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Italian Immigrant Brings Gelato to Washington, DC

Gianluigi Dellaccio competes at the Gelato World Tour event in Chicago.
Gianluigi Dellaccio competes at the Gelato World Tour event in Chicago.
Italian Immigrant Brings Gelato to Washington, D.C.
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Gianluigi Dellaccio operates three gelato shops in the Washington, D.C. area. Each shop is called Dolci Gelati.

Shoppers can find his products in local stores and supermarkets.

Dellaccio is living his dream of bringing gelato to the United States. But it was not easy to get to where he is today.

Delaccio grew up in Italy. Before he became interested in making gelato, he was a star athlete. He says that as a water polo player with the Italian national team, he developed a trait of persistence. That drive was helpful when he came to the U.S. in 2000.

After his sports career ended, he spent years learning how to make gelato. He learned the business from family members in Germany.

Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, but there are differences between the two frozen desserts. Like ice cream, gelato is made with milk and cream, but mixed together with eggs, sugar and flavoring.

Dellaccio perfected his method for making gelato while working in Milan. That is where he became a master gelato maker.

A festival-goer tastes gelato at the Gelato World Tour event in Chicago.
A festival-goer tastes gelato at the Gelato World Tour event in Chicago.

He even taught young people in prison how to make gelato so they would have a skill when they were released.

It was one thing for Dellaccio to arrive in the U.S. with a dream. But it was something different to put the dream into action.

First, Dellaccio proved himself as a dessert-maker with a restaurant in Washington, D.C. He made pastries for an eatery called Galileo.

He tried to get a “green card,” the document that gives a non-citizen the right to work and live permanently in the U.S. But it was a long process.

“It was very tough,” he said. “Sometimes you have those days that you feel lonely and sad.”

It was not until 2006 that he received the important residency document. That was the same year he opened his first gelato shop.

But it took time for Washingtonians to learn about his product. Dellaccio went from restaurant to restaurant on an Italian Vespa motor bike. He carried samples of his gelato on a small trailer connected to the back.

That is how he gained buyers for the creations he makes in his gelato kitchen.

Now Dellaccio has a successful business, and on warm days, his stores are busy with people looking for a cold treat.

But he does not want to stop there.

“Once you reach a goal, you need to put another target to keep going,” he said. “Because if you reach one goal and you settle, that’s the day that you go down.”

So now Dellaccio is trying to become the best gelato maker in the world.

He is off to a good start. His flavor -- Saffron Pistachio with Candied Lemon Peel -- won a prize at the Gelato World Tour event in Chicago earlier this year.

The prize gave him a right to return to Italy in 2017 for a competition. The person who makes the best flavor will earn the world championship.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Arash Arabasadi wrote this story for Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Do you think Dellaccio’s flavor will be named the best in the world? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

gelaton. frozen milk and cream mixed together with eggs, sugar and flavoring.

trait – n. a quality that makes one person or thing different from another

persistence – n. the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people

dessertn. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

flavoringn. a substance that is added to a food or drink to give it a desired taste

star – n. the most important and well-known performer in a movie, play, etc.

master – adj. highly skilled

restaurant – n. a place where you can buy and eat a meal

trailern. a long platform or box with wheels that is pulled behind a truck or car and used to transport things