When the new Dolcezza at 1418 14th St. NW opens June 28, it will offer guests the first chance to load up the gelateria's farm-fresh frozen treats with toppings. A sundae! Just don't call it that.
"The word 'sundae,' you have an immediate association," said owner Robb Duncan. Instead of conjuring up visions of the all-American hot fudge and banana split, he and his wife Violeta Edelman are calling them "coppetta," an Italian word for "little cup" that refers to gelato with toppings. At Dolcezza's marble-topped coppetta bar, you can try five flavors ($7-$8): chocolate Mexicano with spicy nuts and cinnamon whipped cream; strawberry tarragon daiquiri with tequila whipped cream; strawberry gnocchi with lemon ricotta, cardamom gelato and strawberry broth; coffee gelato with cookie crumble; and a concoction called "Fruity Pebbles," a riff on the famous cereal.
"If you get a little bit of everything, you'll know why it has that name," said Duncan. The Fruity Pebbles coppetta features Indonesian vanilla-bean gelato, crushed marcona almonds and candied citrus zest.
Best of all for 14th Street commuters, the shop has walk-up window service. Mornings will focus on Stumptown coffee and pastries; evenings will bring gelato push pops.
Most remarkable is the transformation of the building. Remember when it looked like this?
Here's what it looks like now:
Duncan says the building's renovation was more work than they bargained for. Due to a previous fire, the space was not structurally sound, so they had to rip out the entire floor. When he learned that the building was constructed in 1878 as an apothecary, that became the inspiration for the light-filled space. With tall wooden shelving and marble counters, it looks like an old fashioned drugstore. Duncan and Edelman even found the building's original doors, and plan to use them in the space. Soon after opening, they'll add a 10-seat patio, and the unfinished basement could eventually be built out as part of the shop, as well.
"The bones of the building are gorgeous," said Duncan. "We think we did the space justice."
Dolcezza, 1418 14th Street, NW. 202-817-3900.