Pizza is one beloved thing, ice cream another. Putting them together doesn’t necessarily double the joy, but then again you’ll never know until you try.
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, pizza ice cream is here.
Raleigh’s Two Roosters Ice Cream has created a half-dozen new flavors dedicated to the carnival side of the North Carolina State Fair. There are tame ones, like funnel cake and cotton candy, stunners like fried apple dough, oddities like chicken and waffles with fried chicken skin, and corn on the cob and caramel.
And then there’s pizza ice cream, which has no easy category, except to say that it exists and tastes very much like pizza. It’s something Dr. Frankenstein might create, waxing nostalgic some afternoon over the birthday party where he got his first chemistry set.
Two Roosters opened as a mobile ice cream shop in 2014 and has since developed a cult-like following among ice cream lovers. It opened brick-and-mortar locations in North Raleigh and downtown in 2017 and 2018, and this year was named by USA Today’s 10Best series as one of America’s top 10 ice cream shops.
This is not Two Roosters’ first swing at getting pizza flavor in ice cream form. When the popular scoop shop opened its first brick-and-mortar location, it had pizza on the menu, owner Jared Plummer said. That batch was made by steeping pizza crusts in the ice cream base and adding tomato sauce and spices. The new version omits the crust, keeping the ice cream gluten-free, but has a backbone of roasty tomato sauce, and a heavy dose of oregano and garlic.
“I will simply say, it’s surprisingly not disgusting,” Plummer said. “But it is an acquired taste. Not for the faint of heart. Or I should say, faint of taste buds.”
Plummer said he’s most proud that they were simply able to bring the flavor to life, that a crazy idea nagged and clawed and remained fun enough to see it all the way through. He knows not many people are going to ask for waffle cones of pizza ice cream, but plenty of people are at least trusting them with a spoonful.
“It’s the flavor that no one buys but everyone samples,” Plummer said. “I’m proud that we could show people what we could do with ice cream, that we can push the boundaries.”
There was an idea, for a moment anyway, to serve the pizza flavor in a pizza crust cone, but even fantasies have their limits.
And fantasies often seem to be the theme of food at the state fair, a land of deep fried logic and endless wonder. Fair food is often a triumph of innovation, with taste and decency things that can sort themselves out. Some experiments work, some don’t. Some are pizza ice cream.
“The food at the fair is usually associated with fried food and being unhealthy and over the top,” Plummer said. “We wanted to create flavors that reminded us of walking around at the state fair.”