Gianluigi Dellaccio, 43, is chef and president at Dolci Gelati, with locations in Shaw, Old Town Alexandria and Takoma Park. The gelato is also for sale at Nationals Park and in local Whole Foods Markets. He lives in Brightwood.
You’ve just been appointed gelato ambassador to the United States. Mr. Ambassador, what are the biggest issues in gelato-American relations?
We are trying to start an international gelato academy. Today the title of ambassador is going to help me to recognize people doing a good Italian gelato. There is a lot of companies called gelato, but it’s not gelato.
Are you the first gelato ambassador?
Yeah, the one and only!
How can the consumer know if it’s real gelato or the fake stuff?
I was trying to see if I can get for that a label, a stamp or some kind of certificate, and I can give it to them. The consumer can make sure that way they buy from a baker that uses the Italian standard for what gelato should be.
Some Americans don’t know the difference between gelato and ice cream. Is there any hope for such people?
Gelato is really about fat. Gelato can be 7 to 10 percent fat. Over 10, it’s ice cream.
What flavor did you make for the pope?
For [Pope Benedict XVI], it was a lemon sorbet. It was Cafe Milano doing the catering, and I was making the gelato for Cafe Milano. The pope was so thrilled about the flavor he asked for another scoop.
And he got it?
He got it.
Is there anything that can’t be made into gelato?
No, everything. That’s the beauty of the job is you can turn pretty much anything into gelato. I have over 450 flavors that I’ve done.
Is there anything you’ve tried and it didn’t work?
Oh, yes. Scallops. At Galileo restaurant I was working for Roberto Donna. [Cooking competition show] “Iron Chef” asked for him to participate and said the secret ingredient would be either scallops or lobster. Roberto asked me to make a recipe [to help him prepare] for “Iron Chef.” I made the lobster, and it turned out good. And then I did the scallops, and I told him to hope for the lobster. There’s no scallops gelato. It was nasty. To get the flavor, you cannot use the actual scallops, you use the eggs. But it was too fishy. The lobster was good. [Editor’s note: The secret ingredient turned out to be scallops, and Donna did not win.]
Your name, Gianluigi Dellaccio, sounds to me like a delicious gelato flavor. What flavor would you be?
If I had to name myself as a flavor ... my favorite flavor is nocciola, which is hazelnut. But it doesn’t sound like Dellaccio. Let me think a little bit. Hazelnut stracciatella [which is like chocolate chip]. How about that?