You can’t throw a wet walnut in Philly without hitting an artisanal ice cream maker these days. From classic scoops to Italian frozen yogurt to farm-sourced sorbet, the city has every frosty treat to satisfy a summer craving. In Philly, everyone truly screams for ice cream.
Weckerly’s Ice Cream
Jennifer and Andy Satinsky are Philadelphia’s reigning first couple of ice cream. In 2012 they started their company in West Philly, crafting small-batch ice cream with local milk, cream, eggs, herbs and fruit out of the Green Line Café and selling at farmers’ markets. Since then, they’ve shifted production to Kensington commissary and opened their first bricks-and-mortar shop on Fishtown’s white-hot intersection of Frankford and Girard. Inside the snug parlor, Andy and his crew scoop Jennifer’s seasonal creations like Meyer Lemon Bandit, Sorrel Honey Sorbet and Rosemary Chocolate Chip onto house-made waffle cones gently scented with cinnamon. The ice cream sandwiches are legend, too.
Flavor to Order: Scrappy Junk Cookie Dump, an accident-turned-fan favorite that involves vanilla or chocolate ice cream mixed with all the delicious trim from whatever sandwich cookies Jennifer is baking at the moment
Technically Bassetts was born in Salem, New Jersey—founder Lewis Dubois Bassett first started making ice cream in his backyard with a mule-powered churn—but became a brand forever tied to Philly when Bassett began selling his product at 5th and Market Street in 1885. Seven years later, he opened a shop in the Reading Terminal Market, which has been operating ever since.
Flavor to Order: Guatemalan Ripple, coffee ice cream with a fudge ripple
Brothers Ryan and Eric Berley and their charming colonial-inspired scoop shop kicked off Philly’s artisan ice cream craze back when debuted in Old City. On summer nights, long lines of families and tourists ripple out the door into the warm night, but the wait—half an hour isn’t uncommon in summer—is worth it for the house-made seasonal flavors like fresh peach, luscious maple-walnut and honeycomb, which is sweetened with booty from the Fountain’s rooftop hives. They’re piled into dramatic sundaes with silly names (Stock Market Crunch, Tarzan of the Apes) and house-made, from-scratch toppings.
Flavor to Order: Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
The Pop Shop
Just across the bridge in the charming town of Collingswood, New Jersey, the Pop Shop is a family favorite on Haddon Avenue, the main drag. It looks like a 1950s diner, with black-and-white checked floors, an aqua-and-bubblegum paint job and a proper chrome-plated counter where the fresh-faced staff scoops Hershey’s brand ice cream for milkshakes, malts, floats, sundaes and splits.
Flavor to Order: Vanilla Butterscotch
Big Gay Ice Cream
Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff changed the soft-serve game in New York back in 2013 by switching to a proprietary base made not with mystery milk and synthetics, but with rich dairy from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy upstate. You can taste the quality in the soft-serve dispensed at their Philly satellite (the first outside NY) just off Broad Street. Big Gay has a knack for introducing flavor in ways you don't expect: injecting dulce de leche directly into the soft serves (the Magic Shell-dipped Salty Pimp and Nilla Wafer-dusted Bea Arthur sundaes), for example, and lining waffle cones with skims of Nutella (the Monday Sundae), speculoos and Awesomesauce, a literally-hot fudge situation spiced with cayenne.
Flavor to Order: Classic Vanilla
Stephanie and John Reitano fell in love with gelato while on vacation in Italy and upon their return, after much trial and error, opened Capogiro Gelato in then-nascent Midtown Village. Now with multiple locations, including East Passyunk, Rittenhouse and University City, Capogiro remains the gold standard for gelato not only in Philadelphia but in the country. Fruit flavors follow the seasons—Cara Cara Orange in December, Strawberry Sorbetto in June, etc.—and the dairy is local and grass-fed from Lancaster County.
Flavor to Order: Cioccolato Scuro (ultra-dark chocolate)
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
Started by a trio of musicians in 20TK, Little Baby’s grabbed the city’s attention with its anthropomorphic ice cream mascot, playful roving tricycles and flavors like Earl Grey Sriracha, Balsamic Banana and Speculoos. True to brand, their Fishtown ice cream parlor (connected to pizzeria/pizza museum, Pizza Brain) is trippy pastel 1980s music video fever dream, and the ice cream, made with local, organic milk and cream, is legit. Always several non-dairy flavors for vegans, too.
Flavor to Order: Birch Beer Vanilla
Located near Rittenhouse Square, Yogorino is an Italian chain of frozen yogurt shops that launched Philly as their first US location. The froyo fad may be long over, but Yogorino’s European version, which is less dense and less tart (but still not too sweet) than others’. The topping bar also strikes an Italian note—think less Cap’n Crunch, more puffed rice, amaretto cookies and nutty green pistachio drizzle.
Flavor to Order: Vanilla, with warm pistachio sauce