450 Reasons to Enjoy Dolci Gelati

Gianluigi Delaccio is the chef-owner of Dolci Gelati in Shaw. Photo: Scott Suchman, Courtesy Dolci Gelati

Decadent cold desserts are not Gianluigi Dellaccio’s only claim to fame. The owner of Dolci Gelati is a former Italian water polo champion who credits his athletic life as the foundation for his later culinary success.

“Water polo’s not only good for your body, but it’s good also for your mind and work ethic,” Dellaccio.

After retiring from the pool, Dellaccio studied the culinary arts in Milan, Italy. Coming to the United States, Dellaccio worked with notable Chef Roberto Donna at Galileo in Dupont Circle. There, he crafted unique gelato flavors. Participating in the Iron Chef competition, he created gelato out of all sorts of mystery ingredients. Scallops, however, stumped him. “It was too fishy,” Dellaccio remembered, laughing.

In 2006, Dellaccio stepped away from restaurants to manufacture gelato and sorbet full time. Dolci Gelati, as the business is known, quickly expanded into four storefronts across the DMV, including a Shaw location at 1420 Eight St. NW in 2014. His confections are also sold at local restaurants, the National Zoo and the National Gallery of Art. He plans a fifth store in Pentagon City.

While seafood-based gelato proved a bridge too far, the Dolci Gelati team has developed 450 unique flavors, including a smoked gelato. Customer feedback, he stated, drives much of this innovation. For example, after repeated requests, the company now produces a vegan line. Crafted with oat milk and coconut oil as a balancing fat, it has a similar consistency to their traditional product. In addition, his culinary team has also created a variety of artisanal Italian desserts, like cannoli, tiramisu, bomboloni (an Italian style donut) and a double chocolate mousse.

Dellaccio’s success has not gone unnoticed. The Associazione Italiana Gelatieri named him a Gelato Ambassador during Sigep, the largest international artisan gelato fair in the world.

When not whipping up new gelato flavors, Dellaccio can be found in the pool, playing and coaching water polo.

Dolci Gelati is open Tuesday through Thursday, 2 to 9 p.m.; Friday, 2 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 9 p.m. Visit dolcigelati.net for more information.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.