In today's instalment of Scoops' out for Summer, we visit the "other" Alberta Street for a classic Portland scoop.
Roses Ice Cream
5011 NE 42nd Ave., 256-3333, rosesicecream.com.
Price per scoop: $2.75
Most popular flavor: “Licorice—well, besides vanilla.”
The person in front of me: Four seniors, one couple and two of the woman’s girlfriends.
Best for: Dessert on the way to the 99W Drive-in.
Northeast Portland might look very different if Alberta Street didn’t dead-end at 33rd Avenue. When Alberta picks back up 10 blocks to the east, it’s the same street in name alone.
Before the break, Bella Faccia Pizzeria does a vegan pie with a spread made from cashews instead of cheese. Just on the other side is Bob’s Rocket Pizza, owned by Bob Cassady for the last 40 years. Rocket offers 10 different types of meat and mysteriously lists canned mushrooms as a “premium topping.”
If, hypothetically, you were opening a faux artisan ice cream joint with the intention of bringing rusty buckets and salt-flavored cones to the vacant space next to Williams-Sonoma at The Nice Mall, you’d want to do it on the west side of Alberta.
If you wanted to make quality small-batch ice cream for Little Leaguers and working folk, you’d do it where Roses sits, at the corner of 42nd Avenue and Alberta.
Roses uses high-end and local ingredients that are impressive by any standard. The ice cream is 14 percent milkfat, making it “superpremium” but not lardy. Many flavors feature local berries, as they have since 1968 when the owners sent their kids out into the fields to handpick the supplies for the family business. Those kids must have enjoyed it, because they reopened Roses in 2007, after selling it and seeing it closed in the 1990s.
The strawberry sundae, made with slivers of local strawberries while available, and covered in fluffy whipped cream, nuts and a good old-fashioned maraschino cherry, is highly recommended.
Ice cream is the main draw, but Roses is a neighborhood place that also sells Sloppy Joes ($4.95) and beer ($3, Bud Light). The original building a few blocks away was razed, but you’d never know if from the faux marble counters made of pink formica and a magazine rack stocked with Woman’s Day and Country Living.
Roses was fairly empty both times I visited, once on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I suppose the drab decor might camouflage the charm for many in the gentrifying neighborhoods to the west. To get the good stuff, some people think you have to wait in a long line and tolerate childish flavor experiments that recall a toddler’s silly mixture of milk, Hawaiian Punch and lemon soda.
Roses proves otherwise with reasonable prices and without pretension.
This is the best ice cream you’ll find on either side of Alberta Street.
More Scoops' out for Summer
Day 2: Oregon Ice Works
Day 1: What's the Scoop?