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Dolcezza - Owner Robb Duncan and Violetta Edelman in Several DC, MD, and VA Locations

Local Chain Gelato Argentinian Desserts Coffee Stumptown Roasters

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#51 Alex



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Posted 02 December 2012 - 11:21 PM

A quick post here since has been several months since a last report. I'm a regular at all of Dolcezza's locations. Best gelato (and milkshakes!) in town but, increasingly, one of our best coffee spots too.

In the last couple of weeks, Dolcezza has been serving a new roaster's product that I've really enjoyed. They've usually had fine Counter Culture and Intelligentsia in the past along with others. Excellent coffee but not so different from the other top-tier spots.

Then, I saw an interesting bag on the shelf from a Grand Rapids roaster called Mad Cap. I know Robb mentioned he had MadCap last October (upthread) but, for whatever reason, I hadn't noticed it in the stores until earlier this year. Dolcezza is serving MadCap Porvenir from El Salvador and I'll go on record saying this may be the best coffee I've yet had there and one of the best currently in the city. Nuanced. rich, robust with wonderful aroma and finish. Wow! After only seeing this marque at Dolcezza, I also saw and tried the MadCap Guatemalan Finca de Dios at Evening Star last night. That one, while very good, didn't stand out as much to me as the Porvenir but, in any event, I'd strongly recommend coffee lovers give this a try. Just in Bethesda and Dupont since Georgetown doesn't yet have the full Dolcezza coffee program (heard a rumor they may be looking for bigger digs where they can spread out and do everything they're doing north and east).

And, of course, if game to try another of Dolcezza's great coffee providers, MadCap, with the roasters/owners themselves, please take a look here and raise a hand. :P

I live in Grand Rapids. Madcap is a local treasure. They're *really* serious about their coffee. If you at all can, RSVP, then hike yourself to the tasting and presentation that darkstar mentioned. I wish I could be there.
"Suddenly as I reached the crest of a hill, emerging from the fog, there was a bright neon sign flashing on and off that read: FOIE GRAS AND HARICOTS VERTS NEXT EXIT. I checked the guidebook and it said: Excellent food, malevolent ambience."
--Mark Leyner, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist

#52 darkstar965



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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:40 AM

I had to be out in the hinterlands of suburban VA yesterday and had a lunch close enough to the new Mosaic district to allow a few moments to walk around. Somehow I missed all the coverage that Dolcezza is opening a new shop there. Looks almost ready; maybe another couple of weeks? I think this very exciting, especially if Robb brings the full coffee program to Mosaic. That would instantly become the best coffee in NoVA imho. Or at least the best west of Northside Social in Arlington. And, of course, there are many who believe Robb's gelato is as good as anything in the country. Pitango in RTC is excellent but, gelato to gelato, I think Dolcezza gets the edge.

Some of the Washingtonian's coverage here and here though I can confirm that, contrary to those two articles, the new shop still isn't open now early January. But does look to be imminent.

#53 darkstar965



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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:53 PM

Given how mistrustful we've all become with rampant misrepresentations, poorly treated employees, accepted mediocrity, unpaid taxes or vendors, ingredient bait & switches and deceptive labeling in the food industries, it makes people like Robb Duncan and Violeta Edelmann especially treasured. 


The local ABC affiliate did a piece with them yesterday you can see here.  Their passion and sincerity for each other, for their community and for what (and how!) they're doing all come across vividly.  The ABC spot (about 6 min) reminded me of a visit I made to one of the shops several weeks ago when I saw a new flavor, Maryland Maple (or something like that). Robb was there and seemed delighted that I'd ask about it.  I didn't realize maple syrup came from Maryland.  He loved telling me about it and how he was buying from a vendor just down the block at the Dupont Farmers market. 


All that, and they have both one of the best coffee programs in the DC area and one of the best quality gelatos in this country.


And, looks like their new Mosaic shop is on track for February 1st.  Here's hoping.


Wishing these guys a huge amount of continued success.  Such a wonderful local/international story. We're lucky to have them here in DC. Give me a cup of Dolcezza gelato over a freakin' cupcake any day! Tastier...and even healthier. :P

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#54 darkstar965



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:06 PM

This just in from Dolcezza.  The new fourth store will open next week with some special events. The below focuses on gelato but I've heard there should also be a great coffee program.  If it exceeds the current best Dolcezza coffee outpost in Dupont, this will contend for best coffee in NoVa alongside Northside Social and maybe Buzz.




Virginia Here We Come!



It’s finally here.  Our 4th shop is unveiling on Saturday, February 16 in Fairfax’s Mosaic District, 2905 District Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22031. Stop by on our grand opening day from 2 to 5 p.m. for a FREE mini cone filled with an exquisite, seasonal flavor of your
choice (one per customer).  You definitely don’t wanna miss out on this opening…I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s going to be one that you’ll never forget.  Don’t be shy—spread the word to your friends and family because the more the merrier! 

Get this—our Mosaic shop will have an exclusive flavor for the month of February that will have your mouth watering for more: VIRGINIA PEANUT
BUTTER STRACCIATELLA.  Made with Virginia peanuts from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, we roast, salt and grind them in house to make the
finest, freshest peanut butter. 

And if you’re able to get your mind off of our VIRGINIA PEANUT BUTTER STRACCIATELLA, don’t forget about our other seasonal beauties:

SWEET POTATO PECAN PRALINE: this gelato is made using Covington sweet potatoes which Zachariah Lester from Tree & Leaf swears by for their
sweetness. Exceptional, complex, earthy, comfort and quintessential fall flavor.

HEIRLOOM APPLE:  we try all the apples every Sunday at the Dupont Market from Toigo Orchards and choose a mix of the
sweetest and brightest apples we feel would make the most complex and outstanding sorbetto. Such a simple and pure flavor and one of our early
fall favorites.

Upcoming events where you can find us:
Set your TV for WUSA 9 on February 20 at 12:20 to see a segment about our new Mosaic District Shop!

#55 darkstar965



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Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:26 AM

Re: Dining Guide.  No longer "3 locations." Now 4.

Re:  Headline.  No longer "soon Merrifield." Now Open in Merrifield.  Some local television coverage here.


Made it over today.  It's a Dolcezza Greatest Hits in a beautiful new space.  Similar square footage to Bethesda though without the tables.  They do have a good number of high seats but still have to finalize approvals with the local authorities to install a table/counter.  Full coffee service like Dupont; currently serving Stumptown, MadCap, Verve and Intelligentsia.  I'd put them in the coffee top tier for NoVa with Northside and Buzz but, once they get their seating figured out and newer staff fully trained on espresso drinks, they probably top the others.  Maybe a few more options on gelato and sorbetti than the other locations but not entirely sure. They have 20 flavors here which feels like a greater selection than Dupont, Georgetown and Bethesda?


Super to see Dolcezza out in Mosaic. Their opening takes away one of the only two reasons to visit Reston Town Center, imho (if coming out from the east).  Now, PassionFish is the only reason to go there. ;)


Long live Dolcezza, one of the country's very best purveyors of gelato and a serious and excellent coffee program. Congrats on the new location, Robb and Violetta!

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#56 darkstar965



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Posted 24 September 2013 - 02:12 PM

Big news--at least to those of us that I call "coffee hounds"--brewing at Dolcezza's shops in Georgetown, Bethesda, Dupont, Union Market and Merrifield.

Dolcezza, and the Dupont location in particular, has always had one of the city's better coffee programs.  They were bringing in unique and interesting roasters from all around the US, invested in a serious Marzocco espresso machine and took the time to do pourovers to get the most from the beans.  Roasters ranging from Verve, Stumptown and Intelligentsia to new entrant MadCap graced Dolcezza's shelves in recent years.  And, unlike some independent shops that would sell a nice variety of beans but not offer the same variety for in-shop brewing, Dolcezza usually did both.

So, the news?  Joining a trend seen at many shops around the US, Dolcezza has stopped carrying different and changing independent roasters' beans in favor of signing an exclusive deal with just one that will now be the bean of choice in all Dolcezza shops.  Dolcezza is now selling and brewing only Stumptown.

From my perspective, this is neither a good nor bad thing per se.  As with so many other things, it's a mixed bag for consumers.  So, if you're interested in this stuff (and I realize many may not be), some pros and cons just below.


- Most obvious is that choice is more limited.  As one of the nation's larger (and better) roasters, Stumptown was founded in Portland (OR) in 1999 and is still based there.  As with many growing coffee purveyors, they roast and retail themselves (from Stumptown shops in Portland, LA, Seattle and NY).  Expansion to Chicago, Miami and San Francisco are all on the radar according to reports.  Dolcezza will almost certainly be supplied from NYC since that's the closest roastery.  So, while Stumptown sources and roasts a very wide variety a beans, all beans will be Stumptown.  This is akin to a large and well diversified winemaker with vineyards in different regions being an exclusive provider to a multi-location restauranteur. Stumptown brought in a private equity investor two years ago and is now professionally managed though the founder is still with the company. There is some chance that Stumptown could compete with its retail accounts (like Dolcezza) in future years by opening Stumptown Shops here in DC but that's not likely in the next few years given what's known about Stumptown's plans and how the busisiness usually works.

- Discovery limited.  I've always found the wine analogy to serve well for coffee.  All the different coffee bean growers and roasters of the world are analogous to all the grape growers and winemakers.  Shops like Dolcezza and stores like Whole Foods or Moms serve similar roles for wine and coffee with whole bean sales.  And, coffee shops (again like Dolcezza, Filter, The Coffee Bar or Qualia) are the last connection with the consumer in the same way as restaurants and bars for wine.  A talented barista or brewer is as important to what you get in a cup as the sommelier is at CityZen with good wine imho.  So, if you were in a fine restaurant whose wine list featured 150 well-chosen bottles but all from one producer, that might be less preferable to more adventurous wine consumers looking to discover new vintages and varietals from new regions or producers. Same deal here with the new Stumptown/Dolcezza relationship. There won't be "new" roaster like MadCap, Qualia, Handsome, PT's or whomever appearing on shelves here going forward.


- The biggest advantage is that the economics of a deal like this are better for the retailer/shop and thus help them to be more sustainable as they grow.  If I were running a smaller food/beverage retailer like Dolcezza, I'd almost certainly consider a deal like this also. Why?  

An exclusive deal between a coffee shop and roaster usually involves the roaster guaranteeing supply (a big challenge with small-fry roasters) which should mean fresher and more available beans onsite. The roaster/wholesaler also typically provides a broad range of support to the shop such as equipment, co-marketing and training of shop personnel.  Prices can also be a bit more competitive. This is not an insignificant thing for consumers.  Dolcezza offers some of the best gelato in the country.  And, with Stumptown, they'll continue to offer an excellent line of coffee.  With more stores and outlets, they can do more things while being more accessible to more customers. They can not only survive but also thrive and we all know that is tough to achieve.

- Another advantage of this is that Stumptown will enable Robb and Violetta (Dolcezza's owners) not only to hopefully be more successful. The deal should also allow them to focus more on the gelato side, which they do so well and on their staff and business as it grows. I'd expect and look for lots of new and exciting things from Dolcezza. Their new gelato production facility and shop at Union Market are just one current example.

I'm personally wistful about this move.  I love small coffee shops (places like The Coffee Bar, Qualia and, most recently, Wydown Coffee) who carry beans from so many new and interesting small roasters from all around the country.  Great flavors and great opportunity to discover that way. But it can be a real pain to manage for a shop as it begins to experience some success.

I'm also a huge fan of what Robb and Violetta have done with Dolcezza and fully support this move for them as they begin to really mature and scale as a company. Most of the other roaster-exclusive shops in the city tend to partner with Annapolis-based Ceremony (like Filter) or NC-based Counter Culture (Northside Social, Peregrine). This is the first exclusive in our area for Stumptown with a multi-unit operator and Dolcezza's one of the absolute best with whom they could have partnered. So, by all indications at this early stage, it seems like Dolcezza will continue to be known for outstanding gelato and excellent coffee along with inviting shops.

Will be interested to hear what others think as they try the new Stumptown offerings already available in all Dolcezza shops.


P.S., Mods, the Dining Guides only lists Dolcezza under "ice cream" for Multiple Location operators.  It should be cross-referenced under coffee shops also, especially now.  Also, they are five locations and growing; well past "3-5".

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#57 porcupine


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Posted 23 December 2013 - 01:23 PM

Fans of Stumptown should be delighted to learn that Dolcezza now has an exclusive relationship with them.  Those of us who are not fans of Stumptown can now cross Dolcezza off the list.  <_<   (Not a fan of exclusive relationships, either.)

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#58 ozgirl


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Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:45 AM

Went to check out the new Dolcezza coffee and gelato lab the other week out near Union Market.  Turned out it wasn't open yet, but the inside looked great!! Like something out of Brooklyn or Portland.  Looking forward to checking it out more when they finally do open.  

#59 jandres374



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Posted 01 August 2014 - 10:57 AM

I now see they are offering home delivery of their gelato - 4 pints for $60 (ouch!).  Well at least the shipping is free.

#60 DonRocks



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Posted 01 August 2014 - 11:33 AM

I now see they are offering home delivery of their gelato - 4 pints for $60 (ouch!).  Well at least the shipping is free.


They also sell it at Parts and Labor in Baltimore. $15 a pint - ouch!

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#61 darkstar965



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Posted 11 January 2015 - 06:03 PM

Just a quick update that Dolcezza now operates two shops at the Mosaic District in Merrifield. One is the standard gelato shop formula; the other a more innovative glass, wood and steel cube just housing the coffee program; only location like that in the growing Dolcezza empire.


Oh, and responding to some of the understandable gelato sticker shop above, the B'More Parts & Labor pricing is high even by Dolcezza's own standards. Pints are $10 and change in the shops and I think a buck or two less at WF though the latter often don't have a good selection of flavors.

#62 Pool Boy

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Posted 30 March 2015 - 07:56 PM

OK, I stopped in Dolcezza (Bethesda) today for a tiny sample).


My mark of excellence and standard is if the place making the gelato can make it with really good hazelnut flavor, but also with unctious decadent creaminess.


How did Dolcezza do?


Hazelnut flavor - 8 out of 10, maaaaaybe 9

Creaminess - 7


A very solid effort worthy of seeking out. But not in the league of the best stuff in Italy. But the real mark? Will I be back. Hell yes.

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