Located on the lower ground floor of Dawson Street, Dolce Sicily is easy to miss. The worn down staircase leads you to a small door with a faded ‘Come in, We’re open’ sign on it. Dolce Sicily (or “Sweet Sicily”) offers a variety of drinks and desserts from the Mediterranean island of Sicily.
This Sicilian café is a hipster heaven (especially for any Italians feeling particularly homesick). The main door opens into a maze of little rooms with low-ceilings filled with the aroma of strong coffee, freshly baked cakes and loud Italian conversations. The counter has a vibrant display of homemade tarts, cakes, pies, and sandwiches.
It is a busy Sunday afternoon and we squeeze into a tiny corner as we wait for a table. The café is incredibly small, and the servers move past us quickly with trays of steaming cups of coffee and plates piled with scrumptious looking Italian pastries. Luckily, the wait is short and our smiling Italian server leads us into a tiny room tightly packed with patrons.
The pastel green colour scheme and the rustic wooden furniture reminds you of a charming 1950s tea shop. “We call it Tiffany green in Italy,” my Italian friend, Benedetta, says referring to the colour of the chairs. The walls have a charming butterfly wallpaper that ties in nicely with the butterfly motifs on the menus.
Although there isn’t much light coming in through the windows because we are below street level, the lighting inside is bright enough to add another layer of cheeriness to the interior.
Our server, a lovely Italian girl from Sicily, takes our order. Two espressos and a pistachio cannolo, cannoli if plural, is a typical Sicilian dessert. The name means ‘little tube’ referring to its shape. The dough is fried into the shape of a tube and filled with sweet fillings, usually made of ricotta.
Service is fast and the presentation is Instagram-worthy. The espresso is bitter and rich in flavour. “Just like home,” Benedetta says as she takes another sip.
The cannolo is fresh and delicious. So delicious that I often found myself craving another one several days after the visit. This ricotta-filled delight is flavoured with a generous dusting of chopped pistachios and powdered sugar. The sweetness of the filling makes it the perfect complement to the bitterness of the espresso. I am not usually a fan of black coffee, but the sweetness of the cannolo helps cut through the bitter bite of the espresso.
The servers were chatty and welcoming, but because it is a Sunday and the café is full, we were rushed through our meal. As soon as we finish, our plates and espresso cups disappear and we’re presented with the bill. €9 for two espressos and a pistachio cannolo, which I find to be a reasonable amount for an authentic Italian experience. Overall, it was a good experience and I am already planning my next trip there.
While it’s not immediately noticeable because it sits right below the Design House, Dolce Sicily is just a short walk from Grafton Street, making it a great place for a quick mid-afternoon coffee break to refuel after hours of shopping. The best way to find it is to keep an eye out for a decorative lime green chair and table that sits right next to the staircase.
Dolce Sicily is owned by a Sicilian couple and most of the staff is Italian, making it an authentic Italian experience. The atmosphere is friendly and the service is quick. The café and the food are both photo worthy if you’re looking to up your Instagram game. The interiors are pretty and homely, but the size of the café is small. The tiny rooms are packed with so many tables and chairs that it can get slightly claustrophobic.
It was difficult to sit down and have a leisurely conversation because there were so many people squeezed into one tiny room and the conversations were very loud. Plus we were presented with the bill as soon as we finished our meals, but that could be because it was around lunchtime on a Sunday.
In an initiative to go green, the café has started offering 10 per cent off on coffee if you bring your own reusable cup. Apart from the variety of desserts, Dolce Sicily also offers breakfast, lunch, salad, all day paninis and various types of coffee and tea to choose from.
Dolce Sicily is open from 7:30am to 8:30pm Sundays to Wednesdays, 7:30am to 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 9:00am to 9:00pm on Saturdays.
Value for Money: 7.5/10