Vikki: Bent Spoon, Princeton: This is the ice cream shop to head to when you are looking for something unique and hand made. When I was there, there were two flavors with beer in them and bacon ice cream has been known to appear from time to time. My favorite flavor is the lemon-mint sorbet, which is tart and refreshing. The strawberry marscapone was creamy and rich and had true strawberry flavor and the lavender marscapone is equally delicious, with its lovely herbal flavor that is somehow relaxing as well as delicious!
Halo Farms, Princeton: Halo Farms is another favorite ice cream shop in Princeton. They are very reasonably priced and have lots of yummy flavors, my favorites being Heath Bar coffee and strawberry chocolate chip. The coffee is also excellent and a great buy because in the mornings they give a free pastry with coffee!
Thomas Sweet, Princeton, New Brunswick & Montgomery: Thomas Sweet is the sweet, creamy delicious stuff of legends. Established 30 years ago, they are still making most of their own ice cream with a single machine in the back of the Princeton store. The other shops are supplied by Arctic Ice Cream in Ewing, which makes ice cream to Thomas Sweet specifications. My favorite flavors are chocolate-covered strawberry, peach and cookies and cream. They are known for their blend-ins, which is a concoction of ice cream and a topping blended together almost like a milkshake.
I Scream, You Scream: Bordentown: This old-fashioned ice cream parlor in a former bank. The ice cream is yummy (try the coffee chocolate flavor), but the Italian ices are amazing-best I’ve ever had! They are well-flavored and what has got me hooked is the fluffy, smooth texture, not gritty or icy at all. Much better than the chain store type of ices.
John and Lisa: If you’ve spent any time in Toms River, you have most likely heard of (as well as eaten at) Rich’s Ice Cream. Starting out as a Carvel stand way back in the 1950′s, Rich’s is now well-known for its own homemade soft serve ice cream as well as other treats such as their Richie Bar (an ice cream sandwich, covered in chocolate, and served on a stick). Winter is very much in the rear-view mirror when Rich’s opens its little ice cream stand that’s mixed in with all the fast food chains and car dealerships along Route 37 as you zoom through Toms River on your way towards the Seaside Heights bridge. One thing that Rich’s is well-known for is its flurries. If you’re familiar with Thomas Sweet’s in New Brunswick, a flurry is a very familiar concept. Just take some creamy ice cream, any “mix-ins” you can think of (Take 5 bars, cone pieces, and chocolate “crunchies” come to mind) and a blender, and put the spurs to it. Et viola! Heaven in a cup.
Terry: On the border of Totowa and Paterson, Gelotti offers a wide variety of homemade ice cream, including some of the best pistachio and cherry vanilla around. But the real draw for me is the luscious gelato, almost as good as in Italy. On a recent occasion, I licked my way through the dark, creamy, crunchy Espresso Chip gelato, while my husband enjoyed a double cone, piled high withFrozen Hot Chocolate and Rum Raisin ice creams. Gelotti’s Rum Raisin is made with premium vanilla infused with fat, rum-flavored raisins. The Frozen Hot Chocolate is new to their menu and it’s very popular. Vanilla ice cream swirled with hot chocolate mix – it’s like one of the best parts of winter suddenly showing up in summer! Gelotti has two locations – Totowa and Caldwell. The Totowa location is on the site of the old Boonstra Dairy. In the 50s and 60s, Boonstra sold homemade ice cream and real buttermilk, so thick you could get one of those “Got Milk?” mustaches! Gelotti, 2 Union Avenue, Totowa or 194 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell. www.gelottiicecream.com
The Towne Scoop,Verona: Decked out in Verona’s colors of maroon and white, The Towne Scoop is all about hometown pride. Its super-close proximity to Verona Park makes it the perfect last stop before a stroll around the lake (although you might just finish your ice cream before you make it to the park!). Park Place, just around the corner from Lakeside Deli 973-85-SCOOP. Check them out at thetownescoop.com. Or click here to like them on Facebook!
Ice Cream Charlie’s, Rutherford: When you’re an independent ice cream shop right down the block from a Dairy Queen, you have to rock in order to stick around. And Ice Cream Charlie’s does indeed rock. All due respect to the mighty DQ Blizzard, Ice Cream Charlie’s will forever be my go-to ice cream place when I’m in Rutherford. They have indoor seating and offer a great range of flavors as well as cakes, shakes, and sorbet. 200 Park Ave. 201-939-8133 Cash only
Amanda Marie: Dairy Swirl, Vernon: When it comes to the best ice cream in Sussex county, the answer would have to Dairy Swirl. The pleasure in a visit to Dairy Swirl is not just in the ice cream, but also in the charm. When stopping by, you will probably be greeted by Roman, the owner of Dairy Swirl and you will feel like you are part of the family in no time. Upon going inside, the interior reflects the feel of retro soda and ice cream shop, with a menu to match complete with egg creams, floats, and milkshakes. And with 32 flavors of ice cream, all made on the premise, along with 12 flavors of Italian ice, you are sure to find plenty of sweets to satisfy any person’s palate. All the classic flavors, such as mint chocolate chip and cookies n’ cream, are there, but they also boast some one-of-a-kind flavors, like Brownie Batter and Coconut Chocolate Almond. They also feature frozen yogurt, traditional soft serve, as well as sugar-free and fat-free alternatives. You can’t help but notice the cases filled with creative frozen novelty treats, ice cream cakes and pies, as well. My personal favorites are the Monsters Cupcakes, made of cake, ice cream and icing; it’s like an ice cream cupcake! And of course, when visiting an ice cream shop, you want to be enjoying some really good ice cream. Dairy Swirl does not disappoint! Quality ingredients come together to make a pure, creamy ice cream that everyone will be sure to love! Dairy Swirl
Anne and Wayne: Four Brothers, Englishtown: A short ten minute drive into the village of Englishtown would allow me to indulge a carb craving that’s been a distraction to me all morning. I knew there was an incredibly decadent homemade ice cream with name on it, at Four Brothers Ice Cream, 3 Tennent Avenue/County Road 522!
This place has been a local dig for as long as I can remember, changing hands in former years from Jack Frost Ice Cream to Four Brothers, aptly named since the owners Pete Becker and his lovely wife, have four sons. When the business was purchased, Jack Frost requested that a few of their most requested ‘recipes’ be protected from extinction. One of their special blends is the ever popular Chocolate Nut Surprise. Any menu item with the word S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E in it totally gets my attention, and my order! In a time when just about everything is predictable…what’s not to love about a surprise?
After a few minutes, Emily Morgan returned to the window with my order, and explained why the Chocolate Nut Surprise was so unique…each and every day there is a surprise ingredient blended into the super dense and creamy chocolate base, already laced with copious amount of dark chocolate chunks, walnut halves, pecans and peanuts. (OK, so this is definitely not Low Cal!) Lucky for me, today’s surprise was one of my favorite chocolate compliments, streaks of gooey marshmallow.
Melissa: Tommy Two-Scoops, Jersey City: Nestled in the quiet Paulus Hook neighborhood of Jersey City lies the newly opened Tommy Two-Scoops, a gelato (and more!) shop featuring home-made gelato made right on the premises. While not technically ice cream, Tommy’s gelato is made from milk, not cream, and yields healthier results. With classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough and coffee, also comes fruity selections like pomegranate, forest berry and blood orange, and unique combinations like fire chocolate, parmesan olive oil, and bacon. Tommy’s always provides at least one questionable flavor, and on a recent visit, that one was Fire & Ice. Almost every patron walking through the door asked what exactly made up this flavor, and all were intrigued by the answer: a combination of mint and hot sauce (try it– it’s surprisingly delicious!). Pair your gelato by itself, in a cone, by the pint, or in a decadent shake, cookie sandwich, or brownie sundae. Tommy’s also has a full menu of appetizers, wraps and paninis, and has an outdoor summer Sunday b-b-q schedule lined up. Check them out at: www.tommy2scoops.com
Satis Gelateria, Jersey City: Another gelateria lines the streets of Paulus Hook in Jersey City, this one part of Satis Bistro, a BYO European-style cafe on Washington Street. Their gelateria is housed next door and also serves as a pastry and dessert shoppe with items like pineapple upside-down cheesecake and strawberry rhubarb crumble lining the menu. Some gelato flavor highlights include peanut putter & jelly, cannoli, German chocolate cake, Almond Joy, and Belgian dark chocolate, along with tried and true classics like vanilla (one of the best we’ve had!), chocolate and hazelnut. Take your gelato to-go or enjoy in their charming cafe-style seated area, along with a cappuccino or espresso. www.satisbistro.com
Beth: Summer conjures up memories of suntans, fireflys, and trips in the family wagon or SUV for a frozen treat after dinner. Lots of towns have a “go to” place for frozen treats. In Maple Shade, New Jersey, that place is the Maple Shade Custard Stand (a/k/a the “Drive In.”). On warm summer nights, the crowds fill the parking lot and line up for their delectable dessert of choice. The custard stand keeps it simple:vanilla, chocolate or a twist. You can get a sundae or a cone. If you are feeling adventurous, you can get your cone dipped in chocolate. Simple and non-fussy, but it has worked for several generations of Burlington County residents. The prices are reasonable and the servings are generous. What more could a Jersey Girl (or guy) ask for?
Deanna: South Street Creamery, Morristown: Can I tell you how much I love the South Street Creamery without sounding like a total sap? No, I guess not. Well, short of penning a sonnet (Shall I patronize thee on a summer’s day?), I will enumerate the delights of this wonderful family-run eatery as best I can. A bright, spacious, friendly café that offers a delicious lunch menu, espresso drinks, gourmet coffee, baked goods, and fresh fudge as well as frozen treats, the Creamery is a true hot spot in town that draws families, theater-goers, and singletons alike. The homemade ice cream offerings are extensive – at least 20 flavors on any given day, ranging from standard faves like mocha almond fudge and chunky chocolate chip to sugar-free options and in-house creations like Cinnamon Bun, Lucky Charms, and Jockey Hollow (vanilla malt base with peanut butter swirl and chocolate-covered pretzels). A rainbow of candies, nuts, and sauces can be mixed in on their marble slab, or you can opt for straight sprinkles or a chocolate dip. Milkshakes, soft-serve, and frozen yogurt are also available, and their hand-crafted gelato is the real deal (the owners went to Italy to learn how to make it). Sample the violet, made by steeping flower petals into the gelato base, for a unique taste treat. The ice cream is flavorful and rich, without being too heavy, and kid-size scoops, always a welcome offering for parents, are available.Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, and on those days, the Creamery is the place to be!