affogato wars of DC

clockwise from top: Pitango; Dolcezza; Gelatteria

The Washington DC area has a couple local chains (Dolcezza and Pitango) and a stand-alone cafe (Gelatteria) which have two main offerings: specialty coffee, and high-end gelato. Sounds like fodder for a taste test, so I recently visited all three for a comparison.

Perhaps I should back up, an affogato is an Italian dessert of gelato in espresso (affogato meaning ‘drowned’ in Italian). Can be served with any flavor gelato I suppose, though the most frequent choice would be vanilla or crema (a sweet cream, simple, traditional gelato flavor).

clockwise from left: Gelatteria, Dolcezza, Pitango

I like the concept of a business built around specialty coffee and gelato, a Venn diagram representing fans of the two main offerings should have a lot of overlap. It’s also a nice way to build a more sustainable business, particularly as adding coffee making equipment wouldn’t require much more space than a stand-alone ice cream shop, and vice versa.

clockwise from left: Dolcezza; Pitango; Gelatteria

Both Dolcezza and Pitango have multiple outlets in the area. I visited the Bethesda shop for Dolcezza, and Pitango’s Adams Morgan cafe in DC. Gelatteria is a new cafe with one outlet in Kensington, MD. At each stop, I ordered an affogato with vanilla gelato; a macchiato; and a small serving of whatever flavor gelato happened to catch my eye. I’ll add separate posts reviewing each stop, but in terms of rankings:

best affogato: Pitango; Dolcezza; Gelatteria

best coffee: Dolcezza; Pitango; Gelatteria

best gelato: Gelatteria (honey mascarpone fig); Dolcezza (blackberry and cream); Pitango (coconut)

the one shop in which to while away an afternoon: Pitango

Please see my reviews:

Pitango Gelato

La Gelatteria


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