Ice cream lovers who haven't studied up on D'Ambrosio, the excellent Ballard gelato shop that recently opened a second location in Capitol Hill, are wont to order a flavor that sounds fancy. Determined to up the Italian quotient of their experience, they gravitate toward figs with caramel and marscapone or crunchy biscotti or any other variety they can't imagine finding by the tub in a Safeway freezer case.
But students of D'Ambrosio know the sugar studio rightly prides itself on its rendition of pistachio, which is a strong contender for the city's best nut-based dessert. Like all the gelatos on offer at D'Ambrosio, the pistachio variety (Pistacchio di Bronte, if you want to get extra Euro about it) is slowly churned so it absorbs more air than plain ice cream. It's rich, dense and gauzy in a good way.
The process - along with D'Ambrosio's reliance on fresh, organic ingredients and high-end Italian machinery - helps concentrate and clarify flavors, so the pistachio character of its pale green gelato is unmistakable. And it's not just any pistachio that fuels the flavor: D'Ambrosio uses a prized Sicilian pistachio that only grows in the rocky soil shadowed by Mount Etna. The pistachio is fragrant, intense and every bit as sophisticated as panna cotta, among other other exotic distractions on D'Ambrosio's list.