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The Sweet Taste of Summer

By June 14, 2012

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Gus & Yia Yia's serves up gourmet ice balls on the Pittsburgh North SideGus Kalaris and his wife, Stella (nicknamed Yia Yia, the Greek name for "grandmother"), have been serving up hand-shaved, gourmet ice balls from this bright orange cart with the rainbow-striped umbrella for as long as just about anyone can remember. The stand itself has been around since 1934, or "since your Dad was a lad" - first operated by Gus' father, George. Gus took over the family business when he was 18 years old and has run it with his father, mother and now his wife for 61 years. Both of Kalaris' two daughters and four grandchildren have also worked at the iceball cart at some point.

The prices haven't changed much either. Ice balls, depending on size, range in price from $1.00-$2.00, while hot popcorn is $1.50 and a bag of peanuts is just $1.25. The ice is hand-shaved and the syrups, from recipes perfected by George in the late 1930s, come in a rainbow of flavors - pineapple, cherry, lemon, lime, orange, banana, grape, blueberry, rootbeer and the popular Rainbow. The cart can be found each day from about 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., May through November, in its customary location next to the tennis courts in West Park on Pittsburgh's North Side.

While it's hard to beat the ice balls at Gus & Yia Yia's, you can also enjoy the sweet taste of summer at one of these other popular Pittsburgh area ice cream stands and shops. Do you have a favorite place that we've missed? Click on comments below and tell us about it!

June 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm
(1) Lynne says:

Just LOOOOOOOVE going to the NS to get one of those ice balls. It gives one a feeling of comfort….some great things “never” change.

June 30, 2011 at 10:34 pm
(2) Bcm says:

Enlow Station at the intersection of cliff mine and west allegheny in Imperial. It is next to Montour Trail and is a perfect place to stop with the family after a long bike ride. They have 50 flavors of soft serve, malts and shakes. They also serve some fast food items.

July 25, 2011 at 1:12 am
(3) Jennifer Russell says:

There is nothing better than re-living childhood memories. Pittsburgh is famous for our traditions!

August 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(4) tom m says:

The brain freeze. Oh yeah,but it’s worth it.

June 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm
(5) Joyce says:

I remember them from around 1940.

June 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm
(6) Rose says:

What about Tim Wu’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice?????

June 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm
(7) Rose says:

I grew up near West Park and Gus and YiaYia’s Iceballs. Of course, I took my kids there and then my grandkids. It’s a family tradition!

June 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm
(8) Gabby says:

I love ice balls my mom said its to sugary no its the best it brightens my day(:

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