Pastry chef Gianluigi Dellaccio has discovered the perfect ingredient to add to his all-natural artisan gelato: beer. The former star water polo player from Naples, Italy opened his own gelato factory, Dolci Gelati, in 2006 and began experimenting with beer flavors within a year.
Dellaccio’s first beer-infused gelato was a Peroni sorbet made in-house at Dolci Gelati for an Italian festival in the District. The chef recalls lines of beer enthusiasts down the street who couldn’t wait to try his gelato.
“It was pretty cool feedback for us to hear,” he said. “People still say, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard of this before.’ And that’s what we’re always trying to do: create new things to challenge ourselves and have a good finished product.”
Dellaccio has concocted over 250 flavors in his Woodley Park gelato laboratory. But the Blue Moon gelato is one of his favorites. About a year and a half ago, he created what he describes as “a smooth and creamy flavor with a tiny bit of bitterness and sweetness at the same time.” He adds a splash of orange to create a sweetness which complements the bitter beer taste.
“The interesting thing about beer gelato is the creaminess that is achieved, probably because of the overall carbonation and foam from the beer,” he said. “The Blue Moon flavor just encapsulates summer – it’s like a frozen beer.”
The dairy-free product is essentially a sorbet. Dellaccio adds a little bit of his own simple syrup (a homemade recipe) to the beer for just the right blend of flavors. He said the Blue Moon gelato is one of his best beer-themed treats because of its smooth flavor.
“Its flavor adds a particular character to the product,” he said. “It doesn’t have a skunky flavor like other types of beer. I love it. When everybody has the chance to try it, they will love it as well.”
Dolci Gelati also offers other beer flavors. Dellaccio described his Miller Lite gelato as “a bit hoppy but really crisp and well-balanced.” Others include a lime flavored gelato, and a smooth, creamy chocolate gelato, all enhanced with beer.
Fine dining restaurants often ask to include Dellaccio’s beer flavors in appetizers. His Peroni gelato has been served with cured salmon tartar and capers. The sweetness of the salmon coupled with the bitter aftertaste of the sorbet really hits the spot.
“The Peroni beer is crisp and well-balanced and the sorbet, as a result, was light and refreshing,” he said.
Dolci Gelati distributes gelato to Dean and Deluca, Whole Foods, P&C Market, Manhattan Market, food carts at the National Zoo and at Nationals Park and locations along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
In July, Dolci Gelati opened a new Pop-Up Gelateria in the storefront of Living Social’s live events space at 918 F St. for one week as part of Frozen Treat Month. Flavors included kettle corn gelato, peach tarragon, raspberry lemonade and chocolate mint.
Prior to his career in creating unique gelato flavors, Dellaccio was an Italian champion in water polo. In 1996, he switched gears completely and followed his pastry and gelato-making passions. He moved to the States in 2000 and spent six years as head pastry chef at DC restaurant Galileo III. He’s made pastries for Bono, President Clinton, Queen Rania of Jordan and the Pope.
Dellaccio left Galileo in 2006 to open Dolci Gelati. It’s a family venture, his wife Anastasia handles all of the marketing and business development for the company and it shows no signs of slowing down. They have two kids, Valentina and Gianluca, and a Goldendoodle named Belle. When he’s not spending time with family, he’s busy doing what he does best, coming up with the next great gelato flavor.
Dolci Gelati: 5766 2nd St. NE, DC; 202-257-5323; www.dolcigelati.net
Want to try it for yourself? Blue Moon is celebrating the blue moon (a month in which there are two full moons) on August 31 at Local 16. This is a free event with complimentary Blue Moon beer and food, and Blue Moon gelato, provided by Dolci Gelati. You can also paint on the Blue Moon mural, get free Blue Moon gear, and raise money for charity! The celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. Must be 21+. No RSVP required, but get there early! Local 16: 1602 U St. NW, DC; 202-265-2828; www.localsixteen.com