On a busy night, the line can last 45 minutes and wrap around the shop's building, which is the size of a large garden shed. There are only a few months out of the year when Page is closed — in the coldest months of fall and winter — but when the shop shuts down for the season, it feels like the end of something, and when it opens, it means that warmth is coming. And the shop is now open again, just in time for the start of a new Pittsburgh spring.
Page has dozens of flavors of soft serve, sundaes, Arctic Swirls, and even some savory snacks. While it all looks delicious, my heart and mind have tunnel vision for only one thing: the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae.
Page's ice cream itself is a delicious, silky-smooth soft serve, but the cookie sundae is made ethereal with the use of chocolate chip cookies from Nancy B's Bakery in Homestead. The cookies are huge and warm, with a thickness closer to a brownie. They're soft and chewy, and a little bit salty with the inclusion of peanut butter. When warmed up, paired with Page's vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge, something beautiful happens. There are other items on the menu I've tried, or wanted to try, like the cookie sundae's cousin, the Cinnamon Bun Sundae or Arctic Swirls of ice cream mixed with chocolate, candy, cereal, and more. But ultimately, I always come back to the cookie — in spring, summer, and fall, pandemic or no pandemic.
It does feel antithetical to all the staunch safety precautions I've taken over the past year to wait in a long line of people for ice cream. People from all walks of life go to Page Dairy Mart, and not all of them have the same dedication to mask-wearing. But if you don't feel comfortable waiting in the line now, rest easy knowing that Page Dairy Mart is celebrating its 70th birthday this year, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
The family business was founded in 1951 by Charles Alexander Page, whose son, Chuck Page, eventually took over the shop, where he still works, though it's now owned by his daughter Margie Page Prusia, according to TribLive. The little building sits under a bridge, wedged next to a used car dealership at the busy intersection of East Carson Street and Becks Run Road. It has a small parking lot that gets so full, customers invent spaces where there aren't any. In recent seasons, the shop added a second parking lot behind the original.
In normal times, a Page's sundae or cone can be enjoyed by standing around the parking lot or sitting on the hood of your car. Now though, it's better to do so from the inside of your car, without taking up valuable space outside. In either scenario, the people-watching is a perfect accompaniment to the ice cream eating. Not only do you get to see people who come from all across the city and region, but you get to see what they order. It's not uncommon, especially in normal times, to ask or be asked by total strangers what kind of ice cream you have. I always tell them that it's the cookie sundae and it's the best. In recent years, I've added a small cheeseburger or hot dog to my order, which, paired with the ice cream, are close to a perfect meal.
Page Dairy Mart. 4112 E. Carson St., South Side. pagedairymart.net