Katy Perry’s latest release pulsates through the room. Skittles-colored lights bounce from the revolving disco ball and reflect from one mirrored wall to the other. Neon signs twitch in the windows. It’s a typical Friday night, but this isn’t your typical venue.
This is one popular George Washington University hangout where you won’t need a fake I.D. Although it seems like a club, students come here to indulge their sweet cravings, not to dance. At Cone E Island (2000 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.), ice cream is the main attraction.
Over the past few years, trendy frozen yogurt shops have been popping up all over the District, leaving great classic ice cream shops overlooked and out in the cold. In an effort to buck that trend, we set out to explore ice cream parlors in Foggy Bottom and Georgetown that offer something unique: one lick and you’ll never go back to “froyo” again.
Much like Manouch and Crepeaway, Cone E Island is a GW establishment.
“For me, Cone E is part of GW,” says Andrea M., a sophomore.
Her first time at Cone E was at the very beginning of her freshman year. “I was in the DC Bound program and it was raining so we skipped our outdoor activity and our guide took us all to Cone E. I remember cramming 15 kids on those sofas.”
These three hideous yet inexplicably plush sofas occupy Cone E’s upstairs loft, a space no bigger than two Gelman elevators decorated like a tacky 1970s disco. A dozen neon ice cream cones on the wall put customers in a trance.
“We call it ‘Club Cone E,’” Andrea explains. “I’m going to sound like an old person trying to be cool, but it’s always ‘hip and happening’. It has an energy that you love seeing on a campus.”
Open until midnight daily, Cone E is frequented by GW students on their way to or from a party.
While the atmosphere at Cone E is unique, don’t forget that the main attraction is ice cream. For $2.82 per scoop, you can choose from classic flavors such as mint chocolate chip, cookies and cream and chocolate chip cookie dough supplied by Edy’s and Hershey’s, or more interesting options like birthday cake, pumpkin, or peach.
If you require a treat with even more calories, try the cookie cup with a scoop of the shop’s custom flavor, the Original Cone E: vanilla ice cream, brownie chunks and caramel swirl.
If powerful, no-nonsense flavor is what you’re craving, follow your adventurous stomach deep into Georgetown to Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato (1569 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.).
While it’s not quite classic ice cream, gelato has half the fat and probably ten times the flavor.
Options such as Thai coconut milk, lemon ricotta cardamom, grapefruit Campari and salted caramel sound as good to the ear as they are on the tongue. One lick of bosc pear bourbon, and you’ve convinced yourself you’re actually eating a pear.
The flavors are so unbelievable because they are believable; they taste exactly like what they are supposed to be.
At Dolcezza, there are no imposters allowed. Here raw, real flavors made from fresh, local ingredients send a shock to the taste buds and a brain freeze to the head.
“I felt like I was eating pomegranate when I ate the pomegranate gelato. It was amazing,” says customer Angelica F., 19. “I also tried chocolate, which is classic, but… this chocolate was so rich and thick that it tasted like melted chocolate in frozen form.”
Kelsey M., 23, an employee at Dolcezza, explains the secret behind the gelato: “We use whole milk instead of cream. The gelato is also made with a process that uses a lot of air, which makes it denser and more flavor-packed than ice cream. All our gelato is made here in (our) basement.”
A small serving of gelato costs $5 and comes with two scoops, because making someone choose just one flavor is cruel and unusual punishment.
Although gelato is originally an Italian creation, Dolcezza has an Argentine twist.
“The owners are from Argentina,” says Kelsey. “A lot of the flavors we have show that, like dulce de leche.”
The shop also serves churros, a variety of coffee drinks and xocolatl: drinking chocolate spiced with cinnamon and salt.
If Cone E Island is like Pentagon City Mall on Black Friday, Dolcezza is a Georgetown boutique. The former is loud, hectic, and crowded, while the latter is chic but pricey and overlooked.
Go to Georgetown Scoops (2818 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.) if you’re looking for a compromise between these two options.
Scoops offers eclectic flavors, calm outdoor seating, mid-range prices and a location in Georgetown that is close enough to GW’s campus to accept GWorld payments.
Exotic options like lychee, peach brandy ginger and green tea tantalize customers with selections difficult to find elsewhere. The ice cream, which goes for $3.60 per scoop, is homemade by an off-site chef who creates it especially for the shop, according to employee Frank P., 19.
Loyal customer Margaret T., 43, says she can’t resist Georgetown Scoops’ Vietnamese coffee ice cream. “Every day after my run, I stop by and get a scoop. I know it’s counterproductive, but I can’t get enough.”
Georgetown Scoops also boasts having the best red velvet cupcake in town, giving Baked and Wired, Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcakes serious competition. Three-tier trays display the scarlet sweets in the windows summoning passers-by inside.
Customers can enjoy their scoops al fresco at the tables outside the shop while watching fashionable shoppers stroll by on the cobblestoned Georgetown street.
Although there are many more ice cream shops in the neighborhood, these three have something for everyone. Cone E Island satisfies a sugar addict’s cravings while continuing the party late into the night. A trip to Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato raises your expectations and certifies you as a cold-treat connoisseur. Georgetown Scoops offers exotic flavors in a location close to home. Whichever one you choose, remember this adage: friends don’t let friends eat froyo.
Cone E Island
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Mon–Sat: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato
1569 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Sun–Thu: 11 a.m. to 9p.m.
Fri–Sat: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
2818 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W
Mon: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Tue–Thu: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri–Sat: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.