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Get the Scoop!

Take a Tour of the Area’s Most Beloved Ice Cream Shops

Nothing says “lazy days of summer” like ice cream.

Taking that first lick of ice cream can instantly transport us back to our childhood, whether it be an early memory of rescuing a dripping scoop from landing onto a hot pool deck or the sweet sensation felt when sharing a cone with a teenage love. We ate it after winning awards, dove into it after failing a test and savored it before bed on balmy summer nights on the front porch, watching the fireflies twinkle. 

Although the flavors presented today can seem novel, there’s truly nothing new. “When you look at recipes of early chefs who worked for the nobility, you’ll see avocado, lavender, chocolate—which was exotic then—and pinecone. Fast-forward to 21stcentury artisanal ice cream shops, and they are making the same things,” says Laura Weiss, author of Ice Cream: A Global History. “Ice cream is a blank culinary palate: It’s cream, sugar and maybe eggs. You can apply to that pretty much any flavoring you want—savory, sweet it doesn’t matter.”

But the main ingredient is love. 

When Chuck and Amy Hendershot heard that Penguin Ice Cream in Bernardsville was up for sale two years ago, they acted fast. The Bernardsville natives—they met in kindergarten at Bedwell Elementary—and parents to eight children knew that the shop was a place where memories were born. “It’s a cornerstone. We want to keep places like that in our sweet town,” says Amy, whose children range from 6-year-old twins to a 23-year-old, who all contribute to the family business in some way, from working in the store to helping with flavor ideas. 

Outside the shop, customers will find bench seats, sidewalk chalk for artists old and young, a water bowl for the pups, fresh flowers for the view and sometimes a surprise visit from Scoop, the Penguin mascot. Kids are welcome and encouraged to hang their drawings and poems or writings in the windows to show off their proud work. The Hendershots welcome noise, laughter and a fun vibe in their store. It is a place where all people—kids and families, veterans and nuns, volunteers and professionals—are welcomed to make memories. 

The couple sources cream from local farms and makes the ice cream and Italian ice fresh daily, adding fruits and candies while maintaining freshness without preservatives. They serve up 45 rotating flavors—with new ones all the time—and are game to take customers’ suggestions. They use the freshest soft serve products and richest cream fats to improve flavors from the base. “We make everything fresh and natural so that it is as clean as possible,” she says. “For example, the blueberry ice cream is cream-based with blueberries without preservatives.” Expect everything from ice cream sandwiches to flying saucers, Flurris (ice cream with toppings mixed in), edible cookie dough and even dog bones for the pups. A new arrival is their “Six Pack”: six packs of ice cream in cupcake container cups. One of their biggest-sellers is Brookie Dough (cookie dough and brownie bites with chocolate ribbon in a sweet cream base), which was named after their daughter, Brooke, by her sister, Molly. 

Penguin has created a flavor in honor of the publication of the August issue of Somerset Hills City Lifestyle. “We named it ‘Crème de la Crème’ because the magazine showcases the very best of our local area,” she says. “The flavor—a crème brûlée ice cream featuring a sweet cream base with Bavarian cream and burnt sugar crunch—was created by our employee, Mariel. It is the cream of the crop and will satisfy the most discerning ice cream lover.”

The main event is the competition over who can eat Penguin’s ginormous Antarctica Sundae the fastest. A chart on the wall tracks who is winning. (At press time it is the Ridge High School Girls Lacrosse Team at 2 minutes, 14 seconds.)

Following is a roadmap for some of the area’s other beloved locations. This list is just a taste—pardon the pun—of what our county has to offer, so we encourage you to explore and make your own discoveries! 

Ava’s Homemade Ice Cream, Basking Ridge: Ava’s is truly a family affair—the parents develop the flavors and make the ice cream and the kids work at the shop. Our favorite: Goodness Gracious, which is named after Grace Eline, a local child who was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer. When you order this dish with Grace’s favorite flavors—chocolate ice cream with caramel and marshmallow swirls and chocolate chunks—Ava’s donates the proceeds to the WITH Grace Initiative, a charity dedicated to support pediatric cancer research, advocacy and direct care to those in the fight.

Beenie’s Ice Cream, Morristown: Beenie’s—named after the family dog—is a true labor of love for Tony Franco and wife, Andrea, whose first dates were spent buying store supplies, painting the walls of the shop and testing recipes. Now, they make ice cream together daily, inventing delicious flavors such as Minecraft (caramel Oreo ice cream with chocolate cake crunchies, green butter cream and red sprinkles for Redstone).

Frozen Falls, Basking Ridge: Although not ice cream, we had to give a nod to Frozen Falls, which has been serving frozen yogurt to the community since 2012 in the Dewy Meadow Shopping Center. With the wide selection of toppings offered by this family-run shop, your bowl can become an artistic palette.

Gabriel’s Fountain Kitchen & Creamery, Martinsville: This go-to spot owned by Bridgewater resident Alex Alb creates artisan ice cream onsite with all-natural flavors, organic extracts, mostly house-made mix-in’s and plant-based coloring from natural sources to create unique flavors like the spicy-meets-sweet Aztec Chocolate Churro made with homemade churros, Chimney Rock Road, Martinsville Mudslide and the Salted Cilantro Lime Margarita.

Mendham Creamery, Mendham: Rosie and Rob D’Urso serve up a rainbow of flavors at their ice cream parlor. Perhaps you also might have seen their ice cream bike, which can be rented for private events.

South Street Creamery, Morristown: This family-owned shop has been scooping homemade ice cream for the community since 1999, with Madagascar bourbon vanilla and real Dutch chocolate topped with fresh fruits, candies, nuts and other natural ingredients.

Scream Truck: Ice cream reaches the app age with Scream Truck. Sign up to add your house to the Scream Truck route. You will receive a text when it will be in your neighborhood. Reply “Y” to request a stop, and you’ll receive a link to pre-order.

Taylor's Ice Cream Parlor, Chester: Choose from 48 flavors, including vegan choices, with intriguing names like Unicorn, Yoo-hoo, Smurf and Grasshopper.

Antarctica Sundae, Penguin Ice Cream

8 scoops of ice cream

8 toppings

A banana

Four brownies

Whipped cream

A cherry on top

  • Antarctica Sundae
  • Antarctica Sundae competition