Aunt B's Ice Cream changed its reluctant owner to a cool fan
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Aunt B's Ice Cream changed its reluctant owner to a cool fan

Oct 09, 2023

Stacey Chiarolanza is warming up to ice cream.

Chiarolanza's ice cream shop, Aunt B's, has been a go-to neighborhood summer spot for years in Brigantine. It's not uncommon to find lines of people waiting for a cone or sundae. But Chiarolanza was not always in love with the idea of operating it.

"No interest in running a business at all," she recalls of the day her husband approached her with the idea of owning an ice cream shop. Aunt B's, owned by Bea and Joe Storino since 2001, had built up a reputation on the island. But they were ready to retire in 2016, and they asked their friends, the Chiarolanza's, if they were interested. Not so much.

"I was not interested at all," she remembers. "I did not want to run a business. I was going to go into teaching. So it took a bit of convincing for me to go for it."

Fast forward to the summer of 2023 and Chiarolanza could not be happier about Aunt B's and the joy it brings to young and old. Aunt B's is nothing fancy, but it runs by a formula of success.

"It's an old school, family style ice cream shop," she explains. " We don't go for anything trendy. We stick to the basics of what people, old and young, know and like. Just good old soft serve, hand-dipped ice cream, traditional type flavors and quality ingredients. If you're on a diet, Aunt B's is not the place to come."

That old-school approach means offering 28 flavors of hard ice cream, including vegan choices, 11 flavors of soft serve, plus eight varieties of water ice. And then there's the sundaes.

Their most popular sundae, the hot fudge brownie sundae, is the comfort dish of ice cream. They make their own brownies every day and serve four of them with vanilla soft serve, wet walnuts, and plenty of hot fudge, from the bottom to the top. And of course the requisite whipped cream and cherry. It's a sundae started by the original Aunt B and has maintained its position as a favorite. Why mess with perfection?

Chiarolanza describes their vanilla soft serve as one of the best, and the most popular flavor.

"It really is good. I've had soft serve at other places just to compare and ours is just really good."

Their most popular hand-dipped ice cream is the mint chocolate chip. You can find it served on a cone, cup or as a Nor'easter, their version of a blizzard. One, named after a local weatherman, is called the Nor'easter Nick, who hails from Hammonton and was the inspiration of the concoction of blueberry soft serve with blueberry topping and cheesecakes bites, all blended together. It has also become a popular treat.

And then there's the "secret" menu. Well, maybe secret is too strong a word, but there are sundae's not on the menu that the locals eat up. One of those is the CMP, a combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallow and peanut sundae.

"It's not on our regular menu, but if you know, you know."

She's always on the lookout for a sundae that celebrates a summer trend, which is when she put together the Upside Down sundae- "when Stranger Things was having its moment."

Chiarolanza is also blessed with a team of veteran Aunt B's that return every year to dip and scoop. Together they created the Brigantine Rainbow sundae which was inspired by the appearances of rainbows during COVID. It's a gelati-type treat with vanilla ice cream, water ice topped with cotton-candy syrup and sour rainbow strips on top, with whipped cream and a cherry.

"It's something kids like to get. It's very bright and colorful."

Chiarolanza's personal favorite is chocolate paradise concoction - chocolate soft-serve with a heavy coating of chocolate Jimmies and peanut crunch, topped with Reese's peanut butter sauce.

"It's amazing. It's so good. There's something about that combination. It has the bitterness of the chocolate and the chocolate jimmies, with the sweetness of the peanut brittle crunch."

And since Brigantine is famous, or is it infamous, for their greenhead flies, they appropriately created a sundae to honor the biting bugs which are rumored to be as big as small dogs with wings, with a nastier bite. Kidding aside, the Greenhead sundae has become a big hit at Aunt B's with mint chocolate chip ice cream, crumbled Oreos, hot fudge with whipped cream and a cherry.

For those who prefer plant-based ice cream, they have dairy-free sundaes like the Chubby Vegan – dairy-free vanilla ice cream with crushed Oreo cookies and Reese's peanut butter sauce, crushed peanuts and sliced banana.

Getting past her early reluctance to run an ice cream parlor, and now out of necessity, she's learning the ropes of running the shop, from knowing the best temperature for their freezers to repairing the soft serve machine to learning which toppings go best with which ice cream.

Of all the food and restaurant businesses to run, Chiarolanza believes ice cream is probably the least stressful with regard to maintaining and preparation of food because your product is frozen most of the time.

"But there's a lot to think about when things break and you want to make sure there's not ice cream melting everywhere," she says.

With lots of help and support from her family, Chiarolanza has become more comfortable in her role as the new Aunt B. She's discovered the joy of seeing her customers, young and old, light up after digging into her ice cream.

"We run it because we have families ourselves and we want to bring joy to your family. It's funny how things work out. I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I had to learn to love it, but I do love it now."

Aunt B's Ice Cream

3307 W. Brigantine Avenue

Brigantine, NJ

[email protected]


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Note: This story has been updated to correct a previous report of an official opening date.

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