In our town, restaurants are a dime a dozen. Good restaurants, however, restaurants that don’t pull their meals out of the freezer in the back and slap them in the microwave, are much harder to find. They tend to get lost in a sea of mediocrity, and they’re not helped by the fact that we have the most restaurants per capita of any city in the state, and we’re maybe the fourth largest city in a state not exactly known for booming populations.
Despite that, my friend and I definitely found a keeper this weekend: Novo Dolce.
This yummy little gem is tucked away on a quieter side of town, just off the edge of the university and several older neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are making their re-emergence from years of neglect and being the bad side of town, and Novo Dolce is a tiny spot of loveliness that just highlights the potential this part of town has to be a jewel.
For starters, Novo Dolce is practically a dollhouse of a restaurant. Fewer than twenty tables inside, a nice combination of booths, four-tops, and bar-style seats, and a small patio area for enjoying spring mornings with espresso and summer evenings with gelato. Bakery racks behind the cash register showcase their breads; a cooler holds cold bottles of sodas, Pellegrino, and Orangina; and an ice cream case houses their selection of gelato.
The menu is relatively simple: a wide range of hot and cold beverages, salads, and sandwiches inspired by Italy and served on your choice of French bread, sourdough, or ciabatta, deli- or panini-style. Their breakfast menu is separate, but, judging by the listing on a menu board, the portions are just as satisfying as the lunch and dinner menu.
My friend and I both ordered sandwiches: a variety of thinly sliced Italian meats on ciabatta, topped with olive oil, oregano, lettuce, tomato, onion, and thinly-sliced mozzarella cheese. $6, the sandwiches came with a side; my friend and I both opted for the pesto salad. I wish I had thought to take a picture of all that fresh deliciousness served up neatly on square white plates, but I spaced, and by the time I was finished, there was nothing left to photograph at all. The bread was amazing, and the olive oil and oregano complemented the flavors of the meats without overwhelming them. And the freshness of everything! Novo Dolce even changed my mind about pesto, which was not previously on my list of things I voluntarily eat.
With all this to offer, plus free wifi and its proximity to our shop, I foresee many trips to Novo Dolce in the future for a delicious, healthy meal topped off with a scoop of icy gelato. My next meal there? Caprese salad, for certain!
For more info on Novo Dolce, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Novo-Dolce/208107259219851?sk=info