Photos and Story by Emily G. Peters
For most of us, it’s never too early for ice cream. On a Sunday morning at Pasadena’s Carmela Ice Cream, doors open at 11 a.m. It’s just late enough so a scoop of something sweet is completely allowable.
Here, Carmela patrons take a moment to enjoy their cones on the bench outside, the eyes of neighborhood kids fixating on the slow-melting scoops. Ice cream: we’re all at the mercy of its deliciousness.
Carmela founder and flavor developer Jessica Mortarotti certainly tapped into something fundamentally human when she opened Carmela Ice Cream in 2007. Her background wasn’t in food service, but that didn’t deter her from her goal of starting her own business.
“I was extremely interested in food concepts and trends, so starting a handmade ice cream business seemed perfect,” said Mortarotti, who heads up the business with co-founder and business developer Zachary Cox. “I believed that artisan ice cream was a wave that was about to hit the food world and was excited to get started, despite the fact that I had never made ice cream before!”
Luckily for us, Cox and Mortarotti’s determination paid off. The Pasadena location is elegant, friendly and fragrant with the scent of toasted waffle cones. Homemade vanilla bean marshmallows and fudgy chocolate sauce are on hand for patrons looking to dress their pints in style. Buttery cookies, coffee, tea? It’s all here too. As one of the few artisanal ice cream shops to pasteurize their own ice cream bases, each element complements the effort she and her staff sink into their craft.
As for the flavors (like Mortarotti’s current pick of fresh mint with cacao nibs), they’re elegant, too— and, in a way, distinctly Californian.
“We work with local and seasonal produce to craft the freshest and best-tasting ice cream imaginable,” said Mortarotti. “It’s that attention to quality that has consistently put us as one of the top ice cream companies in the nation.”
Now ten years in business and the delicate script of the Carmela Ice Cream logo has become a familiar sight around town. Winning countless awards both at home and nationally, Carmela churns away all over Los Angeles with storefronts in Pasadena, Woodland Hills and Mid-City. Staying true to their roots, they still scoop at farmers markets from Hollywood to South Pasadena to Monrovia. With such a universally appealing product, Mortarotti and Cox don’t plan to slow down.
“We have always been interested in growing Carmela as a brand in a way that maintains the integrity of our product and our values,” she said. “We look forward to opening up more retail locations outside of the three we currently have.”
Even with that vision in motion, Pasadena will always hold a special place in her heart.
“Pasadena turned out to be an amazing place for us to launch our first location of Carmela,” she said. “We cherish our customer base and their commitment to the products we create here.”
The Pasadena location of Carmela Ice Cream Co. is located at 2495 E. Washington Blvd. Contact them at www.carmelaicecream.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | (626) 797-1405 and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @carmelaicecream.