At Commonwealth, a Million Different Ways to Get a ‘Happy Ending’

Chef Nookie Postal brings a sense of humor to Commonwealth's elaborate ice cream sundae dessert menu.


Commonwealth’s ‘Happy Ending’s consists of an oyster tray full of house-made ice cream, sauces, and confections. Photo by Kristi Senat

If chef/owner Steve “Nookie” Postal gets to express his seriousness about local, seasonal produce on his dinner menu—with farm-fresh salads filled with local cheese and heirloom root vegetables, and grilled Rhode Island squid with pickled fruit—then his house-made ice cream selections are where he’s able to get a bit more, ahem, creative (see: “Blow…And Make a Wish” ice cream with chopped up birthday cake; the “Kindergarten Cop” with peanut butter ice cream and house-made fluff.)

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Postal says. “Sometimes we even come up with a name first and then figure out what kind of ice cream would go well with it. We have a new one coming out called ‘Moms Gone Wild,’ that’ll have some sort of Cosmo theme. We don’t have to be as P.C. as someone like Ben & Jerry’s. We can say whatever we want because no one is going to sue us. At the same time, we get the best quality milk and cream, the best vanilla beans, and eggs. We do it right.”

Commonwealth has up to 20 ice cream flavors at all times (if you don’t see that many on the menu, simply ask for more options), each made with Mapleline Farm milk (a core ingredient for the pastries at Flour Bakery), free-range eggs from Siena Farms, and mix-ins like house-made Whatchamacallit candy bars. There’s also an extensive list of sauces and “Pair It Up” items like bacon almond praline brittle, banana chocolate chip bread pudding, and dulce de leche. All of these confections are made in house and can be mixed-or-matched in any combination. We did the math (or, at least, attempted to), and there are millions of potential flavor combinations here.

Diners can order to-go pints from Commonwealth’s gourmet market, and for larger parties, Postal has even introduced a tasting platter called “The Happy Ending, ” (pictured above) featuring up to eight types of ice cream and various accoutrements arranged on chilled oyster platters.

“If you want the ‘Happy Ending’ ice cream sampler, we can do that,” says Postal. “It’s a cool way to go. Someone came in the other day and told me, ‘I can get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for $5.’ Well of course you can, you idiot, but we have things like peanut butter and jelly ice cream and the ‘Naughty Girl Scout’ [ice cream combined with either Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, or Samoas]. A lot of places use bases or inferior products. We don’t do that. We don’t skimp on anything.”

A breakdown of the “Happy Ending” Featured Above:

  • 1. Chocolate Bourbon: Valrhona chocolate and Whistle Pig Straight Rye Whiskey.
  • 2. Java Chip: George Howell coffee and TCHO chocolate.
  • 3. Naughty Girl Scout 3.0: Peanut Butter Patties Girl Scout cookies with banana and Madagascar vanilla beans.
  • 4. Red-Headed Stepchild: Cream cheese frosting ice cream with chunks of red velvet cake. 
  • 5. Flower Child: Fresh lavender and Valrhona white chocolate.
  • 6. Mint Chocolate Chip: TCHO chocolate chunks and fresh mint.
  • 7. Cinnamon Honey: Saigon cinnamon from Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods and local honey from Sharon, MA.
  • 8. Rhymes with “Nickers Bar” ©: House-made Snickers bar.

*$5 per ice cream scoop or $50 for a “Happy Ending.” Commonwealth, Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, info: 617-945-7030,