DCist brings happy news:
Baltimore-based Pitango Gelato officially opens its first D.C.-area location today. Located across from the P Street Whole Foods at 1451 P NW, it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. And Virginians, don’t fret, as another Pitango will be opening soon in Reston Town Center.
It all started with Pitango Gelato owner Noah Dan. During his childhood, he would take frequent trips from his home country of Israel to Italy. And every day during these trips, he would head to the local gelateria for a treat of gelato. As he grew older, the former software programmer and his family noticed that the gelato of his childhood was no longer the same. Too many gelaterias were going for convenience and low prices, using pre-made mixes to make gelato.
For his grandmother’s 80th birthday, he decided that he would make crema, a simple custard-flavored gelato, for her. It was then that he realized that the key to great gelato was to get the basics right. For several years, he dreamed of opening a gelateria, spending three years trying to figure out how to get the right ingredients and scale up his processes.
Dan explained that the most important aspect differentiating Pitango is the milk he uses. Deciding that most milk is overly processed, he embarked on a search that took him through southern Virginia to New Jersey to find the best possible milk. When he visited a Mennonite farmer in Pennsylvania, he knew that he had found the raw milk that he could turn into the best gelato. (Yes, he does pasteurize it.) So he built a dairy on Spring Wood Organic Farm in Lancaster County, which provides him with milk from organic, grass-fed cows and fresh eggs from free-range chickens.
Dan then combs local farms to find organic fruits for his sorbetti and gelati. He admits that despite his best efforts, the best pistachios and hazelnuts would have to come from Italy. He doesn’t use artificial colors, flavors, or stabilizers.
The gelati are contained in separate covered, liquid-cooled chambers, rather than the typical presentation in trays exposed to the air. This helps prevent mingling of flavors and scents. It is also more energy-efficient; an open freezer case tends to shed cold more quickly. And since gelato has a higher melting point, this reduces melting and the formation of ice crystals during refreezing.
Rather than start with the same base for each gelato, each is formulated specifically for its ingredients. For instance, hazelnut gelato reduces the amount of cream used due to the high fat content of hazelnuts. It is this type of dedication that shows in the flavor and texture of his gelato. The astonishingly smooth pistachio gelato perfectly mimics the sweet, clean, rounded flavors of pistachios. The mojito sorbetto is fantastic and chock full of mint. For heat seekers, the spicy chocolate comes on strong with milk chocolate and ends with a surprisingly warm peppery picante. And despite the richness of gelato, it has less fat and fewer calories, which makes it easier to enjoy.
For days when it’s too cold for gelato, Pitango offers espresso, cappuccino and lattes. Or if you’re looking to super charge your gelato, you can ask for an affogato – chocolate or hazelnut gelato with a shot of espresso poured on top. But lucky for us Pitango happens to have arrived just in time for a delicious summer.
1451 P Street NW
Metro: Dupont Circle
Hours (subject to change):
Weekdays: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Weekends: 11 a.m. to midnight