Puleo’s Dairy – Salem MA

10 08 2011

Give me a few hours to kill, and internet access and I’m bound to hop in the car and find the nearest unknown ice cream. After a morning DJing session at WMBR, I had nothing to do until late afternoon so all of the sudden I was pointed north toward a cone. After sitting in for a great sandwich, I finished with a Mocha Chip cone.

After working for a co-op in the early 1920s, Charlie Puleo got himself a Model T and opened his dairy business in 1928, delivering milk, butter, and ice cream to the denizens of the Salem area. In the ’40s, this roadside ice cream stand began, and a renovation in 1989 made it a year-round stop. Even more recently they’ve opened a parlor downtown just around the corner form the Peabody Essex Museum.

At night, this place must be easy to find as the large neon sign sits out by the street directing people to turn in… or if you’re driving north up 107 like I was, to look for a place to turn around so you can get here since the road is divided at this point. In reality this is no mere ice cream stand; it’s more like a Brigham’s or Friendly’s with an outdoor window for the evenings when the conjoined restaurant (Brother George’s) is closed. There are a pair of tables with umbrellas in front of the window, and then back behind the store is an area with wood painted to look like cows and a swing set for kids.

Sitting inside at the bar was a good place for a cone, since even away from the elements it started dripping on my fingers. I first started with a taste of the honey grapenut, but the honey didn’t seem pronounced and as is the case with most all grapenuts in ice cream, they don’t sell very quickly so the crunch turns into this oddly semi-solid barley mush. With no seasonal flavors to choose from, I decided upon the mocha chip.

All of the recipes used are from Charlie Puleo’s original recipes, so new fangled concepts are nowhere to be found here, with cookie dough being the most modern nod. While there aren’t a lot of things thrown into the ice cream, the focus is instead on flavor and this may be the boldest mocha I’ve ever had. Usually folks make mocha as a coffee ice cream with the slightest hint of chocolate in it, but this was a battle for taste from the first bite. A strong chocolate didn’t want to cede any territory, but coffee flavors still find a may to muscle in – thankfully there were nice chips in this mix to provide a great balance.

Lately I’ve been eating ice cream before food far too much. Maybe I’m thinking I can get by with ice cream as my entire meal, but after missing dinner and then breakfast, I realized a sandwich might be imperative before a cone. A great roast beef club sandwich was just what my body needed. Oh, and if you’re eating here, pass on the soda and get yourself a fresh chocolate milk. It’s at least as good as the ice cream.

Cone – child $2.75 small $3.40 large $4.25

Sundae – small $4.95 large $5.95

Frappe $5.25

Puleo’s Dairy

376 Highland Avenue, Salem, MA 01970-1744

978 744-6455

Open year round

Monday-Thursday & Saturday 7a-7p, Friday 7a-8p, Sunday 7a-3p, ice cream window open til 9p during Summer





One response

15 08 2011

I believe the Puleo’s on Washington St. in downtown Salem closed already. It seemed uninhabited every time I drove or walked by this summer.

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