Made in Vienna: Plush Gelato & Coffee
Made in Vienna is a weekly series about locally-grown businesses. This week, a woman uses her father's memories of Vietnamese gelato to open Plush Gelato & Coffee
Dinh Luong grew up with a father who is a coffee fanatic, always looking for a place that makes good quality coffee.
Luong grew up in the U.S., but was born in Vietnam. Her parents would tell her stories about the country -- including high quality gelato they've never been able to find anywhere else.
"My parents are always telling me how back in the day when they were dating, they would have this delicious velvety smooth ice cream that they could never find here," Luong said.
Luong hoped to bring those kinds of memories to the slew of customers lined up outside her Plush Gelato & Coffee shop Saturday, as Maple Avenue's newest gelato and coffee shop held a "meet and greet" with Vienna locals to offer free samples of their products.
The shop is owned by Dinh and her husband Henry, Maryland natives who are currently looking for a home in Vienna. The couple came up with the idea for the shop together, as a way to create the ultimate ice cream and coffee experience.
That was the genesis behind combining the artisan coffee flavors with the smooth-tasting gelato that her parents so fondly remembered.
"I have been having ongoing training the last few years on becoming a gelato master," she said. "My husband and I also trained to become professional baristas. We take our coffee making really seriously and think of coffee as an art."
Dinh said it takes a lot of detail to create the perfect espresso shot, making sure the foam is a wet-paint kind of texture.
"The flavor should be pronounced, but not too strong," she said. "You should also taste the natural sweetness of the milk, too, in making a perfect cup of latte."
As for the gelato, with flavors such as Caramel Latte, Tiramisu, Vietnamese Coffee, Basil Mint and Cinnamon, the customers always have a unique amount of choices.
"We sampled a few of the gelatos today and each one was better than the next," said Robert Williams, who was at the grand opening with his three kids. "The best thing about this, is that it's much healthier than ice cream and I'm sure this is going to be our go-to place from now on for dessert."
The Luongs are looking forward to creating more flavors and coming up with taste combinations their customers won't expect. The gelatos are made from scratch each day, which allows for the creation of a lot of new flavors and a lot of control over the ingredients that make the final product.
"One of our house favorites is sweet honey and ginger and we use all natural ingredients, with no preservatives," she said. "We choose high-quality milk and natural cream, and our gelato is very healthy with half the fat and calories of regular ice cream."
The shop also has sorbets made with fresh fruit, and offerings for people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy or diabetic.
Coming soon will be the addition of gourmet panini sandwiches, which will be made with natural meats and ingredients.
"We really wanted to make this a place that people could come to and enjoy at any time of the day, whether it's for coffee, dessert or lunch," Dinh said. "Vienna is a very close-knit community and family friendly, and we feel very welcomed. I can't wait until we move here."
The shop, located at 175 Maple Ave. E, is open seven days a week.