Beverages

Tales From The Top Shelf: Villa Massa Limoncello

I won't hurt you.
I won't hurt you. Photo by Kate McLean
Some people love limoncello— some are terrified of it, and for good reason. Unfortunately, there is a lot of limoncello both homemade and retail that are either sickingly sweet or reminiscent of lemon Pledge. With a recipe that dates back to 1890, and devoid of artificial coloring and ingredients, Villa Massa is the best ‘cello on the market, and totally clutch to have on hand in the freezer—right next to the lemon sorbetto. Sgroppino anyone?

To begin, Villa Massa uses only the best lemons when making this quintessential Italian sipper. The PGI-protected “limone di Sorrento,” is hand-picked, ripe and juicy, in sunny Sorrento. The prized citrus is then finely peeled using razor sharp kiwi peelers imported from New Zealand. Perfect shavings sans bitter, white pith. To make limoncello, a neutral grain spirit is essential, but really, one with a high alcohol content, like, gulp, Everclear. The strength of the alcohol is what pulls the color and oils from the lemon zest.

After a few months of infusing, the alcohol is finely strained and mixed with water and sugar.  Because Villa Massa uses all natural ingredients, it's best to consume within a year of bottling.  Lot's of producers use artificial coloring that results in a neon yellow product; because Villa Massa is authentic, the color is more of a muted yellow, which is why the bottle is frosted.

Back to Sgroppino—this icy-cold, hand mixed treat is insane.  Lemon sorbetto and limoncello whisked together and finally topped off with a little Prosecco. Like, wow. Villa Massa can be found at most liquor stores and usually runs about $26 a bottle. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.