NORTHDALE – After more than 20 years of serving up tasty treats, Tanya & Matt's Ice Creamiest, at 15742 N. Dale Mabry Highway, is an institution in Northdale. Founded in 1991 by then-newlyweds Matt and Tanya Walsh, the shop specializes in fresh homemade ice cream, created on-site and served to customers in waffle cones, cookie cones and even a waffle bowl.
And while Matt and Tanya are no longer married, the pair remain good friends and business partners – Tanya oversees Tanya & Matt's FroYo Fresh in Citrus Park – and the family-friendly shop remains a destination for ice cream connoisseurs throughout the area.
“We're the oldest store in this shopping center except for T.J. Maxx and Bealls,” said Matt Walsh. “At any given time, we have 45 flavors of ice cream, as well as ice cream sodas, shakes, sundaes, floats and banana splits.”
Customers can choose from basic flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or butter pecan, or they can stimulate their taste buds with such flavor treats as Mississippi mud pie, rocky road or peanut butter fudge. There are even exotic flavors for those with more adventurous tastes.
“We have coconut almond joy, kahlua, English toffee crunch and junk in the trunk, which is a peanut butter chocolate ice cream with cookie dough, among other unusual choices,” Walsh adds.
Kids especially enjoy finishing off their chosen treats with a wide variety of toppings, including hot fudge, caramel, marshmallow, sprinkles, nuts, Reese's peanut butter cups or gummy bears.
While T.J. Maxx and Bealls customers frequently stop in for a sandwich, slice of pizza, a cappuccino, espresso or an ice cream treat, even patrons of the nearby Crunch Gym stop by before or after their workouts for smoothies, which can be supplemented with protein powder, ginseng or weight gainer.
Most Matt & Tanya's Ice Creamiest customers come by to relax and savor their frozen treats, either inside the shop or enjoying the weather outside at one of the covered tables. On Thursdays through Sundays, live music, including appearances by local legend G.E. Sassani, provides added atmosphere to enhance customers' respite from the daily grind of life.
For the last seven years, Tanya & Matt's Ice Creamiest has been doing full wedding catering, and Matt has built a reputation for creating intricate ice sculptures.
“I do the ice carvings out front, usually on Thursdays around 8 p.m., and people like to watch. I recently did a couple of liquor luges for Gasparilla, including one shaped like a ship's bowsprit and another with a pirate ship etched on the side,” Walsh says.
The shop can be reached at (813) 963-2766.