Little Baby’s Ice Cream shot sadness deep into the hearts of dessert fans when it announced the pending closure of all its scoop shops.
The local sweetsmakers known for viral marketing and wild flavors — think Earl Grey sriracha, everything bagel, and cricket (yep, the insect) — launched in Philadelphia in April 2011 with ice cream-by-tricycle, and then expanded with multiple storefronts, including some in Baltimore and D.C. All will close on Nov. 27, the owners said in a statement, calling it the “end of an era.”
The sad development comes just a year after Philly gelateria Capogiro announced it was shutting down — this after 16 years serving what National Geographic once called the best ice cream in the entire world.
With these iconic purveyors calling it quits, you can’t help but wonder if the local frozen treat scene is in trouble. It’s certainly a bummer that beloveds like Little Baby’s and Capo are no more. But you’ll be relieved to know that the city’s ice cream and gelato scene isn’t just surviving — it’s thriving.
Here’s a guide to where to get your fix, with a selection of truly excellent and innovative scoop shops, pop-ups, mobile makers and restaurants across Philadelphia.
9 W. Girard Ave., Fishtown
For rich, French-style custard, head to this Fishtown shop, which specializes in locally sourced scoops and seasonal ice cream sandwiches. Owners Jen and Andy Satinsky get their milk directly from the Camphill Village Dairy in Chester County, plus lots of ingredients like fresh herbs and juicy peaches from local farmers.
1928 E. Passyunk Ave., East Passyunk
Water ice maker Chris D’Emilio went from hawking his grandma’s sorbetto recipe from a freezer attached to his motorcycle to his own South Philly scoop and sandwich shop, which just rolled out a new soft serve-in-a-soft pretzel treat. Hello, beautiful.
Available for pickup at Herman’s Coffee, 1313 S. 3rd St., Pennsport
Boku Supper Club founder Ryan Fitzgerald has become Philly’s mad ice cream scientist, dropping pints of overloaded flavors with names like Banana Cannon Crunch Blaster and Flaming Pumpkin Face Smash at drop points and retailers around the city. Reading Terminal’s Flying Monkey Bakery makes his mix-ins, except when they’re junk food favorites like potato chips and Fruity Pebbles.
2413 Frankford Ave., Kensington
At this cute, colorful coworking cafe, chef-owner and master gelataia Melanie Diamond-Manlusoc makes six varieties of the best gelati and sorbetti you’ve ever tasted, with flavors like guava cinnamon, orange cardamom, and Filipino-inspired buko pandan in rotation.
1716 Chestnut St., Center City
Miss the dozens of gelato varieties at Capogiro? Gran Caffe is your new go-to, with Italian-style flavors from fior di latte to Nutella in its big, gleaming case.
45 N. 12th St., Market East
Philly’s longest-running ice cream concern has been going strong since 1861. Get a taste of history at their stand in Reading Terminal Market and at neighborhood stands and grocers’ freezers all over the city.
6616 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy
You can score Zsa’s scratch-made pints, cups, and cookie ice cream sandwiches at independent grocers, co-ops, and Whole Foods locations around Philly, or hit up their shop in Mt. Airy. They’re also a great source for non-dairy flavors (something Little Baby’s excelled at).
Available select Fridays at Circles+Squares, 2513 Tulip St., Kensington
It always made sense that you could go from ordering a pie at Pizza Brain to picking up pints at Little Baby’s Frankford Avenue flagship without stepping outside. Now, pop-up maker Lil Scoop is taking up the pairing at Detroit-style pizza spot Circles+Squares. Look for Starburst-flavored sherbet and pumpkin spice ice cream on Friday evenings.
116 Market St., Old City
The Berley brothers’ homage to Victorian-era ice cream parlors is still going strong with seasonal sundaes, milkshakes, and old-school flavors like teaberry gum and Hydrox cookie. Plus, you can now get fancy chocolate-dipped treats on a stick at their neighboring Franklin Ice Cream Bar.
Available at Rowhouse Grocery, 1713 McKean St., South Philly
Art director and designer Danni Sinisi runs a tasty side hustle with Little Mario’s Frozen Treats. Get a taste of her small-batch traditional and vegan flavors like dark chocolate brownie swirl and roasted strawberry exclusively at South Philly’s Rowhouse Grocery.
This startup maker debuted with pop-up ice cream parties over the summer and is currently crowdfunding to scale up production. Pre-order pints like Brown Sugar Brown Butter Brownie Jawn and White Coffee for pickup in December through the Indiegogo campaign.
1313 N. Lee St., Fishtown
Somehow, the silkily rich soft serve at the newly expanded Pizzeria Beddia — which comes in either sweet cream or espresso — is just as good as, if not better than, Joe Beddia’s nationally-renowned pies.
1300 South St., Hawthorne
This restaurant is mostly known for its juicy, char-coated skewered meats, but their sheeryakh — Afghani-style ice cream made with sweetened condensed milk and spiced with cardamom — is by far one of the best scoops in the city.
757 S. Front St., Queen Village
If a single serving of freshly spun gelato for dessert at this neighborhood trattoria isn’t enough for you, know there’s pints to take home, too. Flavors rotate, from classics like Meyer lemon sorbet to decadent vanilla with hazelnut butter and dark chocolate stracciatella.