We mightn’t have the sun (yet) but we do have the ice cream. Since Paolo and Donato’s Italian Deli opened on Tarleton Street last November, the city has had its first taste of honest, homemade Italian ice cream: and, whatever the weather, it’s reason enough to visit Williamson Square – splashing fountains or not.
We had a bit of a Twitter discussion the other day about whether you call iced popsicles ‘lolly ices’ or ‘ice lollies’. There was a definite split. Seems those from Bebington, Formby and incomers say the latter. Everyone who tries one of P&D’s frozen milk shakes and lollies really wouldn’t care what they were called. They’re just ace.
But it’s the creamy gelatos where P&D really comes into its own. Hostess, Mariana Nardiello, has quietly been revolutionising the way we think of soft scoop for the past eight months. For, as we are discovering, there is much, much more to it than Mr Whippy and Thorntons. If you’ve not tried a P&D ice cream yet, make it so this weekend.
Originally from Potenza – a searingly hot corner of southern Italy wedged between its toe and heel – Mariana has arrived on our shores complete with her secret family recipes: “We’re a family of chefs,” she tells SevenStreets, “and we all know the secret, but I can’t tell you, sorry!”
Really, we don’t care. All we need to know is that it’s here. And now, in its first summer, P&D’s chilled display case is rippling with mint chocolate, a decidedly adult bitter orange and dark choc, rich cherry, gelatos, pistachios, sorbets and frozen yoghurts. And they’re aren’t just in another class: they’re so far ahead of anything on offer in the city it’s, frankly, embarrassing.
“It’s just about having good, honest ingredients and ensuring they’re served properly,” says Mariana of her deli’s impressive array of around 20 flavour combinations, made fresh, on the premises, every day.
The key to a good Italian ice cream, Mariana says, is its consistency. Typically, they contain less butterfat, are softer and, with smaller ice crystals, they tend to be smoother too. Churning during the freezing process adds more air into the mix making it lighter. That’s why, at P&D’s, the gelatos are served with a palette knife, and teased and cajoled into cones rather than plonked unceremoniously in with a scoop.
Currently wowing their increasing legion of fans is P&D’s Cremino Gelato – a Nutella-based concoction that is the exact opposite of Six Weeks to OMG. And all the better for it. And at just £1.80 a scoop it would be a sin to resist.
“Food is one of – if not the most important – aspects in life for all Italian families and we wanted to share that belief with diners in Liverpool city centre,” Mariana says.
With brothers Paolo (Mariana’s husband) and Donato at the helm, creating wonderful Italian deli staples, cakes and coffees – and lots of Southern Italian-sourced ingredients – P&D’s is exactly the sort of place we need more of around here. An Italian that’s authentic, independent, honest and passionate. It could well be the saviour of this unloved corner of town.
Liverpool is dotted with flash Italians – all fine tailoring and overblown promises. As always, it’s the quiet ones you gotta watch.