When you walk up to Dolce Italy, you know it’s going to be good. The storefront isn’t immediately obvious — the shop sits in the corner of a small, old-looking shopping strip across from the East Ave Wegmans. When you come up to the door, you see a sign for a tailor’s shop, and enter a small hall with one door leading to the tailor, one door leading to Italian dessert heaven.
The store itself is a snug corner with few frills. You don’t need to focus on decour when your desserts are this good. Also, in true Italian fashion, the food is what really matters, with the store’s old-world charm a pleasant side effect. Display cases are full of dainty, delicious looking pastries. A small table sits off to the side. A fridge stocked with drinks and cakes is bordered by news articles about the shop’s opening. And in the back right there is the real gem that brought us to Dolce Italy: gelato.
Unlike ice cream, which lays flat and frozen in its cylindrical containers, the gelato is stacked in ribbony layers, a visual indication of how creamy and delicious the treat you are about to eat is. The sight reminded us of past trips to Italy (and reminded Ethan of a COVID-19-cancelled spring break trip) containing a tantalizing variety of gelatos. Ethan got stracciatella (sweet cream with chocolate pieces) and Nutella. Hailie got plain vanilla, but taste tested hazelnut and caramel. It was all fantastic. The hazelnut and caramel were subtly flavored in a way that made it feel authentic and, for the hazelnut, naturally nutty. Juxtapose that with Reece’s peanut butter ice cream, for example. Despite being small servings, it felt right — the gelato is so rich that any more would be excessive. The flavors were complex and deep, and the texture was creamy and smooth. It’s a tad more expensive than, say, Dairy Queen, but you get what you pay for: quality. It isn’t Pittsford Farms Dairy ice cream — there aren’t any crazy mix-ins, silly names, or massive waffle cones — but it also isn’t trying to be. Dolce Italy serves authentic Italian gelato, and it doesn’t need anything else to be good. Given that we’re in Rochester, New York, approximately 4,318 miles away from Italy (but only 40 miles from Italy, New York), we’re both willing to pay a bit more for a high-quality, authentic treat.
Ethan also got the focaccia, and on a past trip, one of the chocolate pastries. Like the gelato, they’re just as good as they look: light and flaky with delicious chocolate. The focaccia was a little greasy, but still very good, and less than $2.
Opened during the pandemic, the pastry shop couldn’t feel more genuine. It’s clear that from the owners to the employees, there is a real love of Italian food and culture. And you can taste it too.