At Lambertville’s OwowCow,
good cream is non-negotiable
Photography by Joanna Tully
After a career as a graphic designer in New York City, John Fezzuoglio was ready to try his creative hand at something new. So he transitioned toward ice cream.
Fezzuoglio opened OwowCow Creamery in Ottsville, Pennsylvania, in 2009—and it didn’t take long for word to spread. “We have gone from cracking a few dozen local, organic eggs a week, to over 900, all by hand,” he says. The buzz warranted opening a second shop in Wrightstown, Pennsylvania, followed by a third in Lambertville, which opened its doors in April.
The secret ingredient in Fezzuoglio’s ice cream? Cream. Its sourcing, its quality and its flavor is central to his passion.
All the cream that goes into OwowCow ice cream comes from organic, grass-fed cows in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. “You can tell good cream by seeing its butteriness when it rises to the top, and by the way it feels,” Fezzuoglio says. “The taste of good cream is earthy and complex.”
“You can tell good cream by seeing its butteriness
when it rises to the top, and by the way it feels.
The taste of good cream is earthy and complex.”
—John Fezzuoglio, owner, OwowCow Creamery
Fezzuoglio starts with raw cream and mixes it with organic skim milk, eggs and a sweetener like organic cane sugar or local honey. “We never oversweeten or over-flavor or else the taste of the cream would get lost,” he says. He then pasteurizes the cream himself, using low-temperature pasteurization. “It takes longer, but you get to preserve many enzymes and beneficial microorganisms, and it also keeps the flavorful, complex nature of the cream.”
The mixture is then cooled and aged for five to six days, which Fezzuoglio says makes the mixture even creamier. This product is known as the “base,” and ingredients are later added to create flavors. The majority of ice cream producers, large and small, use commercially produced base because of strict regulations around pasteurization. But monitoring the authenticity of ingredients in his base was so important to Fezzuoglio that before renting space or purchasing any ice cream– making equipment, he persisted for 9 months until he was granted permission by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to make his own. “We will never compromise the quality of our cream,” he says. Fezzuoglio began his journey into the ice cream business by taking Penn State’s Ice Cream Short Course, where he learned the fundamentals of the craft. “It was a very intensive course, covering everything from chemistry to sanitation and making ice cream in today’s industry norms,” he says.
Fezzuoglio, however, is not one to follow norms. Developing smallbatch, artisanal ice cream the way he wanted to was something that took additional research. “The biggest issue was mastering emulsification and creating a smooth and silky texture without using artificial ingredients,” he says, noting that instead of using monoglycerides and high-fructose corn syrup, he uses eggs and honey.
He also doesn’t use any recipes. He constructs each batch of ice cream purely by taste. “Part of being an artisan is being intimately involved in the process and allowing that information to enrich the product,” he says. “There’s an art in learning how to taste and discovering the subtleties and nuances—but it all really starts with the cream.”
Ingredients for OwowCow’s handcrafted flavors, like Blueberry Lemon and Rosewater Cardamom, hail from local farms such as Solebury Orchards and Blue Moon Acres. The kids at a nearby elementary school bring him organic mint from their school’s garden.
Being a part of the local community is an integral part of his business philosophy, and likely contributed to his Ottsville shop being named one of the ten best ice cream shops in America by the Huffington Post last summer. “I don’t want to simply sell ice cream,” Fezzuoglio says. “I want to help unite people through something they’ll enjoy.”
Why ice cream?
“I chose ice cream because it is a happy food,” Fezzuoglio says. “It has an amazing ability to instantly wash away your worries.”
237 N. Union St., Lambertville