In 1991, Philly’s own Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff told us that summertime is the “time to sit back and unwind,” and it’s fairly certain that they were cooling down with a lemon ice or a gelato when they penned those words. Read up on where to cool down in the City of Brotherly Love.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans
119 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
When John and Stephanie Reitano returned from vacationing in John’s native Italy, they realized that there was no gelato here in Philly. Taking matters into their own talented hands, they opened Capogiro (which translates loosely to “dizzy” or “giddy”). The place filled a need Philadelphians didn’t know they had and quickly became a local favorite, winning Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly award in 2003 and eventually growing to four shops in the area. Capogiro uses local, hormone-free milk (for the gelato) and local produce whenever possible, making fresh small batches every morning. Its daily flavors are listed on the website each day. Some not-to-be-missed flavors include pistachio Siciliano, from the very best pistachios from Sicily (don’t expect it to be that fake bright green color!); stracciatella, a creamy fior di latte with slivers of deep, dark chocolate; and refreshing lemon opal basil sorbetto.
Best Frozen Yogurt:
4321 Main St
Philadelphia, PA 19127
How can you not love a place called Whirled Peace? Take flavors like red velvet cake, white chocolate mousse and lychee, sprinkle on some funky toppings like Fruity Pebbles and chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds, and add in the friendliest staff, and more than the name will bring a smile to your face. This is a build-your-own frozen yogurt shop where you pay 50 cents an ounce for your own personal concoction. (It doesn’t sound like much until you let your four-year-old loose and she creates a three-pound masterpiece!) Whirled Peace makes for a delicious stop after dining in one of Manayunk’s great restaurants, but it also warrants a trip of its own. You can get some pretty awesome coffee and tea at Whirled Peace, too. And of course it’s fair trade! With a name like Whirled Peace, do you even have to ask?
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Best Water Ice:
John’s Water Ice
701 Christian St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
John’s Water Ice has been cooling off Philadelphians since 1945, and three generations later, the Cardullo family is still cranking out the icy goodness. In the summer of 2011, President Obama visited the tiny Bella Vista spot for a cool treat (his flavor choice was lemon). John’s ice is refreshing and it doesn’t taste fake, because it’s made from fresh fruit whenever possible (three cases of lemons are squeezed every day). There is a small, rotating selection of lemon, cherry, pineapple and chocolate, which is a small price to pay for, well, small prices. Throughout the summer, additional flavors are added, like cantaloupe and peach. But seriously, if you’re looking to cool down, John’s smooth, classic lemon is the way to go.
Best Ice Cream:
The Franklin Fountain
116 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Step back in time in the Berley brothers’ old-time ice cream saloon. You can cool off with drinks from days gone by, like 25 flavors of “phosphates” (sodas), floats, milkshakes and egg creams. Treat yourself to fun-sounding sundaes and splits like The Stock Market Crunch and Tarzan of the Apes, all made with the Fountain’s own ice cream and toppings. Everything here is made by hand, just ask the smiling brothers in lab coats and funny paper hats. Even the decadent hot fudge is created on-site, and the fluffy whipped cream is freshly whipped throughout the day. The prices may be a bit steep, but you can’t put a small price on this kind of authenticity and attention to detail. The shop is a veritable museum of bygone days; check out the daguerreotypes, memorabilia and old-school candies that give The Franklin Fountain its charm. And just like days of yore, The Fountain is cash only, so leave your crazy, space-aged credit/debit card at home.
Best Frozen Margarita:
Cantina los Caballitos
1651 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
If you prefer your summer refreshment to be of the alcoholic variety, grab a seat outside at Cantina los Caballitos and order a sweet, fruity margarita. Even better, order a frosty pitcher and share with some friends–along with the excellent (complimentary!) homemade chips and salsa. The traditional margarita is superb, with a lime-y, sweet and tangy taste. But for a change, try one of the unique signature flavors: prickly pear, blood orange, strawberry, passion fruit, mango, raspberry, pineapple, guava or melon. And if you’re going to sit outside, feel free to bring your best (canine) friend!
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Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.