Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dolce Neve - Fresh Snow on South First

As a kid growing up in West Michigan, I used to ski occasionally at a spot not far from my house. I thought it was the best downhill skiing anywhere. Then I moved to the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico - fresh powder covering peaks above the tree-line -  and discovered what actual downhill skiing was. Dolce Neve is like moving to the mountains. You think you've been eating gelato all this time, but it turns out you haven't. This is what gelato is supposed to be.

Walking through the bright pink front door, under the front-porch arbor, you're immediately engaged. The warmth of the people that run this place is so pervasive you almost feel like you've stumbled into the kitchen at an old friend's house. There's a substantial amount of chrome, but there's also weathered wood, mismatched chairs and a wide open kitchen. The effect is charming - homey but precise, with ample style but without pretension. This openness is part of what makes things work here - they really do do it in front of everyone, going back to raw ingredients (often locally sourced) and preparing them every step of the way.

Walk up to the counter, but don't order yet. You can't possibly know what you want. Try a few first. Try the Cassata if they have it - where the orange zings through the creamy countered against the dark chocolate. Or the Whiskey Pecan, which is such a balanced mix of flavors it kind of makes you wonder how people ate pecan ice cream without whiskey before. Or the Dolce Neve (It means fresh snow in Italian), where the slight kick of lemon zest livens up the sweet cream. It's like a playground in there, and it's important to try out all the swings.

The small size is ridiculously inexpensive, and is about as much gelato as I could hold. As is traditional with gelato you can mix whatever you'd like into that cup. I think the standard is two flavors, but I'd imagine Leo would let you go with three if you wanted. He not only graciously accommodated my kid's request for the gelato in a cup with a cone, he explained to her that in Milan, they called that a Pinocchio, because the cone looks just like Pinocchio's cap.

South First keeps getting better - Sugar Mamas got a little bigger and (I didn't think this could happen) a little better. Once Over has settled in even deeper and the patio feels even further from the middle of town than it did. Elizabeth Street Cafe is still making my favorite breakfast in town. And now Dolce Neve. I can't think of a better stretch of food, anywhere.

Dolce Neve on Urbanspoon


ValerieB said...
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Unknown said...

Hey Valerie - I found a couple of translations. I am a long way from an expert, but I think it's literal meaning is sweet snow but the idiom is used to mean fresh snow. May be a regional difference. An Italian native speakers out there?

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Looks really nice!

Eugen @ The Munch Ado Blog


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