This place was a funny find, as I didn’t know how truly amazing it was until a few days after I visited. During my Nutritional Therapy Association conference weekend, I hit up Sweet Green (a great organic salad spot) for lunch and told my friend Megan I had to have coffee afterward. Well, we went to a coffee shop, where I proceeded not to get coffee (indecisive much?), and after we walked out, I changed my mind once again and told her I did, in fact, need coffee. We haven’t known each other long, so I can only imagine what she was thinking about me at that very moment.
At the point where I once again was needing coffee, we were standing right in front of Pitango Gelato in Reston Town Center, whose sign read that it served coffee and espresso. So there we were, ordering coffee once again, this time in a gelato shop. The shop carries delicious Counter Culture Coffee, which is dedicated to quality, sustainability, and carries single-origin offerings. As satisfied as I was with the coffee, do you think I could possibly leave without gelato? I think not.
I proceeded to ask the patient man behind the counter to try every flavor and decided on the Chocolate Noir sorbet. To me, sorbet always indicates fruitiness, so I was stoked to satisfy my chocolate gelato craving without its dairy counterpart. Apparently this recipe doesn’t even call for a dairy substitute– it’s just chocolate and sugar!
As delicious as this Pitango treat was, it was an impulse buy that was based solely on a craving, rather than my usual well-researched splurge on only the best quality desserts. However, as I was day dreaming about the chocolate sorbet a few days later, I was amazed at what I found on Pitango Gelato’s website; they are completely dedicated to pure, local, and sustainable ingredients and authentic Italian recipes. Hurray– not only does it taste good, but it’s good for you (well, compared to a lot of other desserts)– what a bonus!
As stated on Pitango Gelato’s website, the company “goes to extremes to source the best ingredients on the planet, including organic grass-fed milk, cream, free-range eggs, raw cane sugar, fresh fruit and nuts, and premium chocolate.” The milk comes from Pennsylvania’s Spring Wood Organic Farm, and Pitango went through a rigorous certification process, which allows them to process the milk themselves. This means that they can buy the milk raw from the farm in its most pure state and only pasteurize it gently during the gelato-making process. This traditional method of authentic Italian gelato making ensures a delicious flavor and higher nutritional value, as over-processing of milk disrupts its integrity and destroys many of its nutrients.
Megan posing per my request– she was definitely annoyed!
This gentle method of handling milk actually makes it more digestible, but for those who cannot tolerate any amount of dairy, Pitango Gelato offers delicious sorbet flavors, including chocolate noir, spicy chocolate, orange dark chocolate, as well as a range of fruit flavors, such as apriot, bosc pear, concord grape, and white grapefruit, among other creative flavors.
Gelato flavors include bacio (chocolate hazelnut with with hazelnuts and chocolate chips), crema, nicciola (hazelnut), pistachio di Bronte, Sicilian almond, and cardamom– just to name a few. Pitango Gelato goes to great lengths to create these flavors. For the pistachio di Bronte flavor, the store imports the unique variety of pistachios from Mt. Etna, an active volcano in Sicily. As if importing the pistachios from an Italian volcano didn’t give Pitango enough street cred, Mt. Etna yields only yields one crop every two years, making them a serious delicacy. The standard California pistachio has nothing on the Bronte, and Pitango will not settle for anything but the best. The company is owned by self-proclaimed “control freaks, who carefully maintain the quality of the product all the way from the cow to the consumer,” so it’s safe to say anyone who is freakish about the ingredients in their food will love this place.
Of course using the finest ingredients means that the gelato costs a bit more, but believe me, you get what you’re paying for– and once you take one bite, you’ll realize you would’ve paid double.
Pitango’s other locations are in Washington, D.C. (Penn Quarter, Logan Circle, Capitol Hill) and Fells Point in Baltimore. To learn more about this delish and nutrish creamery, go to www.pitangogelato.com.