Three farmers markets, eight Whole Foods stores, two MOMS Organic Markets, 100 restaurants and four gelaterias– the district can find Dolcezza Gelato in more places than you can imagine. Dolcezza produces somewhere around 300 flavors annually, many of which are unique to single restaurant menus, and all of which are seasonal, making it nearly impossible to sample them all. The Argentine-style gelato makers made a big move to make satisfying all those orders easier: opening a gelato factory and coffee lab. And it’s good news for us– the 4,000 square facility will be open to the public for retail, tours, tastings, private events and anything else imaginable.
Sitting just across the street from Union Market, the Dolcezza Factory is an industrial space made comfortable by bright and attractive design. The current count of six gelato machines will increase to at least nine to meet already astronomical production demands. It’s a bit of a tease, really– the factory opens to the public December 7th, but after the grand opening, it will only be open for tours and not retail until March. Understandably so, as December isn’t exactly the season for gelato. While the rest of us save family vacation for summer, owner and gelato maker Robb Duncan, his wife Violeta Edelman and their daughters take their vacation in the winter when demand has slowed. This winter’s destination? Argentina, where Robb met Violeta and where he learned that the best gelato in the world came from Buenos Aires.
Come March, guests will be able to enjoy fresh gelato right out of the machine, which we can confirm is like nothing you will find anywhere else. While some sweet shops will display their daily flavors, Dolcezza lets the public know at what times new flavors will be ready to eat so that they can be ordered as soon as possible. You would think watching the gelato be made would take some of the magic away, but after watching a crate of honey tangerines go through the hand-pressing and hand mixing process, it’s easy to see why the flavors are so robust. Nearly every fruit and flavoring ingredient is locally sourced from regional farmers, making the gelato even more robust.
Dolcezza is in the habit of being neighborly. They’re working with Red Apron Butchery on a bacon flavored gelato, and have already worked in DC Brau with another. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group building next door will be part of the events that the factory hosts. But the most important partnership Dolcezza has is with Stumptown Roasters, the Portland-based coffee company whose beans have become ubiquitous in the district. This makes the factory similar to what already exists in Dolcezza shops– it’s a gelateria with a coffee bar. It’s just that this gelateria in particular has functional garage doors that allow produce trucks to load in your ingredients while you’re sitting a couple yards away.
With a larger production space, there’s plenty excitement regarding how much more gelato we can all enjoy and what new flavors will come from new partnerships, and zero concerns regarding the time-tested quality of Dolcezza’s product. This unimaginable upgrade from a 300 square foot production space can only mean good things for all parties involved– the opening of this factory is softening the blow of the upcoming closure of Dolcezza’s original shop. When the reaction to the velvety, dark chocolate gelato is “this is so good, I want to punch you in the mouth,” you’re probably doing something right.