I've known of Roba Dolce! for some time thanks to the freezer at Dave's Market. I knew they were from Providence. I knew they made gelato! I did not know about they're Italian-styled cafes on Thames in Newport, and Thayer in Providence.
During a recent four-location food bender on Thayer street, where I pumped myself so full that I had a hard time sitting in my car, I had to finish my run with some espresso. Too bad I chose to get said espresso from Roba Dolce! Too bad that espresso came in the form of an affogato. Affogato literally means 'drowned.' I know this because I used Babelfish. And that's pretty much what they do. They drown a healthy scoop of gelato in a shot of espresso. I got chocolate. Just what I needed.
Roba Dolce! makes some of the best gelato I've ever had. It's soft, rich, creamy, and bursting with all the right flavors. For example, the chocolate is a deep, darker chocolate flavor. It's not the most sweet thing on the planet and for a real chocolate lover, that's fantastic. Combined with a well-pulled espresso, this was one dynamite affogato.
Also on the menu was cappuccino. He free-poured it! A real barista! So impressive. Apparently, in the recent Starbucks re-training sessions, they were supposedly going to be taught how to free-pour a drink. Well, all I ever see is spooning. Not here, though. It was a very good cappuccino. One of the better I've had in Rhode Island. They used a lighter roast, how European of them, instead of the darker roasts popular in this country. Not better or worse, but my own proclivities lie in darker varieties. I preferred Coffee Exchange.
Coffee Exchange cannot hold a candle to what else is available in Roba Dolce!, though. A wide selection of scrumptious gelato, sandwiches, panini, and the self-styled "best lasagna on Thayer Street." A large variety of cakes, pastries, the omni-present tiramisu, and sweetbread-gelato sandwiches would keep my busy for weeks. This is a very unhealthy place.
So in conclusion, I didn't have enough even for a Quickview, but I'm definitely going back. A full review will come soon, but don't wait! Go! It was really good. A very wide selection, fun atmosphere, even if the refrigeration unit shakes the floor like a 4.7, and some of the best gelato in New England make Roba Dolce! a must-try.
As of February 16th, 2008, Roba!Dolce is out of business. The eviction notice was placed on the door and referenced a law suit between the owner of the cafe and what I imagine is some investment group or perhaps the owner of the property. Reagrdless, it's unfortunate. This adds to the growing number of vacancies on Thayer and it's kind of scary.
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178 Angell St
Providence, RI 02906