SOMERVILLE – On most nights, the crowd starts growing large at Summer Ville Homemade Ice Cream, Somerville’s newest ice cream parlor at 144 E. Main St., a bit after dinnertime.
Turns out, that’s when Elio DeFranco, Bridgewater resident and owner of the new hangout, is concocting his chilly creations, too.
“I love food, cooking and making things with my hands and I thought I could run this and keep my full time job as a computer testing manager, too,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work because I’m here many nights until 11 p.m., but eventually I would like this to be my full time job.”
Summer Ville, which has been serving about 200 to 300 people a night, has been pulling in quite more of a turnout than DeFranco expected when he opened on June 6 after about three years of planning.
“When we first started we had 18 flavors and now we have 36,” he said. “I used to make two batches of salted caramel at a time – now I’m making eight.”
Not that he’s complaining. DeFranco found himself eager to make a change in his life about three years ago and follow his life’s passion – food. Throughout that time since, he bought the building at 144 E. Main St., which had been empty for about 10 years, made plans for renovation, went through the borough’s planning board and perfected his recipes.
A renovation was certainly necessary for the nautical-themed ice cream parlor, donned with a menu made out of old wood from DeFranco’s home, surfboards and shark likenesses lining the walls and bright colors.
He chose that theme because he loves the beach and ultimately, hopes to open a few more ice cream shops and live down the shore.
As for now, though, DeFranco has high hopes for his Somerville location, which he chose due to its proximity to his home, but he now sees as a very promising area.
“I was either going to choose New Brunswick or Somerville, and now I’m glad that I chose Somerville. When I do have those late nights, I can be home and in bed in five minutes. Plus, it’s a very up-and-coming town,” he said.
Budding and eclectic Somerville is a great fit for equally inventive Summer Ville, which sports flavors such as earl grey with brown sugar and key lime pie with marshmallow. This month, the ice cream parlor has begun its new plan to put out three new flavors each month, which will be offered in limited quantities. For July, a cranberry with candied walnuts and a ginger bourbon with cranberry will be offered, among others.
So how does DeFranco come up with his imaginative flavors? Just a little trial and error.
“For the earl grey, I knew that I wanted a tea. I decided to steam the milk for three days and it tasted great but it didn’t look right,” he said. “Then, I found myself in ShopRite and I found a burnt sugar and tried it and it was perfect.”
Besides hard ice cream, all of which is homemade on the premises, the shop also offers soft serve, shakes and hurricanes, or McFlurry-like desserts.
When DeFranco was deciding on how he was going to set up his new ice cream shop, the idea to create a make-your-own frozen yogurt shop crossed his mind, but he quickly moved back to what he knew was the most classically known and loved – ice cream.
“I know that there has been a lot of yogurt shops but I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “When you’re a kid, you don’t ask to get yogurt, you ask to get ice cream.”