Italian ice an imported summer treat
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Raymond Denuzzo's summer memories revolve around stick-ball and Italian ice. A 20-year resident of Sutton, Denuzzo, 49, recalls growing up in New York. "You looked for the ice stores. When the ice stores were open, that's when you knew it was summer time."
A carpenter by trade, Denuzzo made several trips back to New York after Hurricane Sandy to help rebuild houses that had been damaged during the storm. On one of his trips, driving home to West Virginia, he started thinking about a career change as he approached his 50th birthday. That is when he landed on the Italian ices of his childhood.
Denuzzo said that is what families in New York did every weekend, and he wanted, "to bring something of New York back to West Virginia."
"There was nothing like it here," Denuzzo said of Uncle Louie G's Italian ice. "It is creamy, almost like a gelato or a sorbet."
Denuzzo offers 11 flavors of ice. He says that the product is water based, dairy free, gluten free, and he even offers a few sugar-free options.
"It is not shaved ice," he said. "All the flavor doesn't go to the bottom."
Instead, the creation process incorporates the flavor into the product much like ice cream. Many of the flavors also have real fruit and nuts incorporated into the blend.
A flavor such as F.D.N.Y. Cherry will have real cherries in the mix, and Coconut Crave has real pieces of coconut.
Denuzzo said his most popular flavor is Spumoni. He said people familiar with Italian food may have encountered the odd sounding, but delicious combination of chocolate, lime and pistachio. Denuzzo said he did not expect the flavor to be such a hit, but it was his first sellout.
Uncle Louie G's is a franchise based out of Brooklyn, N.Y., and every couple of weeks Denuzzo drives up to New York to restock his inventory. He takes a truck with a freezer case and brings back enough ice to refill his storefront in Sutton and his mobile kiosk that he uses to travel around West Virginia to fairs, festivals and outdoor concerts.
Denuzzo can be found with his frozen treat cart every Friday night at Haddad Park for Live on the Levee. He also plans to be to be at the upcoming Multifest on the Capitol grounds and at the Lewis County 4-H Fair. The kiosk is also available for private parties.
Uncle Louie G's comes in several serving sizes including small (6 ounces) for $2.50, medium (12 ounces) for $4.25, pints for $7 and quarts $9.
Right now Denuzzo's business is seasonal, but he hopes to expand next year, incorporating New York's Nathan's Hotdogs with sauerkraut and onion sauce in his Sutton store.
Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1249.