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A taste of summer with Morelli Ice Cream

The Dunnes Stores Simply Better collection has a well-deserved reputation for award-winning food and drink. Behind the scenes it also champions small Irish producers, helping them to grow while doing what they do best. Today, we’re chatting with the family behind Morelli Ice Cream. Partner content with Dunnes Stores Simply Better.

Northern Ireland’s Morelli Ice Cream produces a delicious range of ice cream for the Dunnes Stores Simply Better range

It’s summer and most definitely ice cream season, so this month we caught up with Daniela Morelli of Northern Ireland’s Morelli Ice Cream. She told us about their award-winning ice creams and the family that has been making them for generations.

The Morelli family story is truly one worthy of a film script. Travel, adventure, love, wars and strange twists of fate all conspired to bring members of an Italian family to Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast a century ago.

Great Uncle Peter Morelli was one of nine brothers who left Italy on foot in the early 1900s in search of work. After time in Paris and London, Peter followed his brother Joe to Northern Ireland and opened a café in Coleraine. Renowned for his fish and chips, Peter also sold homemade ice cream in the summer months. He met and married a local girl called Annie and when they decided to expand the business Peter’s nephew, Angelo (Daniela’s grandfather) came over from Italy to help.

Five generations on and the Morelli family business has grown from those beginnings to a much-loved institution. Now, there are Morelli ice cream parlours and cafés across Northern Ireland serving “Ireland’s most famous Italian ice cream”.

Daniela Morelli’s great uncle Peter was the first to produce Morelli Ice Cream

It’s also possible to enjoy the Morelli’s award-winning ice cream at home as a few years ago, the family embarked on a collaboration with the Dunnes Stores Simply Better team. They launched a range of Irish-made ice creams onto Dunnes Stores shelves in 2022.

“It was quite a long time in the making,” Daniela, Morelli’s Sales & Marketing Manager, says. “It was probably a good year before we got on shelf, but the Simply Better team are great to work with. They’re very passionate about what they do and they really believe in the Simply Better brand. It was a great fit for us – and we could get passionate about it as well because it was a range specially made for them.

“It pushed our boundaries a little bit too, which we found exciting,” she adds. “I remember the day the Simply Better team came up to the office in Coleraine and we did a full tasting of the products that we had shortlisted for them. It was great to get the team’s feedback.”

That feedback was clearly positive as Morelli currently has five ice creams in the Simply Better range. “At the moment, we have Simply Better Irish Made Madagascan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Simply Better Irish Made Butterscotch Ice Cream, Simply Better Irish Made Caramelised Hazelnut Ice Cream, Simply Better Irish Made Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream and Simply Better Irish Made Mixed Irish Berries Ice Cream,” Daniela says. “The Madagascan Vanilla Bean is the best seller, closely followed by the Caramelised Hazelnut.”

And her own favourite? “I like the fruity ones,” she laughs. “The Mixed Irish Berries one is really nice. It’s made with fruit from Wexford Home Preserves, who also work with Simply Better, so it was kind of a collaboration. Their products are outstanding, they’re really good.”

Ice cream fans will be delighted to hear that the Morellis will soon add two more flavours to their Simply Better range – and they sound incredible. “We’ve got a Rum and Raisin and we’ve got a Triple Chocolate one,” Daniela says. “That one is made with Belgian chocolate pieces and chocolate sauce, and it has a chocolate base too, so it really is a triple whammy!”

The Simply Better Irish Made Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream is one of five ice creams in the range

Great ingredients are at the heart of Morelli ice creams, both in their own brand and their Simply Better range. As Daniela points out, they opt for the very best ingredients possible.

With such a focus on quality, it’s little surprise that Morelli ice creams have picked up a number of prestigious accolades over the years – including Great Taste Awards. “We’re really proud of that,” Daniela says. “At last year’s Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards, we won gold – jointly – for two products, our Simply Better Irish Made Caramelised Hazelnut Ice Cream and Simply Better Irish Made Butterscotch Ice Cream, which was brilliant.”

While it’s wonderful to win awards, Daniela points out that it’s feedback from the customers and the people who buy their products that really keeps them motivated. “The Simply Better shoppers will communicate with you and will tell you what ones are their favourites. It’s lovely to get that feedback,” she explains. “We did the PTSB Ideal Home Show with Simply Better last year and we got talking to lots of Dunnes customers. It was great.”

Not every family business gets to celebrate a centenary but the Morelli family’s passion for what they do and commitment to quality has seen the brand succeed. What does Daniela love most about what she does? “The free ice cream is good,” she laughs. “I guess, being a family business, it’s very rewarding because, obviously, it’s ours. No two days are the same and on the whole, ice cream is such a fun product to work with – you’re putting a smile on people’s faces.”

The Simply Better Irish Made Caramelised Hazelnut Ice Cream is one of the range’s bestsellers

These family traits are also why their growing relationship with the Simply Better team is such a success. “We’re all working towards the same goal,” Daniela says. “Working with the Simply Better team has taken us out of our comfort zone and made us try things that are a little bit different and it’s had a really positive outcome.

“I think the Simply Better team are quite creative, and they want their suppliers to be creative as well. That’s been a huge plus for us,” she adds. “Not only that, but I also like the idea that they collaborate. They put Simply Better producers in touch with each other to see if there’s anything that we can do together, or they make suggestions. We use products from a few of the other Simply Better suppliers like Co Meath’s What’s For Pudding? in our products as well. It’s nice to have the link and make new connections that way.

“The Simply Better team are very well respected and they’re very approachable. It’s like a big family when we all get together really, it’s nice,” Daniela adds. And if the Morellis know about anything, it’s family. And ice cream, of course.

The Morelli Ice Cream products are available in Dunnes Stores nationwide, click here to see more.