Carmela Artisan Creamery

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Carmela Artisan Creamery boasts artisan ice cream, hand made from locally sourced ingredients. Fresh, flavorful, and fantastic! Read on to find out why you simply must make a visit to Carmela.

I was compensated by Epicurious, to write this article about a local purveyor, Carmela Artisan Creamery,but I have high regard for this company, and my opinions are my own.

Pomegranate sherbet, one of Carmela’s many seasonal ice cream flavors.

My very first post, nearly 4 1/2 years ago to the day, was about Carmela Artisan Creamery in Altadena, California. They were a brand new shop, and I, a blogger with exactly one post under my belt.

This post is about a local company in my hometown, but the message is the same no matter where you live. There are craftsmen in all of our towns, who place personal service and attention to quality above all else. I hope you will seek them out in your town as well.

Don’t visit northern Pasadena’s Carmela Artisan Creamy in November. At least not if you’re seeking two of their most popular flavors, strawberry buttermilk or cucumber sorbet. That’s because Jessica Mortarotti and her partner, Zachary Cox, use only the finest quality, seasonal and locally sourced produce, herbs, and flowers to make their small-batch ice cream and sorbets. As it is, strawberries and cucumbers just aren’t in season in November.

Zachary Cox and Jessica, owners of Carmela Artisan Creamery, Altadena, California.
Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti, owners of Carmela Artisan Creamery, Altadena, California.

You will, however, find candied pecan, pomegranate sherbet, salted caramel, and cardamom, to name a few. With the exception of the imported vanilla and chocolate, the ingredients are sourced from local farmers.

Jessica is passionate about the products served at Carmela Artisan Creamery.

She strives to obtain only the highest quality ingredients. In the spring, Jessica will taste her favorite vendors’ strawberries, waiting until they are just perfectly ripe. While the strawberries might look beautiful, they may have not reached their peak flavor, and therefore are not yet Carmela material.


Founded in 2007, Jessica and Zachary had a vision for Carmela Artisan Creamery to be an ice cream shop like no other.

The vision: A high-quality, small batch artisanal ice cream shop with unusual flavors. Having never made ice cream before, Jessica attended a two-week ice cream course at U Penn. She learned the science behind ice cream making, but received very little hands on experience. It was only back at home in her kitchen, where she really began creating her signature flavors, and taught herself the basics of ice cream making.

Carmela's makes their own waffle cones.
Carmela’s makes their own waffle cones in house.

The farmer’s market is a source of inspiration for her flavor combinations like honey lavender, or rose petal. When a vendor asked her to use his cucumbers, Jessica created one of their most popular summer flavors, cucumber sorbet. While they strive to use organic ingredients as much as possible, (all of their dairy is local and organic) often times their locally sourced ingredients are “above organic, meaning that they go above and beyond the government recommendations, but are just missing the official (and costly) organic label.

The commitment to quality isn’t limited to ice cream, it is part of the Carmela Artisan Creamery philosophy.

Jessica says she focuses on three things: quality of her ingredients, a great experience, and fun. Go to Carmela any time, day or night, and you may find a line, 20 deep, winding out the tiny store and onto the pavement. Don’t be in a hurry when you come either, because part of the experience is the excellent customer service.

This was taken in 2011, when Carmela's had just opened, it was my then 10 year old daughter, Sophie, (right) who told me that I "HAD to try Carmela".
This was taken in 2011, when Carmela’s had just opened, it was my then 10 year old daughter, Sophie, (right) who told me that I “HAD to try Carmela”.

Fact: I never feel rushed at Carmela Artisan Creamery.

In fact, management encourages customers to sample as many flavors as they like. That is how I found my favorite flavor, Guinness! There’s definitely a party atmosphere in the queue outside, as patrons mingle and share tips on which flavors to try. Jessica believes that even customers who don’t make a purchase will remember the experience and return later. It’s that kind of attention to detail, quality of ingredients, and respect for both customers and suppliers that makes Carmela Artisan Creamery one of the top rated spots in Southern California.

Jessica and Zachary serving up quality ice cream, one scoop at a time.
Jessica and Zachary serving up quality ice cream, one scoop at a time.

Want to meet purveyors who are making a difference with their customers? Check out’s “Out of the Kitchen”, an ongoing exploration of the relationships that build and sustain the food industry. See how hyper-local food markets operate, and how their focus on quality and service keep customers coming back for more.

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  1. Dear Cynthia, I loved learning about Carmela and the amazing ice cream shop she and Zachary run. I’d love to try that Guinness myself someday. I love attention to detail, personal customer service and that each visit is a memorable experience. We have a cupcakery in town, Queen City Cupcakes that reminds me of Carmela Artisan Ice Cream. Yum!

  2. Wow this place sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to go with my whole family. I can’t believe this place is in my own backyard – keep these kinds of articles coming.

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