Dolcezza Gelato Raises the Bar with New Venue

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By Tim Ebner

By the time late spring rolls around, Robb Duncan is salivating for summer. It’s the time of year when his business, Dolcezza Gelato, is busy whipping up frozen gelatos with fresh berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and red, black and purple raspberries.

Summer also means peak herb growing season. And, if there was a Super Bowl Sunday for gelato producers, Duncan says it would be during the last week of June.

“That one week is a big one. It’s just an amazing time for fresh gelato,” he says. “It’s the tail end of strawberry season, and it has a one-week overlap where blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are in season too.”


This year Dolcezza is ready for that week. The gelato shop recently opened a 4,000-square-foot factory space, behind Union Market in Northeast D.C. The factory space feels light and airy, thanks to skylights and 20-foot open ceilings. This is part production part tasting room. Visitors can sample fresh off-the-line gelatos, and soon coffee too. It’s a big improvement over their first Georgetown shop, Duncan says, where they made gelato in a 300-square-foot retail space.

The gelato factory not only ups the production process, it also ups the flavor profile of the gelatos being made. Duncan calls it the “Krispy Kreme” effect. Just like freshly made glazed doughnuts, the gelatos taste better when they come straight from the source, he says. Gelato is meant to be served at a temperature around 20° F. When Dolcezza boxes and moves it to stores, the gelato is a bit colder, around 10° F. The temperature difference is small, but it matters, Duncan says.

“At the factory it has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. You can really taste it.”

labveinteuno_1Just be sure to plan your visit in advance. On weekends, you can sample flavors like strawberry mint or champagne mango while learning how the gelato is made.

Visiting Dolcezza Laboratory—The new Dolcezza Laboratory is located at 550 Penn St. NW behind Union Market. Hours are Tuesday–Thursday, noon–5pm, Friday noon–7pm, Saturday 11am–8 pm and Sunday 11am–7pm. Tours of the production facility are given Saturdays at 2 and 4pm, and Sundays at 1 and 3pm. Those interested in tours will need to sign up in person the same day as their desired tour.

- Tim Ebner writes about food and travel in Washington, DC. He’s works on digital content and strategy at Education Week and contributes for Forbes Travel, Eater DC, The Washington City Paper’s “Young & Hungry” and The Washington Post Express. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@ebnert) for dining and travel tips.

Click here to get the recipe and directions to make Dolcezza Strawberry Tequila Sorbetto. Read More

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A Julep So Cool It’s Blue

By Tim Ebner

As the heat and humidity hit this summer, skip the Manhattan and order up an ice-cold mint julep. Sure, this cocktail has several centuries of history in Kentucky, and it’s the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but it might also be the perfect remedy for a muggy D.C. afternoon.


Nick Caruana runs a drinks site called The Straight Up, a Saveur 2014 finalist for best cocktail blog. Caruana says Kentucky Senator Henry Clay is credited with bringing the julep to our nation’s capital where he introduced the drink back in the early 1800s at the hotel where the Willard Intercontinental now stands. The Willard’s Round Robin bar still makes the julep according to Clay’s recipe, but for a summer refresh on this iced bourbon beverage, Caruana adds fresh blueberries.

He muddles mint and blueberries with Maraschino to create the base of his “Mint Blulep.” Then, he mixes bourbon (Woodford Reserve is his Kentucky standard), St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters over crushed ice. The result is a refreshing combination of fruit and herbal flavors.

“Taking a sip of it and then feeling the frosty cup will really help cool you down quickly,” Caruana says.

Don’t overlook the glassware. Juleps are a special drink for a special kind of glass. Caruana uses pewter julep cups, but highball or rocks glasses can work in a pinch. And, there’s no need to mound the ice over the rim, he says. It’s mainly for effect and might melt quickly on a summer day. Instead, use a few leftover blueberries and a sprig of mint to top off the drink.

The sweetness really makes or breaks the julep, Caruana says. Most people overcomplicate their syrups, but a good julep keeps the simple syrup simple, he says.

If anything, though, don’t let Senator Clay stop you from experimenting with the classic recipe.“ At its heart the drink is a Kentucky standard,” he says, “But D.C. has definitely helped to tweak and perfect it.”

Mint Blulep Recipe

  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • ¾ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • 2½ ounces bourbon
  • ¼ ounce St–Germain liqueur
  • 1 bar spoon Creme Yvette
  • 2 dashes Peach Bitters
  • 12 blueberries
  • 10 mint Leaves
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • Blueberries for garnish

Add the blueberries and mint leave to the bottom of a julep cup (a highball glass or rocks glass would also work). Top with the Maraschino, then generously muddle the mixture. Add the bourbon, St-Germain, Creme Yvette and peach bitters.


Fill the cup with crushed ice, so that the ice fills the cup, but doesn’t mound up above the cup. Garnish with the mint sprigs, then add a few blueberries to the top of the drink to finish it off.

Notes about the ingredients: Crème Yvette is a liqueur made from parma violet petals with blackberries, red raspberries, wild strawberries and cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla. St-Germain is a French liqueur made from elderflowers. These and the other special ingredients can be found at most spirits shops.… Read More

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