Dolcezza Opens Its Factory to the Public This Weekend

On tap: specialty coffee and some of the freshest gelato around.

Dolcezza's new factory includes a 20-person bar for sampling Stumptown coffee drinks and whatever gelatos are being made. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

When it comes to gelato, being freshly made isn’t necessarily a requirement—unlike, say, bread. It’s frozen regardless, right? But once you’ve tasted the cold stuff right out of the spinner—especially in flavors such as pomegranate, salted caramel, and local Honeycrisp apple—opinions change.

“It’s so much better than what you get at the shop, which is still good,” says Robb Duncan, co-owner of Dolcezza. “We taste it multiple times a day and say, ‘If only people could eat this.’”

(Left) Freshly spun mascarpone and pomegranate gelatos are creamier and more robustly flavored than the packaged versions. (Right) Dolcezza co-owners Robb Duncan and wife Violeta use local fruits, nuts, and herbs in their sweets.

Now people can. Duncan and wife/business partner Violeta have moved Dolcezza’s home base from a Georgetown shoebox to a 4,000-square-foot factory, tasting room, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters lab tucked behind Union Market. The facility will serve the four Dolcezza shops, as well as the restaurants and retailers who carry the line. The business will open to the public this Saturday between 2 and 6 for complimentary samples of gelato and coffee. Come March, the space will officially open, meaning guests can drop by for behind-the-scenes tours and perch in the 20-person bar to sip espressos and taste whatever cold sweets Duncan and his team are making from a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs.

The reason newly spun gelato excels over the packaged version has to do with temperature and texture. Tasting food at extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, tends to mask the flavor. The samples of Valrhona chocolate, ginger-cardamom-pistachio, and Honeycrisp apple are more robustly flavored as well as airier pre-deep freeze. (We could have eaten multiple scoops of the creamy pomegranate gelato made minutes earlier during our visit.) Once the operation is fully open in the spring, guests will be able to order bowls for $5.25, along with a variety of Stumptown pour-over coffees, specialty blends, and espresso drinks mixed with the same Perrydell Farm Dairy milk from Pennsylvania used to make the gelato.

Dolcezza factory. 500 Penn St., NE. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.