Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Eight Best Frozen Treats in Pittsburgh

Our dining critic picks his favorite ice cream, ice pop, frozen custard, vegan delight and more.




photo by adam milliron
 

Ice Cream: Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream
There’s a running joke at the Pittsburgh Magazine office: Somebody mentions ice cream or dessert. People look at me. I say, “Go to Millie’s.” Everyone else says, “What a surprise you said that, Hal.” I’m smitten with the creamery’s signature flavors such as Chad’s vanilla and Vietnamese coffee and look forward to its seasonal offerings such as rhubarb sorbet and black-walnut molasses. The company also is changing the region’s food system by creating an ever-increasing demand for sustainable dairy products and a steady supply chain for local farmers, and we like that a lot, too.
Shadyside and Downtown; millieshomemade.com
 


photo by erin kelly
 

Vegan Frozen Delight: Greekfreez
Nearly a decade ago, Mike Smalis left the financial industry to take over The Greek Gourmet Marketplace, founded by his late mother, Despina, in Squirrel Hill. Last year, he learned that the cans of chickpeas he uses for his signature product, Peppi’s Greek Gourmet hummus, contain an unusual, but usable byproduct — viscous water, which Smalis now whips it into a meringue-like substance called aquafaba. It’s become the base for his habit-forming frozen dessert, Greekfreez. The airy, creamy and 100-percent vegan treat will have everyone, dairy-avoidant and otherwise, buzzing with delight.
Squirrel Hill, 2130 Murray Ave; 412/422-2998, facebook.com/the-greek-gourmet-marketplace


photo by hal b. klein
 

Ice Pop: Alquisiras Paleteria
Pittsburgh’s community of immigrants from Mexico is small — but the Escobar family, who moved to Pittsburgh from Delaware earlier this year, are set to change the city’s ice-pop game with Alquisiras Paleteria. Paletas come in two categories: paletas de aguas are water- or fruit-juice based, and paletas de crema are milk or nut-milk based. The small restaurant’s owners prepare a rainbow of both — there currently are 20 flavors, and they’re planning on scaling up to 50 over the next year. My favorites thus far are spicy-sweet mango con chile, comforting rice milk with cinnamon and peppy lime.
Beechview: 2056 Broadway Ave.; 412/343-0752, facebook.com/alquisiraspaleteriapittsburgh


photo by laura petrilla
 

Ice Cream Sandwich: Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches
Katie Heldstab and Christa Puskarich started selling their handcrafted ice cream sandwiches in 2013, first in a coffee shop, then in a bike-powered cart and now in more than 50 locations throughout the region. The duo handcrafts both the ice cream — pre-treating it with an enzyme to render it lactose-free — and the tasty cookies that form the sandwich. They use a good number of Pittsburgh-area growers including Paul Family Farms, Triple B Farms and Wigle Whiskey to add flavor to their confections. Combinations such as raspberry snickerdoodle, rhubarb with brown-sugar shortbread and blueberry with oatmeal lace cookies are enticing options.
Various locations; leonaspgh.com
 


photos by hal b. klein
 

Nostalgia: Page Dairy Mart
Generations of Pittsburghers have their favorite order at the South Side frozen treat stand, which the Page family opened in 1951 on land they’ve owned since the 1800s. When I posted an Instagram story highlighting a recent visit there, the DMs flooded in with people expressing their favorites. “Peanut Crunch is life,” one friend said. “It’s all about a simple chocolate/vanilla twist,” said another (I agree). “Get a dip,” a third suggested. It’s restorative in a fast-moving, frenzied world to pause for a timeless experience, and a trip to Page Dairy Mart provides just the right relief.
South Side: 4600 E. Carson St.; 412/431-0600, pagedairymart.net
 


 

Frozen Custard: Hank’s Frozen Custard & Mexican Food
Frozen custard is as pliant as soft-serve but provides a significantly denser and creamier mouthfeel because of the added egg yolks. Hank Grosshans opened his Beaver County frozen custard stand in 1948, and, about a decade later, added a small Mexican food menu (I did the cafeteria-style hard-shell tacos). The Grosshans family no longer owns the New Brighton shop (relatives run a separate business with the same name in Conneaut Lake), but the roadside stand, rebuilt in 2001, still is a draw for its delicious frozen custards. Classic vanilla is my choice here.
New Brighton: 2210 3rd Ave.; 724/847-4265, go2hanks.com
 


photo courtesy hidden harbor
 

Frozen Cocktail: Josie’s Faraway Vacation at Hidden Harbor
Among the drinks listed on the establishments top-flight tiki menu at Hidden Harbor in Squirrel Hill is the most transportive frozen cocktail in Pittsburgh. Josie’s Faraway Vacation is a smooth blend of arrack (a distilled spirit similar to rum), Jamaican rum, curacao, lime, basil, chili, mint, ginger and coconut, plus a measured portion of water to ensure proper texture and dilution. It’s a refreshing blend of sweet, smooth, spicy and citrus that makes for a chill thrill of a treat. (It’s also potent, so be sure to pace yourself.)
Squirrel Hill: 1708 Shady Ave.; 412/422-5040, hiddenharborpgh.com
 


photo by david kelly
 

Ice Ball: Gus and Yia Yia's Ice Ball Cart
North Side residents first enjoyed flavored ice balls in 1934, when George Kalaris started shaving blocks of ice and his son, Gus, worked with him, taking over the stand when his father passed away in 1951. The secret to the refreshing frozen treat is the irregular shards produced by rapidly hand-shaving crystal clean ice blocks; some of the chips melt quickly, helping the custom syrups infuse into the ice ball, while larger chunks of ice retain their solid state to provide a refreshing crunch.
North Side: 638 W. Ohio St.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2018 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished judges in the field.

Nursing Shortage in Pittsburgh Calls for Creative Solutions

RetuRN to Practice entices retired nurses back Into the field.

Fine Art Meets High Fashion at the Carnegie International

With the Carnegie International as the backdrop, we feature work by local fashion designer Elaine Healey, who has been morphing from luxury womenswear to a more “non-binary” style.

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Pittsburgh's Tomorrow – What We Need in the Future

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to what Pittsburgh can be –– and what we'd like to see change –– in the coming years.

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.