A day after returning from Rome in September, we were having gelato withdrawal symptoms (it’s a common occurrence, just ask your doctor). So when B’s family started talking about a place called Vanilla Joe’s — which has recently scooped Scotland’s Best Gelataria at the Italian Awards — our curiosity rumbled along with our tummies.
So, with our tans still glowing, we zoomed down to Irvine to try out this famous ice cream joint. We walked round the corner and — at two o’clock on a Sunday — there was a queue out the door. A good sign, right? We waited to get inside, the glimpses of ice cream flavours whetting our appetite, then finally we were in front of the menu.
Chocolate waffles, warm cookie dough, freshly sugared doughnuts… and an unbeatable selection of ice cream that you could top with hot Nutella, caramel or fudge. Thank God the queue was long, because we needed that time to decide! From bitter lemon to salted caramel, there was both fruity or naughtier tastes to satisfy any palette.
After much humming and hawing, we decided on Nutella, cookie dough and Scottish tablet (£3.30 for that huge tub!) And honestly — after two weeks in Italy, and a gelato tour of Rome — Vanilla Joe’s was right up there. It was almost as good as Rome most famous gelataria Geolitti (which we basically lived in whilst we were in the city).
So, after years of lamenting the lack of ‘real’ Italian ice cream on the west coast of Scotland, us weegies can finally make the pilgrimage to Irvine. There may be a queue when you arrive, you might spend half an hour choosing a flavour, but remember — nobody has ever regretted driving to the ends of Ayrshire for amazing ice cream.
Find the award-winning Vanilla Joe‘s gelataria on Montgomery Street, Irvine. Prices start from £1.85 for a tub of ice cream.