Dolci Gelati Cafe at City Market at O: An Italian gem in Shaw
A few weeks ago, I, along with other bloggers, had the *sweet* opportunity to visit Dolci Gelati's newest and second retail shop - Dolci Gelati Cafe at City Market at O in Shaw. The first one is in Takoma Park, MD. The Shaw space is larger, with 1,200 square feet, and it exudes elegance. Dolci Gelati's signature green with accents of silver dominates the Cafe and vintage photos of Italy are interspersed throughout which brings a warmness to the store. Rounding out the store deco are two gorgeous antique chandeliers which renders the venue très chic.
Before I start describing all of the tasty bites we indulged in, let's first meet the fantastic duo behind the Dolci Gelati brand - Gianluigi and Anastasia Dellaccio. It was founded in 2006 by Gianluigi, former Italian champion water polo player-turned-celebrated pastry chef and his wife, co-owner and confectionary muse, Anastasia and how they generated initial buzz is just priceless. It's literally like a scene out of a Fellini film. Gianluigi and Anastasia drove around on their vintage vespa in the streets of Washington DC, with a cooler filled with gelato and went from door to door to introduce their delectable product to restaurants, chefs and other venues (Cafe St. Ex was their first account). What makes Gianluigi's gelato so special is that he uses only authentic family recipes and the highest quality of fresh ingredients. In contrast to U.S. ice cream, gelato is made with only 5-8% milkfat, thereby making it a healthier alternative. So why is it so delicious? Churned differently from ice cream, gelato contains less air, has a creamy consistency and its taste is richer. Their hard work, passion and vision paid off because they now have two brick and mortar shops, a Dolci Gelati food truck and their pints can be found at well-known places such as Whole Foods (DC, MD and VA), The Italian Store (VA), Dean & Deluca Georgetown and more.
Now, back to the mouth watering portion of this post ... As we arrived, we were all treated to our choice of either a cup of hot dark chocolate or Dolci Baci, a hot hazelnut hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream. I (of course) chose the hazelnut-based *sweet kiss* beverage (huge nutella nut!) and as one can imagine, it was incredible! The consistency was thick and it was rich in taste. It was as good as the cup of Italian hot chocolate I had several years ago in the Piazza San Marco square in Venice, Italy.
Then right in front of our eyes, Gianluigi created 4 different kinds of coppe gelatos (sundaes) that would satisfy any discerning palate - Ananas Royale (Greek yogurt gelato, fresh pineapple, whipped cream topped with pineapple and strawberry sauce), Fragola (strawberry gelato, fresh strawberry salad, whipped cream topped with homemade strawberry sauce), Mele Caramel (salted caramel gelato, carmelized apples, whipped cream with a homemade caramel sauce) and a Banana Split (vanilla and chocolate gelato, a fresh banana, whipped cream topped with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate sauce). Each was beautiful in presentation and delicious in taste. My favorite though was the banana split because I've loved this type of sundae since I was a young girl. There are other flavors, such as mango, that could tempt you or if you want to be creative, there is an option to "build your own" where you are able to choose 3 flavors of either gelato or sorbetto with your choice of fruit salad, whipped cream and a topping. So in short, go crazy and excite all senses! (Click on below image and subsequent ones to see the slideshow)
The fun did not stop there and our bellies were definitely happy about that. We were then ushered to the "Create-Your-Own Gelato Pops" station, which is specific to the Shaw location. The process is simple. You choose a pop, which is then dipped in your choice of six chocolates (you can even double dip, which is actually recommended ;-) ) and then it is topped off with a great selection of colorful sprinkles. My creation was a salted caramel pop with a dual coating of milk chocolate and pistachio chocolate topped with chocolate jimmies and pistachio bits. One word. Delizioso! (Click on below image and subsequent ones to see the slideshow)
After the customized gelato pops, we were then invited to taste an assortment of desserts (tiramisu, panna cotta, chocolate hazelnut tart, fruit tart, chocolate hazlenut mousse cake) gelato panini (yes, a sweet panini and who can say no to that) and mini-gelato pops (which are adorable and make for great gifts). (Click on below image and subsequent ones to see the slideshow)
That said, the Dolci Gelati Cafe at City Market at O in Shaw is not limited to sweets, they also offer savory bites. The three sandwiches that are offered are the Ham and Cheese (ham and cheese served on a freshly baked croissant), Pesto Caprese Panini (basil pesto spread on fresh cibatta bread layered with sliced mozarella and tomato) and Prosciutto Mozarella Panini (fresh proscuitto and mozarella pressed into cibatta bread).
So, next time you are in Shaw and you are craving a mini-italian-staycation, head over to the Dolci Gelati Cafe at City Market at O to enjoy a little piece of la dolce vita in the nation's capital. I promise you, you won't regret it, nor will your palate.
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Dolci Gelati Cafe at City Market at O in Shaw | 1402 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC | www.dolcigelati.net