“Just when I thought our chance had passed. You go and save the best for last” – Vanessa Williams.
August 2023 saw a return to the Port Hat-trick. This meant Portballintrae, Portrush and Portstewart. After catching crabs in rockpools at Portballintrae and riding the Ghost Train at Barry’s (Curry’s) in Portrush, I completed the Port hat-trick in Portstewart. This town happens to be the home of the best ice cream in Northern Ireland, for me, the world…
I have been visiting Portstewart since the 1980s and almost every time, since about 1984, I had an ice cream at Morelli’s. You see, Northern irish people get fooled by this continental name – the fact it is called Morelli’s rather than “Wee Jimmy’s Ice Creams” already sells the place. It’s like it is really Italian gelato here. But actually, it is. It is the best! I’ve tried the others, and Morelli’s still wins.
Remember, Morelli’s opened in 1911. So it has survived 2 World Wars, the Northern Irish troubles, the Millennium and COVID.
If you want a more wacaday example of this Northern Irish fascination for foreign names, look no further than football. When the likes of Tony Scappaticci, Collen Tlemo and the ill-fated Colin Ramirez all joined Northern Irish League teams, those exotic lads took all the headlines! Colin Ramirez was one of the worst footballers I have ever seen live. He joined Belfast Glentoran in the 1990s and everyone raved because of his name. He was shite. Later though, he found his place and became a fireman. He just wasn’t a professional footballer. Morelli’s with its Italian name, is actually the real deal. Here in 2023, for the first time in THREE decades, it was time for me to eat a Morelli’s again.
I couldn’t believe it was three decades ago, but it was. How the hell did I get so old??? The last time I was in Morelli’s was Summer 1998 whilst watching the Milk Cup in Portstewart and Castlerock with cousin Gary. Since then, the 2000s passed by, the 2010s passed by and three years into the 2020s, I finally returned to Portstewart for a Morelli’s. It was worth the wait.
I order the Cookies and Ice Cream option which comes in a huge glass and costs £9.25. Sure, the prices have rocketed in 3 decades. But I was happy to pay that, I support local businesses and I love Morelli’s. I was here with Mum, Dad, nephew George and brother Marko. We all enjoyed the Morelli’s after a super day doing the triangle, the hat-trick, the trilogy. Portstewart was the last of the Port Hat-trick.
At times, I felt like crying here as times hadn’t changed that much. The facade of Morelli’s was now green on turqoise. I don’t remember how it looked 30 years ago as I was too busy munching ice cream and being a teenager. I aged 3 decades, backpacked 200 countries since I last sat down here to devour my Morelli’s.
Dad parked the car on the seafrontal promenade and he did well to get a space. This was a busy day on Northern Ireland’s north coast. We do it well there – the coast is beautiful. It’s a beauty that never waned or seemed in any way less significant despite my wacaday journeys around this sphere since then. The ice cream didn’t last long of course. I was quick to neck its sensations.
The girl who served me in Morelli’s was young and happy and bouyant. I liked that. The spirit lives on here. The dream continues. Morelli’s, like Barry’s is a Northern Irish institution. I had a fan on a wooden stick atop my cookies and cream sundae. George enjoyed that as he munched his cone.
For your information, here is the menu and the huge selection here at Morelli’s, the best ice cream in the world.
And my choice was this one –
COOKIES AND CREAM – £9.25
Toffee & chocolate sauce, a chocolate brownie, crushed Oreo’s, chocolate, cookie and vanilla ice cream, more crushed Oreos, fresh cream and topped off with a whole cookie.
The Ulster sun beat down on us as we sat outside admiring the coast. A sentimental walk ensued whilst George found solace and childhood joy in the town’s seafront toy shops. The same shops I frequented when I was his age. Portstewart, has certainly not lost any charm, nor has it succumbed to the evil “westernisation” or “Americanisation” which destroyed many a city on my voyages. But not little Portstewart.
This is the best ice cream in the world and I am totally biased here. But you need to try it. You need to try Morelli’s. On this falling of my star on coastal Portstewart as the sun finally gave way to its moonic mate, more memories flooded my global mind as I realised quite how magical it all is here. This is a beautiful town. As we drove away from the streets, the promenade and the famous Morelli’s, again, my heart pumped a beat of sentimentality unsure and uncertain of the next time, I’d have that pleasure of slipping a subsequent Morelli’s into my mouth. You have to enjoy these moments. It’s far too easy to cry. Thanks, Morelli’s.
Here are the contact details for the legendary Morelli’s:
53-56 The Promenade
Phone: 028 7083 2150
They are currently open every day Monday – Sunday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Hot Food is Available Throughout the day until 5 p.m.
New Menu! They are now bringing you more options for our freshly made Crepes and Waffles. They now have 16 Luxury Toppings and 10 Luxury Sauces available for our Award-Winning Ice Cream!
Don’t forget they are also fully licensed! They have a new wine list and Italy’s Premier Beer, Peroni available on draft!
I didn’t make a video of my ice cream or Morelli’s, I guess I was caught in the moment and enjoying it too much.
But I did make a short video while walking along the seafrontal promenade, also quite emotional: