My obsession with frozen treats got a giant boost when my brother decided to start his own ice cream company in Philadelphia last summer, Little Baby’s Ice Cream. I started seeking out and exploring allNew York had to offer in the frozen world. I also learned about the important distinction between American-style ice cream (higher in butterfat 14-16% and contains more air called overrun) and gelato (lower in butterfat 4-8%, and contains less air).
Ample Hills: Not only is it in my neighborhood but it happens to be one of the best places for ice creamin the city. I have tried most of their 24 flavors, all extremely creamy because they are made fromscratch on the premise. (He even pasteurizes his own milk!) My favorites are Black Cow Float, Peppermint Pattie, Cinnamon, Peanut Butter Cookie and Sweet Cream n Cookies. Everyone that works there is also uber friendly.
Van Leeuwen: This brother/sister/friend (I think it’s brother/brother/girlfriend) trio started out a few years with an ice cream truck, and now has expanded to three trucks and three scoop shops around the city. There flavors are surprisingly less sweet than most ice cream companies and lean towards the subtle and savory flavors. Standouts are Earl Grey, Strawberry and the sadly seasonal Pumpkin. Theyrecently started selling pints in NYC grocery stores.
Fort Defiance: A Fort Greene Park favorite. This started as a cart in front General Greene restaurant, then turned into a shack and now a full sized retro themed scoop shop in the back of the restaurant. It’sfamous for Salted Caramel and Mommy Vanilla.
Victory Garden: a new spot in the west village with something that few have tried before, goat-milk soft serve yogurt. Must try Chocolate Victory and Salted Caramel. They also serve Liddabits treats as toppings and sell other goat milk products. (warning- although low in lactose the soft serve may free-upsome things in your system)
Amorino: By far the best gelato I have had outside of Italy and better than some I have had there. A global gelato company with a location in Noumea (New Caledonia). Amorino is a must whenever I am in the Union Square area. It’s overwhelming in flavor choices. My favorites are Passion Fruit, Carmello al Burro Salato (salted caramel ice cream with crunchy caramel chips). Although one of the more expensive shops in the city, the taste is worth it and if you opt for a cone you can try 8 flavors arranged as petals of a flower. Also try a focaccina (gelato inside brioche).
Il Laboratorio del Gelato: Previous owner of Ciao Bella Gelato, Jon Snyder, started Il Laboratorio to focus on small batches and specialty flavors and is extremely successful at doing this. This large shop in the youthful neighborhood of lower east side has a plethora of flavors that change daily. I always try something new even with their strict two taste limit. When I go always hope they will have marcarpone, olive oil and tangerine. My best friends favorite combo is Fresh Mint and Earl Grey. They’ve even gotten shout-outs on the TV show Gossip Girl.
Stellina: Owned by the two sisters of behind Italian Restaurant Sorella, this small, cute, Lower East Side shop has flavor names that are tongue-in-cheek Italian translations. Try La Strada (aka Rocky Road) and Chunky Sorella ie Chucky Sister (fudge swirls and crushed chocolate pretzels in salted caramel gelato)
Other frozen treats to try
Soft Serve Fruit Co: An interesting concept for a dairy free, gluten free, fat free, vegan and kosher frozen soft serve. The base is made up mostly of smashed bananas, water and cane sugar . It’s a good treat on a hot day when you shouldn’t stray from your diet. The color of most flavors is unappealing and some flavors can get close to tasting like frozen baby food. Stay away from Pumpkin. Strawberry is by far the best. They have two locations in the city and one in the Hamptons.
Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls: New Orleans style snowballs served in chinese take-outs containers. With a multitude of flavors including “Nawlins” favorite Cream Ice Cream.
Popbar: the execution of an aesthetical pleasing and simple idea of putting gelato on a stick and selling it (also have sorbet flavors). Topping options include dipping in chocolate (dark, milk or white) and you can add different types of nuts, coconut, coffee grains, or chocolate sprinkles.
Peoples Pops: A fun group of people that show up at outdoor markets and street festivals throughout the summer all over NYC. They offer an array of local fresh frozen fruit on a stick and also great flavored shaved ice. Flavors include: Plum Organic Yogurt & Tarragon; Rhubarb Organic Cream & Cinnamon; and Blackberry & Jasmine.
Big Gay Ice Cream: Started as an soft serve ice cream truck in Union Square now has launched a shop in East Village. Although they serve generic soft serve ice cream, they have created some amazing toppings saba (Italian grape syrup), olive oil, toasted curried coconut, trix cereal, wasabi dust, pumkpin butter, sriracha, and many more. If you don’t know what to get try combinations that they have already figured out (like the Salty Pimp: Vanilla Ice Cream, Dulce de Leche, Sea Salt, and Chocolate Dip)
Stogo: Created in partnership with Malcom Stogo, author of “Incredible Ice Cream: Making it Your Way with Passion”. All flavors are organic and dairy-free and have coconut, soy, hemp, almond or fruit bases. Great for the lactose-intolerant folk.
Kelvins Natural Slush Co: A very refreshing frozen slush drink especially awesome on a blazing hot day. Base slush flavors are Spicy Ginger, Tangy Citrus, Green and Black Tea which you can add fruit purees (Acai, Apricot, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Blueberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Lychee, Mango, Papaya, Pink Guava, Pear, Raspberry, Strawberry, White Peach). Ginger base with a White Peach mix in is excellent.
Wooly’s Ice: The Taiwanese version of shaved ice (which is 90% water and includes sweet dairy) comes in two flavors green tea and original. One can add on fresh fruit, brownies, and cereals and a choice of syrups: strawberry, chocolate, or condensed milk. An excellent way to eat a frozen cloud.
Sky Ice: A thai take on ice cream with flavors including Thai Tea, Black Sesame Seaweed, Caramel Sea Salt, Cucumber Lime, Basil, Mango Sorbet, Green Apple Sorbet, Mangosteen, and Jasmine Brown Rice Sorbet. Also available are warm desserts, soups and curry noodle dishes.
Peels: One of my favorite restaurants for fried chicken brunches and celebrity spottings is also a great place to eat ice cream. Flavors change daily and seasonally and all go great with their house made pies. I recently enjoyed a Verbena scoop.
Yet to try
(I can’t wait for summer ice cream season to be 100% and planning another ice cream tour). Anyone wanna join? Follow me on twitter for more eating adventures @eatingntalking or my blog http://howcomeimnotfatyet.blogspot.com/
Momofuku Milk Bar: Love this dessert bar/bakery that has changed how the world sees desserts with their new cookbook but I have yet to taste one of their specialties, soft serve cereal milk. This means a milk that taste like cereal that is then served as soft serve.
La Newyorkina: Available on the High Line and other outdoor location theses Mexican fruit paletas (popsicles) look awesome.
Otto Gelato Cart (Washington Square Park): In hot months this Mario Batali’s gelato cart normally resides in Washington Square Park.
L’Arte Del Gelato: I have heard good things of this traditional Italian gelato company with two shop locations on the West Side.
Goat Town: This East Village restaurant has an ice cream cart in the summer that has gotten a lot of good press. I must try their salted caramel.
Ditchwich: Ice cream sandwiches being made from Marc Murphy of Ditch Plains. Made at Il Laboratorio del Gelato. I hope to check them out at Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer.
Parm: One of my favorites sandwich shops in NYC. This Italian eatery has a beautiful tri-flavored ice cream cake that I need to get my hands on!
Steve’s Ice Cream: They had a shop near Bryant Park last summer and their pints have been popping up everywhere. (Steve’s story is a lot more interesting than this. Want to tell it?)
Culture: An American Yogurt Company: Is supposed to be the best frozen yogurt in NYC and open all year round.