July is National Ice Cream Month, no better time to visit a local drive-in, drawn in by the aromas, sights and sounds of the season; a place where passers-by can’t help but stop and neighbors can’t wait to gather, knowing that when the big bright umbrellas open over these picnic tables, spring is here and summer is coming !
While the Mohawk Valley could host an ice cream crawl with all the drive-ins and seasonal scoops it has, the historic village of Waterville takes the cream with a local dairy farmer who graduated from the Ice Cream School of the Penn State University then came home and took milk production to the next level by turning it into “homemade” ice cream.
Robert “Roc” Langone owned and operated Roc-Star Dairy for a quarter century before trading cows for cones and milk for cream when he opened his first ice cream shop in 2001. Roc- Star Ice Cream and Eatery has since pledged to use “the freshest ingredients” to “make the best ice cream and food.”
Roc-Star sits on a shallow hill beyond the Waterville Green where a colorful sign featuring a cartoon cow wearing pink shades and an engraved “Rocky” earring marks the spot. This simple roadside stand offers a peak of picnic tables while a funky, rock-a-dellic theme makes indoor dining as fun as the food. Long lines of locals patiently wait for a scoop or a summer supper, perhaps one of “Roc’s Famous Burgers”, fried chicken or their famous Friday Fish Fry, which they “serve until it’s gone”. be gone”.
Then there is the ice cream. Langone sells its signature “Roc-and-Rollwiches” year-round to school cafeterias, colleges, restaurants and retail stores. He and a small staff bake the chocolate chip cookies — and ice cream — from scratch. Langone shares that using less air to whip cream, then quickly freezing it to minus 40 degrees is the process that creates “decadent, premium ice cream.” Roc-Star is a churning legend.
You taste the burgers before your first bite when you catch that puff of grilled meat floating on a summer breeze. Upgrade the Broaster Chicken Sandwich with a few fresh slices of perfectly crispy bacon. Treat yourself to a milkshake and sip Roc’s homemade chocolate ice cream through a straw. Take that first taste of Baileys Irish Ice Cream and wonder if there should be a law against it. It really is so good.
But more than ice cream, burgers or fries, it’s the visit to this place in the middle of upstate farms and fields. A double date of elders discuss hot dogs while a young couple swings a toddler between them to pass the time online. Corn grows higher on the horizon as the sweet scent of hay fills the lazy air. The greatest treat of all might be the moment this dad bent down to give his daughter, no taller than two feet and no more than three years old, a little cone covered in rainbow sprinkles…looking his face burst in astonishment at the sight of him. as she rose to grab it. Whether this young family made a spontaneous stop on a Sunday car trip or drove up the road from home, they show up in what makes drive-ins so special.
Roc makes more than food and ice cream each season from late April to September, it creates memories. Like a glimpse of a little girl’s face as she crisscrosses it in those rainbow glitter made clear, it delivers on its promise that it’s a place where “everyone feels like a star.”
Roc-Star Ice Cream and Eatery is located at 268 Sanger Ave. in Waterville.
The restaurant’s opening hours are from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from April to September. Catering and ice cream are sold all year round.
Find and follow Roc-Star Ice Cream and Eatery on Facebook or at www.rocstarfoods.com