affogato dessert in a mug on a table

The Most Iconic Italian Desserts to Try in 2024

The perfect end to a perfect meal requires a sweet treat! Though a savory meal is the best way to appeal to all of your senses, there is nothing better than sharing an incredible dessert with the one you love most – or maybe even keeping all the goods to yourself. Let’s review the absolute best Italian desserts you need to try by the end of 2024.


Of course, gelato is at the very top of our list. You’ve likely had gelato at some point in your life, especially if you’ve summered in Italy. Gelato is a lot like traditional ice cream, but there is a clear texture difference. You’ll notice this frozen treat is much smoother and has a denser mouth-feel than regular ice cream. You can purchase gelato at your local grocery store, but the best way to experience it is by visiting an Italian bakery or an authentic Italian restaurant.

Panna Cotta

The best desserts have cream and milk, and a panna cotta has plenty. Add in gelatin and sugar and you have one of the best desserts Italy has to offer! Panna cotta is molded in a small cup and served cold. This dessert is usually vanilla flavored, but you can flavor it however you’d like. Some people choose to go on the tart side with raspberry, or you can jazz it up with a coffee flavor!


This coffee-flavored treat is one of the most elegant and popular desserts on this list. Made with fresh espresso and rum soaked ladyfinger cookies, mascarpone cheese, and topped with a smattering of cocoa powder, tiramisu is a total delight to the senses. Think of a super soft cake that requires no baking and just a few ingredients. It can be finicky to get this right when making it at home, but your local Italian spot will surely serve up a slice of this dessert exactly the way it’s supposed to be made.


Clearly we love coffee over here! Affogato is an amalgamation of Italian favorites – gelato, espresso, and your favorite liquor (preferably amaretto). The warmth of the espresso melts the gelato slightly, offering a blended mix of temperatures that satisfy all of your cravings at once. This treat can be enjoyed during any season really and is super easy to put together right at home.


Biting into a cannoli is akin to biting down on a small piece of heaven. This pastry is a fried-tube shaped dessert stuffed with a sweet ricotta filling. You can also top this pastry with pistachios, chocolate chips, or other items for an extra satisfying crunch. This dessert is great for large parties or get-togethers!


Italians are great at making desserts that combine textures and temperatures. In Italy, a semifreddo is usually made with gelato, but it can be made with a combination of whipped cream and custard. Semifreddo means “half-frozen” in Italian – this dessert resembles an ice cream cake of sorts and is delicious on a hot summer day.

Join Us at Nico For The Best Meal in Boston

At Nico, we craft all of our dishes with authentic Italian flair, keeping up with tradition while adding a modern spin on some of your favorite dishes. Make a reservation with us today! For more information about large party accommodations, menu substitutions, and more, give us a call at (617) 742-0404.

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