Penny Ice Creamery specializes in scratch-made ice cream using primarily locally sourced ingredients. They have locations in Aptos Village, Pleasure Point and downtown Santa Cruz (all open at noon every day). Soon, a fourth is set to open in Scotts Valley. The creative genius behind the ice cream is owner/chef Kendra Baker, who first opened shop in 2010. Manager Rahul Bhambhani was originally a customer who loved the ice cream; now, he’s a part of the operation. He has tried ice cream worldwide, but firmly believes that Penny’s is the best. He spoke to GT about its next-level cold treat.
What makes Penny’s ice cream so good?
RAHUL BHAMBHANI: The made-from-scratch process is one thing, and we have our own pasteurizer, which allows us to make our ice cream base completely from scratch, which is really unique. And the way that we spin our ice cream introduces less air than you typically find into the product, which leads to a creamy texture with a dense result. Our philosophy is to create an ice cream that has a hand-crafted feel and give our guests the experience of being as close to the source as possible.
What are some of the most popular flavors?
We have five classics: Tahitian vanilla bean, dark chocolate sorbet, fresh mint chip, bitter caramel, and our Verve Coffee with chocolate almond praline. We also strive to have a variety of seasonal rotating flavors as well; a current summer one is our blackberry sweet corn with real corn in the base, which creates an unusual texture that delights our guests. Part of our brand too is offering flavors that pique our guest’s interest and give them the opportunity to indulge their creative curiosity. In the past, we’ve had celery raisin, chili chocolate smoke, candied buddha hand and even a candy-cap mushroom ice cream.
Any non-ice cream standouts?
The dark chocolate sorbet is something Kendra has perfected over a decade. Even though it is vegan, it really surprises the guests because the texture is so smooth that they mistake it for dairy. And we always have one seasonal sorbet available. My personal favorite is the strawberry—it’s just incredible. We have novelties, including bonbons and Penny Pops, as well as a full espresso bar.
913 Cedar St., Santa Cruz; 820 41st Ave., Santa Cruz; 141 Aptos Village Way C2, Aptos, 831-204-2523; thepennyicecreamery.com.