In Spanish, “Carmela” means garden.
The garden-themed ice cream concept behind Carmela began with co-owner, Jessica Mortarotti, and her childhood memories of cooking with her grandmother, whose name is… you guessed it, Carmela. Ahhh, it’s all making sense now.
Jessica, along with Zachary Cox, began producing Carmela Ice Cream in 2007. They started out at local farmers markets and eventually expanded into two permanent locations —
1) PASADENA: 2495 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104
2) LOS ANGELES: 7920 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Carmela Ice Cream has now turned into a well-known and well-regarded spot in Los Angeles for a bowl (or cone) of exclusive, seasonal, artisanal frozen flavors — made with organic dairy and farmers market ingredients!
Last week my mom and I decided to go check out what we had been hearing about all across town.
Our rendezvous began with lunch in downtown Pasadena and a short jaunt across to the north side of the 210 freeway to the ice cream shop for dessert.
The shop is in kind of an awkward spot — it’s difficult to find parking, but if you go past it a little bit and turn right there is 20 minute parking just before the residential street. This area was open for us, but I should point out that it was on an overcast Wednesday around noon. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to find a parking spot on a sunny day or during the weekend!
After entering the shop and waiting our turn, we were helped by Jessica and one of her employees, Kira. I could immediately tell that they both have an obvious passion for their ice cream and for creating the best possible experience for each and every individual that enters their door.
Kira and I enjoyed sharing our love for blogging (she has a fantastic food blog — www.kikicuisine.com — which you should absolutely take a look at!)
I was actually having so much fun chatting with Kira and snapping pictures of the charming interior (the chandeliers are such an adorable touch) that I nearly forgot to order.
Now, on to the good stuff: I sampled “Fresh Mint with Cacao Nibs” and “Lavender Honey”. I ultimately decided on a scoop of “Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs” and their best-seller, “Salted Caramel”. I was more than satisfied with my decision! Carmela ice cream is everything I hoped it would be! There’s a reason they have awards and articles on display (they’ve won multiple “best ice cream” accolades in a variety of LA-based publications), they’ve truly earned them. Seen here, here, and here…
The “Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs” had an enticing texture — the chocolate flavor was deep and rich; cacao nibs were chopped into tiny pieces and blended throughout, allowing the right amount of crunch in each bite. The “Salted Caramel” was not your average caramel, it was mature and evolved. It had somewhat of a warmth to it that emanated through the frozen confection, in a very very good way. The saltiness made me crave more and more and more. The flavor never got old, every spoonful exploded with flavor.
My mom ordered Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean and added salted caramel sauce on top!
I’ll be honest, I don’t normally choose vanilla. They always seem to taste the same. Not this one! Carmela uses real vanilla beans with absolutely no need for artificial flavoring. By far the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had.
Thanks mom, you were a great hand model!
Tell us! What have you ordered (or would you order) at Carmela?