These Ice Cream Flavors Are Anything But Vanilla

Balsamic vinegar flavored ice cream, anyone?


Ala, 1320 19th St., NW

This Middle Eastern–inspired ice cream gets its poppy-pink hue from powdered sumac berries and pomegranate molasses.


Candy Cap Mushrooms

The Bazaar by José Andrés, in the Waldorf Astoria, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Candy cap mushrooms. Photograph courtesy of The Bazaar.

At José Andrés’s modernist playground, sweet mushrooms go into an umami-rich ice cream that’s paired with espresso meringue.



Dolci Gelati in Shaw, Alexandria, and Takoma Park

Smoke at Dolci Gelati. Photograph of ice cream by Alessandra Beggiato.

A smoker from Home Depot is fired up for four hours atop a bowl of vanilla-­gelato base to create this evocative flavor, available by special order.


Szechuan Peppercorns

Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream, 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington

Photograph courtesy of Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream.

Owner Rollin Amore loves crafting unexpected flavors (think grilled beets or wasabi), and this spicy-salty homage to Sichuan, China, is made with tongue-numbing peppercorns, peanuts, and chili oil.


Balsamic Vinegar

Modena, 1199 H St., NW

Photograph courtesy of Modena.

By combining basic balsamic with a 12-year-aged varietal, chef Benjamin Lambert adds acidic punch and deep sweetness to an ice cream served with a warm Parmesan cake.



Vera, 2002 Fenwick St., NE

Photograph courtesy of Dolcezza.

This Lebanese Mexican newcomer in Ivy City turned to the gelato makers at Dolcezza for a custom-made flavor that blends roasted corn and cinnamon to evoke the popular Mexican street snack.



Yume Sushi, 2121 N. West­more­­land St., Arlington

You’ve probably never had gelato like this seasonal special laced with briny-sweet Hokkaido sea urchin. It’s paired with tart yuzu ice, caviar, and edible gold.

This article appears in the July 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Parenting writer

Nevin Martell is a parenting, food, and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Saveur, Men’s Journal, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, Runner’s World, and many other publications. He is author of eight books, including It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids, Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America’s Favorite Rural Bakery, and the small-press smash Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. When he isn’t working, he loves spending time with his wife and their six-year-old son, who already runs faster than he does.