The Big Scoop: The Best NYC Ice Cream [Summer 2015]
I had the great pleasure of wandering around the Brooklyn Flea's Ice Cream Bonanza on National Ice Cream Day, where some 14 frozen treat purveyors were serving smallish, sample-size cones and cups of their signature flavors. It was a exceptionally pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a hot afternoon, and it reminded me how many amazing ice cream parlors there are in neighborhoods all over the city, a few of which are mentioned below in my annual, high-summer "Best Ice Cream in NYC" roundup. And because I eat a bowl of the stuff every single night before I go to bed (highly recommended!), I also threw in a couple of my favorite store-bought pints. It's just the tip of the (delicious and creamy) iceberg, I know, but everything here is pretty much a must for true ice cream believers.
Ice and Vice, Lower East Side
I know I wrote about this recently, but really, Ice and Vice, the brand-new "experimental ice cream shop" on East Broadway and Clinton just gets better each time I go. I'm pretty addicted to the scoop of Three Little Pigs (salted caramel, bacon butter, bacon praline), scoop of Shade (smoked dark chocolate, caramelized white chocolate) combo, but everything I've tried is terrific, including the Basic B, which is by far the beast vanilla I've ever had in my life. Worth whatever trip you have to make to get here. Located at 221 East Broadway, open 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight Friday and Saturday.
Emack and Bolio's, Upper West and Upper East Sides
Most of the best new ice cream spots may be downtown, but the now-venerable, often-WAY-over-the-top Emack and Bolio's continues to satisfy on both the Upper West and Upper East Sides. The whole vibe here is college-/beach-town, so even if there are other, more sophisticated places in the city to get your frozen dessert fix, there's a certain pleasure in treating a treat like a treat. The Mud Pie (coffee, chocolate chips, Oreos); Chunk O' Funk (caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels, Oreos (yes again)); and Stoney's Dream (vanilla, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, fudge swirl) are my go-to cones here, but everything works as full-on sugar-bomb dessert. On Amsterdam between 78th and 79th Streets; on 81st Street and First Avenue.
MilkMade Tasting Room, Carroll Gardens
Again, a repeat of a recent post, but MilkMade had a stand at the Ice Cream Bonanza and my scoop of Rock Rock Rockaway Road (owner and ice cream genius Diana Hardeman like names like that), was the best thing I ate all day, its marzipan base thick with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Everyone should eat a lot of this, but because Hardeman switches up her varieties so often at her tiny Sackett Street shop, the best (and most fun) plan is just to get the five-flavor flight, on five different flavor cones from the great Konery. Note: there's very limited seating, and it's a bit of a hike from the F/G train, so not ideal for a big crowd or little kids and no stroller. Excellent date or food adventure idea though. Located at 204 Sackett Street just west of Henry.
Amorino Gelato, Greenwich Village and Chelsea
Impossibly creamy and intensely flavored (and insanely popular throughout Europe), Amorino Gelato gets the nod among all of city's fancier ice cream parlors, both for the ice cream itself and the presentation: you can choose up to five flavors per cone, and the assembled scoops look like a flower! I've never had a flavor I didn't love here, though Dulce de Leche, Speculoos, Stracciatella and the chocolate-hazelnut (basically Nutella) "Inimitabile" seem to make it into my order more often than not. Bonus when we get back to wintertime: the 60 University Place original location (at 10th Street) has a working fireplace! Not sure about the newer location at 162 8th Avenue at 18th Street, re: fireside coziness, but it's likely comfortable there, too.
Phin & Phebes and Graeter's, at a supermarket near you, possibly
I'm always skeptical when people talk about the "beloved regional favorites" of their hometowns, mostly because I figure the love is driven by nostalgia and homesickness, rather than actual taste. Not so with Graeter's though, the "French pot" ice cream that arrived here from Ohio a couple of years ago but only recently hit Whole Foods freezers, which is where I do most of my food shopping, and is now my most frequent home-eaten brand. I usually mix Double Chocolate Chip with Salted Caramel, and the texture and flavor (and HUGE chocolate chunks) are amazing, but the Black Raspberry is pretty great too. Also in heavy rotation in my household: the Brooklyn-based Phin & Phebes, especially the super-intense Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and the Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which has that nice chicory flavor. Both brands sell for $6.99 a pint at my local, which is a little extravagant, but at this point I simply can not resist.