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Gelato in Uccle

When the summer heat strikes, it’s time for an ice cream. Although it remains a hotly contested title, one might argue that no one knows ice cream better than the Italians. And of the Italian gelato in Brussels, a certain block in Uccle pits two top-quality producers against one another.

To begin, Glacier Zizi.

Any self-respecting Brussels parents in the past half-century have brought their children here to satisfy ice cream cravings. The family-run shop was established in 1948 and named after its founder, Izzi, who was teasingly called “Zizi” (French slang for a certain male body part).

Although born in Brussels, the family’s heritage was Italian, and they began with only three flavours: chocolate, vanilla and banana. Their shop now offers a formidable choice (occasionally including a personal favourite, peanut) and has introduced options for diabetics, as well as rice milk-based products.

In 1990, not half a block away, Il Gelato opened, featuring more Italian-style ice cream in an abundance of flavours. Neither shop is afraid of a little adventure. Il Gelato has offered green tea, sesame and buffalo milk ice cream, while a recent trip to Zizi featured kriek or mojito sorbet.

When it comes to décor, Zizi has more of a classic ice cream shop feel – warm colours, a homey ambiance and a touch of their original 1950s setting. Il Gelato has squarely taken the “chic” corner of the market. You enter by the freezer, which displays drool-inducing undulating piles of gelato. The seating area features lots of dark browns and cool greys and funky light fixtures.

Both shops have expanded – Il Gelato more so, with several other outlets around Brussels, including in the Bois de la Cambre. Glacier Zizi features a branch in Waterloo, or you may be lucky enough to catch their ice cream truck making the rounds of town.

But even after years of side-by-side comparison on Rue Vanderkindere, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to choose a favourite.


This review was originally published in Flanders Today