The selection at Paolo’s

Rome seems to have a gelato shop on every corner. Lounging at the sidewalk tables in front are some of the skinniest people you’ve seen in your life — fashionably sockless in their white jeans and Pradas, delicately scooping the national ice cream from a rainbow of plastic cups.

You have my permission to hate them. But take some time to also learn from them.

For starters, despite its rich taste, gelato is lower in fat (5-9 percent) than American-style ice cream (14-25 percent). It tastes good, but lacks that slimy-on-the-roof-of-your-mouth feel that makes a dish of premium ice cream so decadent. The process involves pumping less air into the mix and churning as it cools, making it smoother without needing so much fat.

Then there’s the size of a serving. On the way home from work, I stopped at the Atlanta, Ga., location of Paolo’s Gelato Italiano, which also has a shop in Charleston, S.C. I bought a small ice cream for $4.50. In thickly accented English, counter person (somebody’s mama mia) told me it was 5 ounces. The shop also offered a medium and large.

But even the small was considerably larger than the servings I saw dished up in Italy. My 5-ounce bowl is equivalent to about 150 milliliters. A web site that sells plastic gelato cups offered some of the smaller sizes I was used to seeing (and buying) in Italy, one with as few as 85 milliliters.

Paolo’s is genuine — the founder is from Italy — but hey, everybody’s got to build a business. And Paolo probably knows that Americans aren’t going to settle for a typically Italian-sized dish. He’s also adopted the American penchant for edible bowls and such that add to the caloric damage.

The $1.50 mini cone

But I will give him credit for his little $1.50 mini cone, which probably holds a couple of tablespoons at best. I’ve ordered them when feeling particularly vigilant.

This time, the lure of mounds snowy coconut gelato beckoned, which is why I ended up with the small. It was wonderful; smooth and creamy with lots of contrasting texture from the coconut.

The serving probably was more like 6-7 ounces, because Paolo’s finishes each dish off with the traditional Italian peak. Palolo’s website contains no nutritional information, so I used a number of other websites to tally the score.┬áSeveral assessed a 4-ounce serving as containing 157 calories, 6 grams fat, 24 grams carbohydrates and 2 grams protein.

But after scooping off the peak and savoring a few bites, I tossed the rest in the trash can. Sometimes wasting $2.25 worth of ice cream is the only rational thing to do.

For evbidence, I took a picture before I tossed it. What do you mean the picture proves nothing? Of course I’m telling the truth.

Small coconut

Just before it went in the trash