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Modern Italian treats at Punto Dolce

Millefoglie, Roman maritozzo and Sicilian cannoli in Seongsu-dong

Punto Dolce’s millefoglie, called diplomatica, features two stacks of impossibly thin layers of puff pastry that swaddle a lush filling of salted caramel and vanilla-rich cream. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Punto Dolce’s millefoglie, called diplomatica, features two stacks of impossibly thin layers of puff pastry that swaddle a lush filling of salted caramel and vanilla-rich cream. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
When husband-and-wife team -- Francesco Mannino and Kim Soo-joo -- opened Punto Dolce in eastern Seoul’s hip Seongsu-dong last December, the concept was clear -- to fuse owner-chef Mannino’s extensive experience as a pastry chef with his Italian roots.

“Our idea is to create a point where people can come to enjoy Italian modern desserts,” Mannino, 46, explained why he and his wife christened their store “punto” which means “point” in Italian in an e-mail interview.

“We have developed this concept of modern Italian desserts which are inspired by Italian classics and ingredients,” managing director Kim, 39, said on their personal take on classics like Sicilian cannoli and Roman maritozzo. 

Punto Dolce’s millefoglie, called diplomatica, features two stacks of impossibly thin layers of puff pastry that swaddle a lush filling of salted caramel and vanilla-rich cream. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Punto Dolce’s millefoglie, called diplomatica, features two stacks of impossibly thin layers of puff pastry that swaddle a lush filling of salted caramel and vanilla-rich cream. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
According to Punto Dolce’s official Instagram account, Kim worked at a fashion company in Korea and then as a wedding cake designer in London before running a cake studio in China while Mannino racked up experience as a pastry chef at Pierre Herme Paris and as executive pastry chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London and the Four Seasons Hotel in Beijing.

Kim revealed that she and Mannino first entertained the idea of their own dessert shop while working in China.

Finally in 2020, Kim and Mannino moved to Korea and opened their take on the Italian pasticceria.

Christened Punto Dolce, which roughly translates to “sweet spot,” this dessert shop specializes in Italian treats including a particularly dreamy take on millefoglie.

“Millefoglie is a very popular cake in Italy,” said Mannino. “Normally it is vanilla flavored but I wanted to give it a touch of southern Italy with orange blossom.”

Instead of referring to their take on the multi-layered puff pastry as millefoglie, at Punto Dolce this delicate dessert is called “diplomatica” and features two stacks of impossibly thin layers of puff pastry that swaddle a lush filling of salted caramel and vanilla-rich cream.

Orange blossom water adds a light fragrance to this delectable flaky treat.

In addition to millefoglie, one will also find maritozzo – a classic cream bun that hails from Mannino’s native Rome.

Customarily enjoyed for breakfast in Rome, this treat goes as far back as the Middle Ages. 

At Punto Dolce, the classic cream-filled brioche called maritozzo is amped up with pistachio paste. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
At Punto Dolce, the classic cream-filled brioche called maritozzo is amped up with pistachio paste. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
At Punto Dolce, the classic cream-filled brioche is amped up with pistachio paste from a town in Sicily.

“We use pistachio paste from Bronte which is believed to be the best area where pistachios are grown in Italy,” Mannino explained. 

At Punto Dolce, the classic cream-filled brioche called maritozzo is amped up with pistachio paste. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
At Punto Dolce, the classic cream-filled brioche called maritozzo is amped up with pistachio paste. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
The brioche boasts the feather-light texture of cotton candy, while the equally light cream is studded with berries. A sweet and simultaneously tart swab of compote is tucked away in the center of this bouffant treat. 

Punto Dolce often offers an additional variation of cannoli, sometimes using pear or green tea to give dessert lovers a slightly different twist to the popular Italian dessert. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Punto Dolce often offers an additional variation of cannoli, sometimes using pear or green tea to give dessert lovers a slightly different twist to the popular Italian dessert. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Then there is cannoli.

Hailing from Sicily, this deep-fried, ricotta-filled pastry is given its due at Punto Dulce.

Mannino revealed that he adheres to tradition when crafting the dough for the cannoli.

“The dough is a traditional Sicilian recipe,” Mannino said, explaining that he uses Marsala wine and cinnamon, as is custom. 

At Punto Dolce, the dough for cannoli is crafted using traditional ingredients like Marsala wine and cinnamon, before being shaped into dainty tubes and deep-fried. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
At Punto Dolce, the dough for cannoli is crafted using traditional ingredients like Marsala wine and cinnamon, before being shaped into dainty tubes and deep-fried. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
After crafting the dough, shaping it into classic dainty tubes and deep frying them, he fills them with an impossibly light ricotta cream amped up with chocolate pearls, candied orange peel and orange blossom water.

The resulting treat is not-too-sweet, incredibly aromatic and very light on the palate. 

Christened Punto Dolce, which roughly translates to “sweet spot,” this dessert shop specializes in Italian treats (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Christened Punto Dolce, which roughly translates to “sweet spot,” this dessert shop specializes in Italian treats (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
In addition to their Sicilian cannoli, Punto Dolce often offers an additional variation of cannoli, sometimes using pear or green tea to give dessert lovers a slightly different twist to the popular Italian dessert.

Mannino also revealed Punto Dolce’s line-up changes from season to season.

“So stay tuned for new items,” he added.

Kim also revealed future plans to add a delivery service. 

Husband-and-wife team -- Francesco Mannino and Kim Soo-joo -- opened Punto Dolce in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, last December. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Husband-and-wife team -- Francesco Mannino and Kim Soo-joo -- opened Punto Dolce in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, last December. (Photo credit: Soojoo Kim)
Punto Dolce

1F, 668-17 Seonsu-dong 1-ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul

(070) 8230-3303; @puntodolce_official

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Cannoli costs 7,800 won, diplomatica costs 8,500 won, maritozzo bronte costs 5,900 won

Take-out available for most menu items

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldm.com)
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