I wouldn’t last long in Italy. They’re just too damn good at all the things you’re supposed to have sparingly: red wine, strong coffee, pasta, pizza. Then there’s the myriad of desserts: cannoli, tiramisu and gelato. Sure, “everything in moderation” is a nice idea, but I could only offer you a deaf ear.
My alternate plan is to stay alive and (sort of) well, right here in sunny Nottingham, where you can enjoy many of the delights of Italy while tucking into the latest copy of this here magazine. We’ve got great pizza, loads of places for a decent coffee, and now – with the opening of Dolcino on Beastmarket Hill – we can get some absolutely excellent gelato, too.
The interior is dotted with nods to Italy, including a sparkling black Vespa and a turquoise colour theme throughout, inspired by the iconic bicycle brand, Bianchi. Founded in Milan, it’s the world's oldest bicycle-making company still in existence.
Tradition, respecting artisan methods, and generally keeping things real is intrinsic to Dolcino. A truly family-run business, you only need to go back a couple of generations to find the entrepreneurial Franscesco (snr) working the streets of Rome in the fifties, blending the gelato himself with simple, locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients; tenets that still underpin the current business. I’m assured that – despite Wikipedia stating the contrary – gelato is not Italian for ice cream and, not wanting to argue with an Italian about Italian food, I asked what the differences are.
Francesco (jnr) kindly explained that gelato contains less fat than ice cream. It’s churned more slowly too, which produces less aerated and luxurious plumes of loveliness. Because of the lower fat content, you can serve it at a warmer temperature, which is more pleasant as you don’t get the dreaded brain-freeze.
There are loads of flavours to choose from. We sampled the vanilla, the Snickers, the coconut, the lemon cheesecake, the hazelnut, and the lemon sorbet. Don’t judge; there were a few of us on the sampling team. All the tastes under the Dolcino roof are exceptionally good, full of flavour and unbelievably moreish.
Sundaes and gelato-topped waffles are also available if you’re looking for a bigger dessert. We were also treated to a lovely coffee; beans roasted on-site, of course. If you’ve never tried one, I urge you to sample the affogato (£2.50); a double shot of espresso and a scoop of gelato in the same tub. So. Good.
Head upstairs for awesome views across the Market Square in one direction, and awesome views of the gelato being handmade in the other. Or just take a couple of scoops in a tub, and go frolic in the fountain. Weather permitting.
Dolcino, 7 Beastmarket Hill, Nottingham, NG1 6FB.