Have you heard of ice cream wars? Well this is the Gelato bar wars, live and in-running in Southampton’s town centre. While Sprinkles Gelato has been open a bit longer, when Tooti’s Gelato bar launched on to the scene in Bedford Place, the option for an ice cream fest this summer really heated up.
This is our attempt at settling the war once and for all. While of course you can visit both and alternate, for your average bod looking for a treat, decent customer service which is welcoming and an atmosphere that delivers for both children and adults alike then you need to know the score beforehand. Not forgetting the taste sensation which Gelato is renowned for. Which is why Squillions sent an army (one person) down to visit both and to really experience the Italian Gelataria and settle the dispute once and for all.
Isn’t Gelato Just Ice Cream?
The British love a foreign tongue, if I tell you that Gelato is just the Italian name for ice cream would that disappoint you too much? I hope not because there is a distinction between Gelato and ice cream. The main point is that both the Sprinkles Gelato and Tooti’s Gelato offering is true Italian ice cream more so than that manufactured by Americans and that glutinous recipe in general.
Gelato is less fattening, uses milk more instead of cream and generally contains more packed flavour due to the way it is made. An additional bonus is pretty much no egg yolk is used either to bind it, that’s left for other ingredients to toil with. Now while Sprinkles Gelato claims that their Gelato is made fresh on site, I’m more impressed that Tooti’s Gelato is a mixture of imported traditional Artisan Gelato from Italy and freshly made.
When I’m handing over money I want to pay for authenticity and the idea that the food I am eating comes from a foreign country. Let’s face it, what would you prefer, Mozzarella from Italy or a cow in Scotland, Feta cheese from Greece or a farm in Bristol? Argument ended quite succinctly I think.
Gelato, as well as delivering a flavour packed punch with each mouthful, is also softer, is a melt in the mouth experience and overall a better quality ice cream and due to it being less fattening (less than 5% fat in Tooti’s gelato) – with no scientific basis whatsoever other than less sugar and cream is used – you could probably eat twice as much in one sitting. And sitting down is something you can definitely do more of at Tooti’s Gelato bar, a situation many people complain about regarding Sprinkles Gelato and the lack of places to park your bum while you enjoy your dessert and other tasty delights.
What’s On The Gelataria Menu?
I’ve always been one to not worry too much on price if the experience of dining at a restaurant is worth it. To be honest you can’t tell much difference between the costings of the two Gelato bars, while Sprinkles is priced a little higher across the menu and Tooti’s servings are a little larger, aside from that not much separates them.
The variation in menus is also not too visible, only to go back to the fact that real alcohol is used at Tooti’s but not at Sprinkles. A major downfall for any student in town looking for a little more enjoyment from their ice cream. As an ex student I know where I’d be putting my much saved pound coins and that’s at Bedford Place. Sundaes, crepes, hot drinks, smoothies and shakes, soft drinks and waffles are on offer at both but Tooti’s has the juices and the balloons.
Both cater for the lactose intolerance, however both cannot guarantee nuts are not in all of their products so best to ask before ordering if you have an allergy. Scoops of Gelato are priced the same as are toppings but the Tooti’s sauce is really something else. A tip, get a double helping of that in-house product!
Children, Adults Or Both?
With the Universities in town and the working population on the front door it’s important to realise who you’re customers are and what they’re after. We feel that for a forward thinking Gelato bar, Tooti’s has this pretty much sewn up. If you take a quick butchers at the Sprinkles menu, it clearly states no alcohol in any of their products.
Now while that’s great for children – naturally, it’s not so for adults which is why Tooti’s has an alcohol license. As previously mentioned and it’s an important factor to remember, Gelato has the ability to release far more flavour, far quicker than your average ice cream. So if a supplier of true Gelato ice cream can satisfy the quench of an adult’s desire for truly great tasting and flavoured gelato that hits the senses, then the combination of real flavour and real alcohol – not substitutes, does the job far better.
When you go to a bar do you want Amaretto that is Amaretto or something that tastes like it, what about rum or a pina colada? Exactly! So while Sprinkles caters mainly for children and their parents, Tooti’s goes all out by offering a section for the over 18s serving until midnight every night which attracts the students and workers and the children and parents get their arena and menu to enjoy also.
Sprinkles Decor Versus Tooti’s Atmosphere
Now I’ve been to the ice cream outlets in central London, Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s and other outlets so I have a good idea of what is required when you wish to dine. A clean environment, a welcoming spacious cafeteria and most importantly somewhere to discuss the world’s problems with mates and family and really enjoy a good time. Being able to sit down with friends and enjoy a gelato treat, waffle, sundae or cocktail is very important, which is where Tooti’s Gelato bar wins hands down. It is roomy, functional and airy with seating both inside and outside in an enclosure facing the street.
What is more is the elegant decor that smacks of a cross between 1920’s America and Italian Al Fresco. If a logo is the first impression you get of a business, then the simple yet effective design speaks volumes and screams of decadence over the Neapolitan style Sprinkles Gelato bar, American barber shop presentation. When you’re a front facing business – and being a restaurant is, then initial looks count for everything. Taste and service is what brings you back.
Tooti’s Customer Service And Attitude
Now I’ve read some truly awful reviews about the customer service and health and hygiene at Sprinkles, none of which was resident when Squillions visited, so you’ll have to head over to Trip Advisor to read the claims of not washing hands inbetween actions or the McDonald’s type service on offer. Tooti’s again comes out on top however, service with a smile, helpful, informative and very knowledgeable about the menu’s ingredients. Even balloons handed out to the children.
It’s the little things that make a difference. If you can visit a Gelato bar in Southampton, receive fast service, a smile, a knowledgeable waitress or server and great tasting, flavour packed Gelato and sundaes then you’re immediately booking your return trip.
Tooti’s Versus Sprinkles – And The Online Verdict
The vital ingredient to any review is to not take our word for it. Does Tooti’s Gelato bar out do Sprinkles Gelato on all fronts? Probably not but I feel overall yes maybe Tooti’s can more than rival its older competitor. Being fresh on the scene it’s evident that Tooti’s weighed up their competitors and sought to deliver where Sprinkles was failing and they have been. So on atmosphere, seating and providing a more than adequate upmarket decor Tooti’s wins hands down.
On customer service too they deliver. Squillions decided to parry our findings with those on some of the most popular review sites and found our thoughts resembled that of the general Southampton public. It’s one thing being popular but if you can’t provide enough seating for your customers, ultimately Sprinkles loses out. There are a variety of complaints about Sprinkles Gelato bar that there isn’t enough seating. Even when Tooti’s is full, the general self serving knowledge surrounding the amount of covers they can turn around in any one hour makes the whole gelato bar experience that much more easy to provide.
For instance, if you don’t have enough seating this presents the management of a restaurant with a catch 22 situation, too busy, long queues and you lose custom, the likelihood of those customers returning soon is slim, until they forget why they didn’t of course. So they go to a rival, that being Tooti’s which in our view is a far superior Italian Gelato dining experience to savour.
The knock on effect is people loitering, longer waiting times and then the staff feel under pressure, they cut corners on health issues and customer service and the whole customer service experience is dragged down purely for one reason, lack of ability to provide the right seating for the demand and turn the right amount of covers. So for us, based on menu options, variety, real flavour and not fake, ability to provide seating and knowing menu covers and turn around, a relaxed customer facing environment and top notch decor, not forgetting the balloons, Tooti’s is the Gelato bar to visit in Southampton!