Solferino Cafe (38 Wellington East, at Church, 416-364-8478) Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm (hours will change in winter). Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
It all started when I was doing a cooking apprenticeship in Ottawa and discovered a fantastic gelato shop at the end of my street. I must have gone there several times a week for five months straight.
Then I moved back to Toronto and discovered La Paloma, which only fed my addiction. And more recently Dolce Gelato opened a few blocks away from where I live.
So when I was assigned to review Solferino, naturally I was thrilled. The gelato-coffee shop has a rotating menu of 48 flavours (all homemade), of which 24 are available at any one time, plus great coffee and a selection of Dufflet pastries.
A few weak spots on the just-over-a-year-old café's roster are fruit sorbettos like blandish mango and raspberry (La Paloma and Dolce do these very well). However, not-so-common flavours guanabana, guava and lulo are intensely authentic. I find the avocado less exciting and a little pasty and the vanilla downright tasteless.
But Solferino does better chocolate than most other gelato shops. Belgian chocolate with dates is the richest and most velvety of the three variations available on the days we go. Mochaccino, coffee, coconut, lemon and Skor are all highly satisfying.
Solferino scores points for relaxed ambience, stylish decor and bubbly service. But the best thing about it is the portion sizes: small ($4), medium ($5) and true gelato lovers' large ($7) with three flavours.
Other shops overcharge for tiny scoops of gelato, but Solferino dishes up gargantuan bowls of the stuff.