with there are no artificial flavorings (if it says it’s of a certain fruit, it really is) and they’re all made on that same day. They’re so good and so tasty it’s hard to even describe. For the Lisbon branch there will be new flavors such as Ginger and Purple Passion Fruit to add to the Cinnamon, Green Tea, and other old favorites such as Raspberry and Mango. My favorites are Chocolate, Milk Caramel, Lemon, Toasted Almond, Coconut and Old Fashion Vanilla. Yes, I tasted them all. More great news is that they also serve the best chocolate cake in the world which has become a popular choice on the colder days. I tried that ala mode. On those winter days it is also likely to be accompanied by Nespresso coffee. The service is quick and efficient and the prices are very reasonable.
Santini Ice Cream
Rua do Carmo, 9
1200 Lisboa, Portugal