Wow. Sometimes you go somewhere that just gets it right. Thanks to our friends at www.phxfoodnerds.com, I learned about this Mesa Gelato shop and Deli. I want to stress the Deli part, because I haven’t been even tried the Gelato yet! I have already been here four times in the past two weeks since my first visit! It’s that good.
Ok, now that I’ve expressed how good it is, let me tell you why. Simplicity. Lots of restaurants talk about keeping it simple, but Walter at Dolce Vita really understands what that means. He imports all his ingredients straight from Italy, from the amazing Finocciato (Fennel Salami) and Bresaola (Air cured beef) to proper Gorgonzola Picante and Pecorino Tuscano. As a guy who really appreciates good cured meat and proper cheese, this place tugs at my heartstrings.
The grocery is stocked with few ingredients, but those ingredients are also all straight from Italy. Items may seem expensive, but if you think 30 dollars for a small bottle of Aged Balsamic Vinegar is pricey, it’s probably because you haven’t tried it. Every bite I’ve had and every product I’ve bought comes with Walter’s recommendation, which has not yet led me astray (try the Tuscan pappardelle pasta he sells there. Best dry pasta I’ve ever had).
The menu at the deli is small. This is a good thing! There are a handful of specials, pastas and sandwiches, each with 3-4 ingredients max. A few slices of quality Speck or Sopresatta , a little cheese, arugula, olive oil.. When the ingredients are good, you don’t need a giant pile of them. The raviolis are a specialty of the house as well.
This last visit, I told Walter to bring whatever was good, and he obliged.
We started with a daily special. Pumpkin Raviolis. Again, simple and amazing. The pasta’s texture was silky smooth, as was the pumpkin filling, and the dish was finished with brown butter and sweet crumbled amaretti cookie.
Next up was a delicious cheese platter. These were all Italian cheeses served with Balsamic reduction and an Apricot Jam as well as fresh warm toasted baguette. The cheeses were Bochetto al Tartufo(Black Truffle Cheese), three kinds of Pecorino, Mozzarella Afumicata(smoked), a red wine barrel soaked cheese who’s name I don’t recall, and Gorgonzola Dolce with a Acacia Honey. Killer cheese plate! If I was a hair more into Italian cheeses it would even top Wedge and Bottle’s.
We were full and getting ready to leave, when the woman working there (who’s name I didn’t get) told us to sit down because she was making us something special.
What she brought were fresh baked Sfogliatella. It was piping hot out the oven, and incredibly flaky and light. We were told to wait a few minutes before enjoying them, since the center was still molten. When I did finally pick up the dessert, I was surprised how heavy it was. The center was filled with a lemony, creamy, vanilla custard. Not too sweet, and just right to end the evening with. When I asked about the Sfogliatella, Walter said it took nearly 2 years of trying to make the dough and throwing it out before they got the technique right.
The dessert, just like everything else I’ve had here is simple and delicious. When I told Walter I thought his sandwich was amazing, and he abruptly stopped me and said, “No! Not amazing. Normal. This is what normal should be. Everyone is just used to bad food.” Couldn’t have said it better.
Gelato Dolce Vita
5251 East Brown Road #104 Mesa, AZ 85205