Pitango Gelato

Written by on April 30, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(pitangogelato.com) – Reston Town Center, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Our friends, Jack & Lenore wanted to take us out for gelato and to walk off our large meal at Shamshiry, so we decided to go to the Reston Town Center. While waiting for Jack & Lenore to park their car, Chris and I happened to come by Pitango. Assuming it was the gelato place, we had our friends meet us there for a tasty treat.

Type of cuisine: Gelato and fresh fruit sorbets, pure and simple. “Instead of merely using commodity ingredients that are standard in the industry, we actually go to extremes to acquire “extreme ingredients.” For example, we use not just fresh milk or organic milk, but grass-fed organic milk. And we go the extra mile for every single ingredient, from the Bronte Pistachios that we import ourselves to our fresh fruits and our premium chocolates. We are not looking for deals or discounts; our suppliers know that if they have an exceptional product we’ll pay the exceptional price. We have based our business model on offering our customers a different product. We believe customers do know the difference and that once they come to appreciate our product they will not settle for anything else.” On their website, they also boast, “At Pitango Gelato, we invest our time and resources in instilling our products with the wholesome, distinctive flavor that only real milk and real fresh ingredients can provide. We use nothing artificial; no coloring, flavoring or chemicals, and no excessive fats or sugars because we believe that our customers can taste the difference. Our gelato and sorbets enjoy a clean, balanced flavor and do not leave behind the unpleasant aftertaste and greasy palate associated with industrial-strength ice cream products. Our customers understand the difference in quality and price between the pint of fresh local strawberries that goes into our strawberry sorbet and an artificially flavored product that may go by a similar name.” In addition to serving gelato and sorbet, Pitango also offers a variety of beverages, “We approach our hot beverages the same way we approach our gelato—using the best ingredients we can find and taking no shortcuts. The same organic, grass-fed milk that makes our gelato so incredible is also used in our hot chocolate and coffee beverages. We use a custom blend of Arabica beans roasted for us by Baltimore’s finest, Zeke’s Coffee, a boutique, small-batch specialty roaster. In addition to authentic espresso, cappuccino and caffè latte, we serve the following specialty drinks:

Hot Chocolate: Our Italian hot chocolate is thick, rich and intense. Like its espresso counterpart, it is served in small portions because a little bit goes a long way. It contains no starches or thickeners. Fresh whipped cream optional. Choco-Latte: A creamy blend of our Italian hot chocolate with frothy steamed milk.  Marocchino: A shot of espresso with an equal part of hot chocolate. Fresh whipped cream optional. Affogato: The ultimate desert-snack-energy-booster, afogato combines espresso with a dollop of hazelnut or chocolate gelato.”

Ambiance: Floor to ceiling windows and door welcome visitors into a space with high-ceilings and light industrial accents. The yellow walls and brightly colored artwork welcome you, as do the flavors arranged in the display directly ahead of you as you enter. Having never been, I was so focused on the flavors in front of my face that I hardly paid attention to the remainder of the space. I vaguely recall limited seating to the left of the colorful array of gelato and sorbets, just beyond the cashier. The space feels very open, somewhat stark, and slightly warm, with the friendly smiles of the employees and happy faces of customers all around. 

What I ordered: I sampled a number of flavors that struck me upon entering, namely the dark chocolate orange sorbet! My samples included: Spicy Chocolate – Think Juliette Binoche in the film Chocolat. While we can’t vouch for its aphrodisiac qualities, we can attest to the fact that a hint of hot pepper is a perfect, if unexpected, complement to our Dark Chocolate; Orange Dark Chocolate – We lace our Chocolate Noir sorbet with a hint of orange essence for a truly decadent combination; Sicilian Almond – Thanks to the unique almonds we import from Sicily, this flavor is redolent of this delicate yet unmistakable favorite; Lemon – There’s no better way to cool off on a hot summer’s day than with this pure and simple sorbet—the quintessential Italian flavor. Made with fresh-squeezed organic Florida lemons; Cardamom; and Tangerine – The unmistakable flavor of fresh-squeezed organic Florida tangerines dominates this refreshing sorbet. Paired with Vanilla, it offers a new take on a classic American combination. I chose a small cup with half dark chocolate orange and half tangerine, keeping to a theme. One of my dining companions, after having decided, changed his mind the moment he tasted Cardamom, and ordered one large cup of just that. The third in our party, selected a large cup with three flavors: Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut) – Hazelnuts and chocolate combine to create an irresistible flavor all its own, Dark Chocolate Orange and Sicilian Almond. The fourth in our party also went with a large cup and three flavors: Sicilian Almond, Cardamom and Crema – This Italian custard is a simple and elegant flavor that’s both delicate and satisfying.

What I loved: Always a favorite, any time I see dark chocolate and orange combined on a menu, I order it, and I love it. This visit to Pitango was no different! A flavor I would return for time and again. Not having sampled the Sicilian Almond until we were ready to walk out of the establishment, I found it to be quite nice and light. I really enjoyed the cardamom, but moreso on the second sample than the first; though I think an entire cup of it would be too much.

Why I loved it: A refreshing walk outdoors, an environment bustling with restaurants and people, including families with chidlren, and dark chocolate orange sorbet, enjoyed with good friends and laughter made for a perfect end to a delightful evening.

Cost: High

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