Chill out!
The weirdest, tastiest, coolest treats this side of the Hudson
by Vanessa Cruz, Adriana Rambay Fernandez, Stephen LaMarca, Gennarose Pope, and E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writers
Jul 08, 2012 | 1355 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CRÈME DE LA CREMAS – The Pellegrino brothers offer a wide variety of refreshing artisan ice cream flavors, both Latino and traditional, at their Union City store Cremas.
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Have you had avocado flavored ice cream lately? How about an ale brewed with honey and lemon?

Ice cream isn’t just for kids anymore. Nor is coffee just for those morning pick-me-ups. Nor is beer just for a night out with your buddies.

In the middle of a massive heatwave, we looked around for the coolest desserts and potables for the most discriminating diners to enjoy.

Can’t stand the heat? Can’t stand clichés? We don’t blame you. So without further ado, take a break and go chill with some of the most unusual cold desserts and drinks in our area.


Hoboken: Cantaloupe ice cream and banana coffee

Hoboken’s got a bevy of unusual refreshments on a hot day.

For dessert, look no further than Applegate Farms at 1401 Hudson St. The shop is one of the more traditional ice cream locales and offers ice cream, soft serve, hard serve, frozen yogurt, Italian ice, and more. Flavors run from black forest crunch and cake batter to cantaloupe to vanilla peanut butter ice cream; however, the store’s best offer during the hot summer days may be its fantastic mint chocolate chip.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better way to enjoy a tall beer during warm weather than the patio at the Pilsener Haus & Biergarten at 1422 Grand St. The patio features a wait staff and is filled with accommodating tables and umbrellas and often features live music. For those in need of escape of the hot summer weather, the biergarten also has a massive indoor area.

Also notable is Cork City at 3rd and Bloomfield Streets. The low-key yet welcoming bar boasts 147 beers from 66 breweries, with 54 different beer styles. The bar also has 26 beers on tap, including delicious summer beers such as Victory Brewing Company’s Summer Love Ale, Ithaca Beer’s Flower Power, and Cisco’s Whale’s Tale Pale Ale.

As iced coffee becomes more and more popular, more shops offer it. Try the Cool Beans truck near Pier A Park at First and Sinatra Drive. The truck, mainly present on weekends, offers exotic yet refreshing flavors such as “Dark Brazilian Santos” and “Columbian Supremo.” Other refreshing offers include iced tea, cookies, banana ice cream whips, and loads of toppings.

Also popular for their iced caffeinated beverages is Empire Coffee & Tea Co. at 338 Bloomfield St. Near Church Square Park, the location offers some of the most unique coffee flavors in town, such as the strange yet delicious banana flavored coffee. Although an unconventional option, the banana coffee is a go-to choice among staffers; its mild yet flavorful taste makes it a great summer choice.

Jersey City: Avocado ice cream, microbrews, wine bar

Among the highlights of living in Jersey City are the many street festivals, ethnic parades, and craft fairs that take place throughout the summer, leading residents – usually on foot – from one event to the next. But even the most dedicated revelers will need to find strategic spots to stop, take a breather, and stay cool.

Ice cream and gelato are two obvious summertime faves that can appeal to everyone in the family. Jersey City is blessed to have two terrific neighborhood shops – Torico at 20 Erie St. and Tommy 2 Scoops at 177 York – which sell homemade ice cream and gelato, respectively.

While we like to keep it simple and favor Torico’s chocolate and the coffee gelato at 2 Scoops, the more adventurous may spice it up a bit. Friends report that the avocado and rum raisin ice cream flavors at Torico are divine. Since Torico offers more than 60 flavors – all made by co-owner Peter Berrios – there’s lots to explore.

The folks over at Tommy 2 Scoops make their own gelato, a creamy, delicious treat that has become a community favorite in the Exchange area. One warning, however: Because the gelato is made in-house, only small portions are made each day. Late evening customers may find their favorite flavor sold out. So, when planning a visit to 2 scoops, try to get there early.

Keeping cool without the kids? Our beer-loving buddies swear by Barcade, the microbrewery at 163 Newark Ave., for its selection of seasonal beers. The restaurant, which also features 37 old school video games for those of us old enough to remember the original Tetris, is currently offering a tasty Brooklyn Summer Ale that will please the non-beer drinkers in your crew. The Tuxedo Imperial Stout was also tasty. A true beer lover’s dream, the selections of ales on tap changes each day, so be sure to check out Barcade’s website before stopping by if you’re in the mood for something specific.

Those who crave a different libation and want a more post-grad school atmosphere may want to check out City Vino at 35 Hudson Street. Despite the name, City Vino is a full service restaurant with an eclectic international menu. But as the name implies, wine is what they do best – and they do it without all the highbrow pomp and circumstance that can sometimes accompany wine bars. The wine menu here includes more than 200 wines for nearly every grape variety. In addition to wines by the glass and bottle, City Vino also offers eight wine flights for customers interested in broadening their understanding or taste. On days when there’s a bit of a breeze coming off the Hudson River, enjoy a glass of vino outdoors and enjoy the Manhattan skyline.

North Bergen: Caramel pretzel ice cream and more

At the corner entrance of Braddock Park, Bergenline Gelato offers up ice cream and gelato in unusual flavors. Some of the surprises for your taste buds include the gelatoes: Baci, red velvet, Zuppe Inglese, tartufo, and cannoli, and the ice creams: vanilla caramel pretzel, mint Oreo, cake batter.

On a recent visit, a couple was spotted having a lunch snack.

“Usually we get the Baci cake,” said Ana Deute. “That flavor you can’t really get anywhere else.”

Deute brought new comer John Dabney who loves the shop’s accessibility.

Also chowing down were Eliana Escobar, husband Joe Coz, and kids Cole and Zoey. They made short work of the strawberry gelato.

Ana Martell preferred the red velvet flavor.

“It’s soft and you feel the pieces of cake inside,” she said.

Sisters Brielle and Brittany Llano, who work at the shop, are partial to the Zuppe Inglese, which has Italian rum cake. The cannoli flavor is a top seller too.

Secaucus: In the bowl and on tap

There was a time when people used to ride a streetcar up and down Paterson Plank Road from Hoboken all the way to Trolley Park at the edge of the Hackensack River in Secaucus.

Along the way folks would find ways to cool off, especially during the summer heat. Today, the road is still lined with old and new places to get respite from the humidity.
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Today places old and new along Paterson Plank Road in Secaucus offer respite from the humidity and heat.
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These include Uncle D’s, which took over Mike’s Ice Cream in 2003. Owned by Kathy Shino, the store is located by Huber Street and offers ice cream, yogurt, and Italian ices. Local homemade ice cream favorites include Oreo; a new flavor this summer called Dusty Road, which is made of cake batter with crushed Oreos; and Cup Cake, vanilla ice cream with pieces of cake mixed in. Kids also enjoy the Italian ices like watermelon and chocolate.

Adults may want to venture a few doorways over to the historic Plank Road Inn, and not just to see former owner Mrs. Mosley’s ghost – who still haunts the place – but to have a frosty drink and sit down at the old tavern to take in a baseball game. The Rennie family has owned this historic establishment since 1993. Some local patrons enjoy Twisted Tea, a hard iced tea. On tap, the Inn offers a number of IPAs (India Pale Ales, a type of brew) including Long Trail Ale from Vermont, Boston-based Harpoon, Ithaca Apricot Wheat Ale, and Lienenkrugel’s Summer Shandy, which is brewed with honey with lemon flavor.

For a taste of Indian beer, mosey further down Paterson Plank Road where Mausam restaurant owners Sankalp and Trusha Trivedi have recently begun offering a happy hour that starts at noon. Visitors can sample a number of beers from India such as Kingfisher from Bangalore, Haywards 5000, and Godfather, which offers a crisp taste. Wine lovers can try a glass of Sula’s Savignon Blanc, a white wine from Nashik, an area of India near Mumbai.

It wouldn’t be summer if it didn’t include some frozen yogurt or “Froyo.” A number of places have recently sprung up in Secaucus including the Blue Pineapple, located on Plaza Center next to Bagel Buffet, which opened at the end of June. Owners John and Richard Donato felt the town needed a frozen dessert store that offered a cool, trendy atmosphere.

Get your “Froyo” fill with flavors like New York Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche, and Cable Car Chocolate, which is a dark chocolate frozen yogurt. Favorite flavors for visitors to this shop include Cookies n’ Cream, and Cake Batter. For sorbet, the Pomegranate Raspberry is at the top of the list. The location offers over 50 toppings, which includes brownie, gummy bear, and milk caramel turtles.

Union City: ‘Guanabana’ and artisan ice cream

Union City’s artisan ice cream shop Cremas came on the scene three seasons ago (they sometimes close during the coldest months). Locals have flocked to the store on Park Avenue and 43th Street to sample the homemade, exotic offerings and cool down in the shady outdoor seating area.

Co-owner and ice cream artist Mariano Pellegrino hails from Argentina, where “every block has an ice cream shop,” he said. Inspired by his childhood, Pellegrino brought his 48 homemade, traditional and uniquely Latin flavors to the States.

Some of Cremas’ more unique flavors include lulo (a tangy Colombian citrus fruit), guanabana (a South American creamy fruit known as Soursop), and mamey (otherwise known as Magnolia). More traditional tastes include the impossibly buttery whipped cream flavored Chantilly, cherry, coconut, and chocolate chip.

“It’s all about the butterfat,” he explained. His creations lie smack in the middle of gelato (around 6 percent butterfat) and industrial ice cream (around 14 percent).

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Pellegrino added. “It’s creamier than gelato and made in smaller batches, so we can really control the process. We actually squeeze the lemons for our lemon ice cream.”

Weehawken: Margaritas by the Manhattan skyline

Almost everyone loves an icy margarita on a hot day, but few have the opportunity to experience one on a beautiful outdoor terrace perched atop a 300-foot cliff overlooking the Manhattan skyline. This is the Charritos experience.

Located on Boulevard East and 48th Street, Charritos offers authentic Mexican food and drink with an authentic Jersey-side-of-the-Hudson view seen either from inside, behind the panoramic windows that line the east wall, or from the outdoor dining patio shaded by bright red umbrellas.

Obviously they’ve got an array of fruity margaritas. For those who prefer nonalcoholic refreshment, the restaurant has three refreshing and unique flavors of agua fresco (fresh water): tamarind, hibiscus flower, and the traditional horchata (a popular Mexican rice drink).

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