• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Italian ice-cream favourite Alfonso’s opens first shop in Witney


Oct 12, 2022

An artisan gelateria which has won rave reviews across Oxfordshire has opened a branch in Witney.

Italian-born Lewis Ratto had such fond memories of eating ice-cream in his hometown of Rome that when he moved to the UK he decided to start a food truck.

The tuk tuk in Oxford's Summertown was a firm favourite with locals and was so popular it led to him opening his first shop in Woodstock in December 2020.

Now he supplies the cafe at Burford Garden Centre as well as plenty of other restaurants and cafes around the county.

Mr Ratto said: "I hadn't thought of Witney until I visited the town early 2021 to visit my coffee supplier UE and had a walk around.

READ ALSO: Nurse who fell asleep three times during night shifts suspended

"I really liked the feel of it and thought it would be a perfect location for an Alfonso shop, as there wasn't anything comparable at the time.

"The unit on Marriotts Walk was available and it fit exactly what I was looking for, with the location getting lots of sun and with plenty of outdoor seating."

He got planning permission to redevelop the unit – formerly Whittard – last year but ‘hit a roadblock’ with the signing of the lease.

He said: "It was a bit of a long process but I'm happy we stuck it out and have now been able to open.

"We've had a great reception so far and everyone that has come through the door has been incredibly friendly and supportive."

Mr Ratto – whose middle name is Alfonso – moved to the UK aged 17 and attended The Marlborough School in Woodstock.

After finishing his degree in chemistry in 2015, he took on a job as a lab technician by day and at night began experimenting with recipes.

He started Alfonso’s in 2018 from his home in Kidlington and then took his ice cream tuk tuk to Summertown.

Today his numerous flavour creations are freshly made every day.

He said: "We have our classic flavours that are available year round as well as our specials which we change along with the season and time of the year.

"Look out for our Pumpkin and Pecan Praline for late October and Mince Pie flavour around Christmas.

"Along with our gelato, we also do speciality coffee, our homemade hot chocolate and our pastry selection.

READ ALSO: Investigation after traveller suffers suspected cardiac arrest – and station defibrillators don't work

"We'll also be bringing more of our in-house produced Italian food delicacies as the year goes on."

The company also caters events and can bring along their vintage food truck.

Mr Ratto said: "We were very lucky to find some amazing staff just before opening but as the season warms up so there will be more summer and weekend job opportunities."

However, he added: "The business is ‘unseasonal’ and although sales rocket during a heatwave, customers also buy gelato in the rain and snow."

Read more from this author

This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

Profile: Miranda Norris Journalists news from the Oxford Mail