By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.
Something’s been missing in the quaint downtowns of Valhalla and Chappaqua. Oh, they’ve each got their fair share of restaurants and shops. But what about a good, old-fashioned place where everyone can come together over something cool and sweet? Well, just in time for summer, two new ice cream parlors have opened their doors.
Take a stroll down Broadway in Valhalla, and you won’t miss a cute, little cream-colored house. It was the original library for the town of Mount Pleasant, but it’s been lovingly transformed into the Village Creamery & Sweet Shop. The guy behind the counter is John Caldarola, a long-time Valhalla resident. After twenty-years of fighting fires in White Plains, he thought he’d try his hand at something a bit cooler: homemade ice cream.
Caldarola loves to cook (especially breakfast), and knows his way around a kitchen thanks to his mom, and all those years making meals in the firehouse. Though now, “I make five or six flavors of ice cream a day,” says Caldarola, and he serves up nineteen varieties at all times. Each one is all natural, with no preservatives or food coloring. His crowning achievement: strawberry. And, indeed, it tastes like strawberries fresh from the farm; not too sweet, and ever so smooth and creamy. His wackiest concoction (to date) is cookie monster meets peanut butter cup. It’s vanilla ice cream with—are you ready?—chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, cookie dough, brownies, and peanut butter cups. Again, it’s surprisingly not too sweet nor overloaded with sugary nuggets. Caldarola says he doesn’t want to distract from what’s really important: “For me, it’s all about the ice cream.”
For his wife and business partner, Kristin Stone Caldarola, it’s all about the candy. Although the life-long Valhalla resident fully shares her husband’s passion, she’s the one behind the penny candy section of the shop. “I envision a place where kids can hang out eating ice cream and candy like they did in days past.” And she’s placed games, like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, on the counter to sweeten the shop’s hangout appeal. She soon hopes to begin offering party favors and gift baskets, as well as candy and ice cream bars at parties.
In Chappaqua, Hall of Scoops, formerly of Armonk, is making its new home on South Greeley Avenue, offering ice cream and frozen yogurt, row after row of nostalgia candy, and shelves packed with colorful toys and gifts. The shop’s sixteen flavors of ice cream (and a dairy-free sorbet) are produced locally and naturally by Longford’s of Port Chester. “I like to support Westchester companies, and they customize flavors,” says owner Lori Ceisler, who plans to give proceeds from certain flavors to charity.
She says the kids really dig into flavors like cookie monster. (Yes, it’s blue, loaded with chocolate chip cookies, and delicious.) They also love Oreo bomb, while their parents have a taste for salted caramel. The yogurts, by Dannon, contain live, active cultures, at least one variety is sugar-free, a few are gluten-free, and none are powder-based. Ceisler’s favorite treat at the end of a long day: a big waffle cone of strawberry shortcake, which is strawberry and graham cracker yogurt swirled together in creamy perfection. Coming soon: Chloe’s Soft Serve, already all the rage in Union Square and the Hamptons. It’s a “super clean product,” says Ceisler, containing just three ingredients: fruit, water, and organic sugar cane.
Ceisler lives in Armonk and used to spend her days as an interior designer. Now, she gets her creative juices flowing by serving up “pure fun” and planning parties in the shop’s sizable eating area. Ice cream and candy bring out the kid in us all, she says, and when you “think of Hall of Scoops, think of happy.”
Village Creamery & Sweet Shop, 32 Broadway, Valhalla
Hall of Scoops, 14 S. Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua