Villa Dolce was the inspiration of the Marcaccini brothers: Monte, Giancarlo, and Giannandrea. The product of an American mother and an Italian father, the Marcaccini brothers were raised in Rome, spent summers on the Adriatic coast, and came to California to attend high school and to play basketball against the best players in Southern California. All three earned basketball scholarships to Division I Universities and then returned to the “old country” to play professionally against Europe’s finest. Knowing that the window for pro athletes stays open only so long, the brothers began to plan for life after basketball.
Though citizens of two countries and two rich cultures their Italian roots ran deep. Fond memories of Italian summers included the ritual of gelato. In Rome these Gelaterias were the Starbucks of the day, a gathering place for good conversation and even better gelato. Recreating this authentic Italian pleasure became the Holy Grail. The Marcaccinis pursued Nino Ferrone, one of Italy’s premier gelato makers from Rome’s Il Gelatone. Convincing Nino to come to Los Angeles and share his 40 years of gelato knowledge, the brothers received an invaluable post-graduate education.
To ensure a genuine Italian gelato experience, the Marcaccinis imported all their equipment from Italy, along with the natural ingredients used to make such classic gelatos as Hazelnut, Bacio, and Tiramisu. It’s this authenticity that sets Villa Dolce Gelato in a class by itself. “Italians are passionate about their food and wine,” says Monte. “Quality is the most important thing. It doesn’t have to be expensive or exclusive to make an Italian happy. It just has to be authentic and well-made.”
These are the words and values that launched a business that has become one of the largest manufacturer of Artisan-style gelato in the United States, with chefs like Wolfgang Puck demanding that Villa Dolce Gelato be served in his restaurants. Villa Dolce Gelato can also be found in Hilton Resort Hotels, the Patina restaurants, and in many supermarket chains. While trying to stake out their territory outside the ice cream world, the brothers did find inspiration from a couple of guys named Ben and Jerry: Social Responsibility. “This is very much an American quality and approach to business. Companies, not just people, have a responsibility to the community in which they live”, says Giancarlo Marcaccini, “We wanted to incorporate this belief in our business model.”
“Villa Dolce is committed to sweetening the experience of life by delivering exceptional products and services to the world. We will selectively manufacture, market, and sell only those goods which enhance everyday living while respecting our shared planet,” he said.
Youngest brother, Gianandrea, was inspired by the innovative, unexpected ice cream flavors offered in the states. He recognized an opportunity to produce a more creative product range while staying true to the higher quality standards that differentiate gelato from American ice cream. “I wanted to have some American-style fun with the product. Mix and match and experiment with new flavors without compromising quality,” he said. Villa Dolce is doing just that, offering various flavors and working on more every day.
The Marcaccinis are still playing competitive basketball, winning league championships against ex-pro and college stars. Basketball has taught them a lot about life and ingrained in them an amazing work ethic. The countless hours shooting jump shots, hours in the weight room, studying the game, the teamwork and camaraderie, all are being applied to a business that brings pleasure to thousands of people across the country.
The Villa Dolce story is only beginning.