With fall temperatures in Pittsburgh reaching scorching levels, we might as well pretend we’re somewhere a bit more Mediterranean.
Luckily, a new fruit cello distillery has opened in Coraopolis, helping to complete the illusion that Pittsburghers are relaxing on the Amalfi Coast.
Bella Bambini Cello, or BB Cello, celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, officially serving its authentic (and potent) fruit cellos to the city of Pittsburgh.
These drinks are a labor of love for Grandfather and Granddaughter team Jim and Brittany Breen, who founded the company with their close friend and business partner Michael Quinlan.
Brittany and Jim have been making homemade cello for years. The process can be incredibly arduous, but the duo takes pride in the work. And, their work has certainly paid off. Their cellos became so popular among their friends and family that they decided to begin offering it to the rest of Pittsburgh.
Jim previously worked in Pittsburgh’s steel industry, and would travel to Italy a lot for work. He uncovered the recipe, and he and Brittany have been working ever since to make authentic-tasting Limoncello in Pittsburgh.
Together, they hand-peel the skin off all their lemon and oranges, ensuring no pith left behind on the fruit.
“They will sit for hours doing it by hand,” laughs Quinlan. “Many companies use machines, but good stuff is made very carefully.”
BB Cello currently produces four types of fruit cello: classic Limoncello, as well as Orangecello, Blueberrycello, and Pineapplecello. The business hopes to establish a core group of flavors that will be available year round, as well as a seasonal variety that changes throughout the year.
In addition to their attention to detail, an important aspect of BB Cello is that the company uses the more traditional grain alcohol to infuse their fruit. Most folks who make homemade cello in Pennsylvania use vodka, as it can be difficult to procure grain alcohol.
Although it tastes sweet, this drink is potent at 65 proof. BB Cello’s recipe is made with real fruit, and includes nothing artificial.
Once a batch has been mixed, it will sit for minimum of 30 days in glass jars in a cool and dark space before it’s ready to be enjoyed.
The BB Cello space in Coraopolis is a production facility, and tasting room for the company. Guests are invited to stop in, enjoy a complimentary tasting and purchase bottles.
Quinlan suggests that customers keep the drink in the freezer, and serve it as cool as possible. Popular ways to enjoy cello include sipping, mixed with soda, included in a sangria, or served in a glass with frozen fruit dropped in.
And the name? Jim and Brittany were in Bellagio, Italy, and a locals kept referring to the children – particularly Brittany – as “Bella Bambini.” The nickname stuck, and when they decided to moved forward with the business, it only made sense to pick this name.
More information can be found online. The tasting room is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. BB Cello will soon be available at Pennsylvania Libations in the Strip District.
The business attributes the generous assistance of Kim McLaughlin of McLaughlin Distillery for helping them get their business off the ground.
Bella Bambini Cello (1042 5th Avenue, Coraopolis)