Dave's Gourmet Paletas in Fairfield serves Mexican ice pops in time for the summer heat

Remember the simple childhood pleasure of biting into a frosty Popsicle after a day in the summer sun? Dave Rock is aiming to recapture that feeling with Dave’s Gourmet Paletas, a new dessert shop in Fairfield.

Rock was first exposed to paletas, or Mexican ice pops, when he was frequently visiting his now-wife in Miami, he said, and he thought the concept would work well in Connecticut. The pandemic spurred him to take the leap and make it happen, and he spent months doing research and building out the 750-square-foot space on Post Road. He opened the shop May 27, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“It was a little crazy, spending a lot of money...you’re going through a pandemic, and you see retail businesses closing,” Rock said. “[We] threw caution to the wind for sure.”

He hired a chef, Christina Victoria, to handle the culinary side of the business, and they spent four months testing recipes. “It was a lot of trial and error, but we’ve got 20 great flavors that we think really rock and roll,” he said.

The hand-crafted, preservative-free flavors range from classics like strawberry, chocolate and coconut to more exotic choices like mango chamoy, matcha, banana Nutella and passion fruit. Rock says a honey lavender flavor has been a big seller, as are peanut butter cup and strawberries and cream, which showcases embedded fresh fruit. His personal favorite is kiwi, and he says the coffee flavor is underrated.

From there, you can customize your paleta with more decadence. Once you’ve picked your flavor, you can have it dipped in chocolate (white or dark) and topped with garnishes: marshmallows, coconut, graham cracker, pretzels, Oreo, peanuts, sprinkles. Drizzles of caramel, butterscotch and Nutella are also available. Rock likes to top passion fruit paletas with Tajín chile-lime seasoning.

The Dave’s menu offers gluten-free and dairy-free paleta flavors, and Rock said they can also accommodate customers needing nut-free options, with a supply of pops stored separately from the main case. “There’s definitely something there for everybody, and we’re trying to accommodate everyone,” he said.

Rock said the menu will grow, with seasonal offerings, and chef Victoria is currently testing flavors like pineapple ginger and orange sorbet. Guests are already suggesting new flavors, he said.

Paletas start at $5.50, and dips and toppings are 50 cents apiece. The shop also sells Jarritos Mexican sodas.

Though the shop has been open just about a week, Rock says he already has regular customers.

“I’ve had people in here that have not missed a day,” he said. “They come in and they have two. They’re like groupies. They’re awesome. It’s really good for the store.”

Dave’s Gourmet Paletas is at 1492 Post Road in Fairfield. It’s open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, though those hours may expand this summer, Rock says. 203-292-3757, facebook.com/Davesgourmetpaletas.