Ice Cream Dreams
by Emily Kovach
A scoop of ice cream perched atop a cone: Is there a better symbol of summer? Though ice cream trucks incessantly circle the block hawking pre-wrapped pops, we suggest holding out for the good stuff. High quality dairy, seasonal fruits and inventive combos from local shops elevate ice cream from humble to sublime.
Dishes with Sweet Summer Fruit
Summer Berry Crisp Ice Cream
Zsa’s Ice Cream
Local berries and grass-pastured dairy mingle in this locally churned delight from Zsa’s Ice Cream that emulates the classic warm weather dessert. Bonus points for the gorgeous magenta hue from the rich berry purée.
Ripe for the picking: Mobile truck and cart at various locations (check social media), pints at Weaver’s Way Co-op, Tela’s Market and Green Aisle Grocery
Cantaloupe Rose, Sweet & Salty Summer Corn and Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles
Lil’ Pop Shop
Ice pops, the perfect single serving treat-on-a-stick, get the seasonal treatment from the flavor mavens at Lil’ Pop Shop. Zero artificial anything here, and the produce is sourced through Lancaster Farm Fresh.
Ripe for the picking: Lil’ Pop Shop, 265 S. 44th St. and 4608 Woodland Ave.
Paw Paw Ice Cream
This old-school soda fountain has a long list of flavors, including paw paw, a local fruit that’s briefly in season at summer’s end. The flavor is reminiscent of mango and floral banana, and is begging to be nestled into a maple- or vanilla-laced waffle cone.
Ripe for the picking: Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St.
Inventive Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sugar Philly Truck
French macaroons are reimagined in a genius way at the Sugar Philly Truck—as the cookies for ice cream sandwiches! A rotating menu of flavors like ginger rum pistachio, hibiscus melon and passionfruit blueberry burrata makes every visit to the truck an adventure.
All yours: Sugar Philly Truck, 38th Street between Walnut and Sansom streets
Verbena Raspberry on Sugar Cookies
Lemon verbena from local growers Chicory Florals and Heritage Farm adds an herbaceous layer to rich ice cream swirled with raspberries. Sugar cookies hold it all together and lend a delicate crunch.
All yours: Various locations including the Green Line Café, Di Bruno Bros., Fair Food Farmstand, and—this fall—at their own shop on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown.
Tish’s Warm Chocolate Brownie with Little Baby’s Cinnamon Ice Cream
This happening Kensington spot may be known for cheese, charcuterie, hoagies and funky sour beers, but they know how to rock a mean dessert, too. Brownies and ice cream are a timeless pair, and the chefs at Martha know well enough to withhold unnecessary distractions.
Sit and enjoy: Martha, 2113 E. York St.
Malt & Barley Sundae
The superb result of a creative deconstruction of beer’s ingredients, teased apart and reassembled on a dessert plate. Think: malt ice cream, candied puffed barley and whipped cream atop a cocoa nib blondie, drizzled with a ribbon of ale caramel.
Sit and enjoy: Southwark, 701 S. 4th St.
This iconic Italian dessert, a scoop of ice cream or gelato “drowned” in espresso, seems to be popping up all over the place, but we recommend leaving it to the resident gelato experts: the folks behind Capogiro, and now Capofitto, a charming pizza restaurant in Old City.
Sit and enjoy: Capofitto, 233 Chestnut St.
Sophisticated Soft Serve
Bing Bing Dim Sum
Ice cream base is infused with smoky tea and then spun with sticky sweet overripe bananas.
Savor your swirls: Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Ave.
Tons of Toppings
Kermit’s Bake Shoppe
Ice cream flavors keep it classic in chocolate and vanilla, but the selection of housemade toppings is out of control: cake crumbles in all the flavors, berry jam and lemon curd, sauces (salted caramel goo!) and crunchies, including sugary kids’ cereals.
Savor your swirls: Kermit’s Bake Shoppe, 2204 Washington Ave.
Peaches & Cream
Try this luscious seasonal flavor alone or twisted with creamy, milky fior di latte.
Savor your swirls: Alla Spina, 1410 Mount Vernon St.
Milkshakes to Make Your Mouth Water
Magpie Artisan Pies
This isn’t just pie-flavored milkshakes; it’s pie actually blended up with ice cream into a dizzying fusion of desserts. Expect chef-forward flavors like peanut butter and jam and blackberry custard pie from these baker artisans.
Sip it up: Magpie Artisan Pies, 1622 South St.
Wild Flavor Milkshakes
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
Sure, you’ve probably tasted your way through the rainbow of madcap flavors at Little Baby’s Ice Cream shops. But did you ever notice that they also serve milkshakes? Anything on their menu can be whizzed up with whole, soy, almond or coconut milk for a sippable experience.
Sip it up: Little Baby’s Ice Cream, 2311 Frankford Ave. and 4903 Catharine St.
Big Gay Ice Cream
The Philly outpost of this NYC shop features all kinds of decadent treats, including weird and wonderful soft-serve sundaes. But their milkshake game is equally strong, including this cool flavor based on the cinnamonic almond beverage.
Sip it up: Big Gay Ice Cream, 1351 South St.
I just went to the Franklin Fountain and asked for Paw Paw ice cream – the staff there had no idea what I was talking about. Any chance this was at a different ice cream shop?
We have a quote from Eric Berley, co-owner of the Franklin Fountain that August tends to be the season for Paw Paws locally, and that they would be seeking to churn out the flavor in small batches. It might still be too early in the season, or they may have decided not to do the flavor after we spoke with them.