Hopkinton man perfects limoncello with Fabrizia Spirits
By JONATHAN PHELPS
While visiting family in Italy in 2007, Philip Mastroianni got his first taste of limoncello made with lemons grown on his cousin’s property.
Upon his return to Newton, he tried to make some on his own — with the first batch done in time to be shared with family over the holidays. A year later, he launched Fabrizia Spirits to sell the product.
“I was working as an accountant in Boston and doing this for fun. That’s when my uncle gave me the idea to start the business,” Mastroianni said. “I said, ‘Uncle Joe, that would never work.’”
After a restless night of sleep, he decided to go for it.
Now the Hopkinton man runs the business from Salem, New Hampshire, selling in 16 states and Washington, D.C. He owns the business along with his brother, Nick, who oversees production. The company employs five people.
The company only sold the original limoncello for four years before starting to sell other products, including Italian margaritas and blood orange. The canned version of the Italian margaritas is now the company’s top-selling product, Mastroianni said.
“We’ve grown slow, but steady,” he said. “We started off having no knowledge of the industry or production. We had to learn both.”
The lemons used in the company’s products are imported from Sicily, Italy. All of the ingredients are natural and made in small batches.
In 2015, the company started to make the Italian margaritas instead of throwing away tens of thousands of lemons without using the juice.
“When you make limoncello you only use the zest,” Mastroianni said. “The limoncello is flavored by what the Italians and we call the essential oils. ”
The margaritas are made out of about 60 percent real lemonade, cane sugar and include no preservatives. That’s mixed with the company’s limoncello and tequila.
The company is moving from a 2,000-square-foot to a 6,000-square-foot space. It owns a lemon-peeling machine imported from Italy, which is believed to be the only one in the country.
“The goal is to have our own canning line by 2020,” Mastroianni said.
Locally, the products are sold at Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Sperry’s in Wayland, Holliston Wine and Spirits and Incontro Italian Restaurant in Franklin.
Canned ready-to-drink cocktails are popular in the alcoholic beverage industry. The can products were unveiled in 2017.
“We made 800 cases of them and they sold out in two days,” Mastroianni said. This past year the company made 2,500 cases.
In April, the company will release Fabrizia Spirits Italian lemonade.
“It is the same drink but with vodka instead of tequila,” he said. “It will be in a yellow can. We are going all in on the cans.”
Fabrizia is a town about 40 minutes from where Mastroianni’s grandparents grew up before moving to Newton. Mastroianni graduated from Newton North High School in 2001 and attended Bentley University in Waltham.
“It means, ‘One who works with their hands,’” he said.
The products range in price from $11.99 for the can to $18.99 for the limoncello.