I’m not into cupcakes. But gelato … that’s a dessert I can get into, especially with summer already blazing. Two straight days of triple-digit temperatures this week?! Bring on the lines, the buckets of artisan ice, the unpronounceable flavors. All I want is to wander through my D.C. summer licking expensive gelato off ridiculous little flat spoons. It’s just so good!
I first discovered real, delicious gelato on trip to Italy in college. Totally broke and determined to travel regardless, I was in awe that such goodness could be so cheap and come from straight from rickety carts on Rome’s side streets. But of course, it is Italia, Bella!
Other than that brief Italian foray and a few samplings here and there, I am no gelato expert. I do, however, know that it’s denser than ice cream, which results in more intense flavor. And it’s flavor that I like. I also know that gelato has less fat than ice cream, so this is clearly a win-win all around.
I’ve recently sampled two gelato boutiques in D.C. that are so completely different from one another it’s hard to believe they’re serving the same thing. The common thread is their passion for fresh ingredients, but each presents a different flavor, if I may, of the gelato experience.
Pitango Gelato is a small chain of gelato boutiques scattered about the D.C. area. They get their ingredients from a farm in Pennsylvania, and boast their obsession for those fresh ingredients on all the walls. They don’t use anything artificial, but they do use traditional ice cream making methods, which warms my heart.
Inside, the little shop is sterile and white like an old school ice cream shop. Twenty different flavors are on removable plaques on the wall, and the line is clearly defined, moving like an assembly: select, order, watch the scooping, pay, walk outside to a stoop, and finally, enjoy. I actually got my Pitango cup from its Penn Quarter location and found a cozy spot sitting on its outside window sill to people-watch while cooling off.
Up in Dupont, the gelato gets a little trendier. Dolcezza invites you in with scripty, scrolling letters on its window, and gorgeous lighting and furniture inside. It looks like a comfortable coffee shop (indeed, they provide WiFi and a plank table for people to work from), but feels more rustic and Italian.
The gelato line starts all the way at the back of the shop, and then you have to fight your way back upstream to pay at the front (a problem when the line for gelato is out the door, as it was the night that I went). But the flavors are gorg, and you can pile it on with sorbets, too. I loved the feel of this place, and the gelato, too.
What’s your favorite gelato shop in D.C.?
413 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
1451 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
1560 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
1704 Connecticut Ave.
Washington, DC 20009
7111 Bethesda Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814