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New York’s Finest Ice Cream Shops

ice cream sandwich.jpgIf you’re like us, the recent heat has been making you crave the sweet, cool relief of ice cream.  These gelaterias and ice cream trucks can serve as oases during your hot summer walks.  We listed a few of our favorites, some new and trendy and some old NYC classics.  There are ice cream types for everyone, whether you’re looking for exotic flavors, authentic gelato, or want to top your sundae with everything but the kitchen sink.  Can’t stand the New York heat?  Go get some ice cream.
At Restaurant Girl, we look forward to the summer warm weather and the ice cream that goes hand in hand with it (mostly we’re excited about the ice cream.)  There are a million different types of cool sweets to be had in New York, from Italian ices to gelato, soft-serve to ice cream sandwiches.  The stores are getting creative: offering gelato on a stick and soft-serve made of goats’ milk or soy. We listed a few of our favorites, some new and trendy and some NYC classics.  There are ice cream types for everyone, whether you’re looking for exotic flavors, authentic gelato, or want to top your sundae with everything but the kitchen sink.  Can’t stand the New York heat?  Go get some ice cream.

Coolhaus Ice Cream
Various Locations

This is the first East Coast outpost (mobile at that) of a popular LA storefront and truck fleet, specializing in ice cream sandwiches. Here’s the genius part: You can create your own sandwich combination by choosing an ice cream flavor (white Russian, flourless chocolate cake, or coffee Oreo) and pair it a complimentary cookie, like ginger molasses, chocolate chip, or brioche..  There’s even vegan options, such as seasonal sorbet sandwiched between two chocolate chip dried cherry cookies.  If you don’t feel like coming up with your own, Coolhaus offers its own killer combinations, all curiously named after architects.  We like the Frank Gehry, which pairs snickerdoodle cookies with strawberry ice cream. Genius.

Address: 60 University Place (between 10th and 11th St)

Amorinowins the award for prettiest presentation hands down  Have you ever ordered gelato and received a chilly rose made entirely out of gelato. Even better, each petal is a different flavor, and it’s theoretically possible to get all 22 flavors on the menu made into one massive flower.  (Maybe next time.)  Still, the flavors are all so pure and intense that we prefer to eat one or two flavors at a time, like coffee, made from Brazilian beans, chocolate-hazelnut or passion fruit.

Ample Hills Creamery
Address: 623 Vanderbilt Avenue (St.
Mark’s Avenue)
Phone: (718)670-3346

This Prospect Heightsshop offers marvelous upmarket flavors, like maple-bacon, chocolate stout with pretzels, and bubblegum, turned pink with beet juice.  The bases for all of the flavors are hand-mixed by Brian Smith, the owner and all the dairy he uses come from local farms and is pasteurized on site. Instead of using extracts, Ample Hills steeps ingredients, like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and peanuts in their homemade ice cream mix.  This process pays off big time, particularly in a flavor called Kettle Karma, a kettle corn infused ice cream with whole kernels of caramel corn mixed in.

Woodpecker Sno-Balls

Address: 145 Seventh Ave. South, at
Charles St.
Phone: (251)366-7777

In the space that was once occupied by Birdbath Bakery, Neesa Peterson (a former model) has opened this little pop-up shop, featuring New Orleans-style snowballs. Much fluffier than traditional snow cones, Peterson’s shaved ices come doused in syrup (there are over 30 flavors on tap for you to choose
from, including Tiger Blood for Charlie Sheen fans). For now, Woodpecker’s a seasonal pop-up, but we’re hoping they change their mind. Just in case they don’t, you might want to seize the day on this one.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Address: 65 Bayard Street, btwn. Mott & Elizabeth Sts.
Phone: (212)608-4170

This Chinatown institution opened in 1978 and has been a food destination for locals and tourists alike for over hundreds years now. Not bad.   Based on founder Philip Seid’s family recipes, the multitude of ice cream flavors combine the West’s favorite treat (ice cream) with traditional tastes from the East.  Skip chocolate and vanilla in favor of more unusual, unique offerings, like creamy avocado, egg custard, chocolate pandan and taro.  We’re particularly enamored with the black sesame and red bean flavors, which manages to be luscious, yet earthy at the same time.  There’s even a spicy wasabi flavor for adventurous types.

popbar.jpgVictory Garden
Address: 31 Carmine Street (Bleecker Street)

If you have no patience for lactose,
Victory Garden is your summer savior.  This newcomer to Greenwich Village features both soft-serve and frozen yogurt, uniquely made from tangy goats’ milk. The shop is decorated with photos of the actual goats from which the milk is sourced. (Weird, no?)  The flavors are all one-of-a-kind: Mastic, rosewater, lemon poppyseed, and salted caramel.  Their signature flavor is Chocolate Victory, which can be topped with honeycomb candy or stewed rhubarb in the spring.

Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Address: 95 Orchard Street
Phone: (212)343-9922

It’s a shame that there’s a two sample limit because the extensive selection of flavors at this Lower East Side shop can spark the urge to try them all.   After selling Ciao Bella, ice cream maker, Jon Snyder, created the Laboratorio as a “lab” in which caterers and chefs are encouraged to work with the staff to create unique ice creams for their restaurants and business.  (Makes you want to become a restaurateur.)  We all benefit through the collaboration, and the care taken in making each and every flavor.  Il Laboratorio offers 12 rotating flavors each day, but a few of our favorites, especially the fig gelato with actual seeds and four different kinds of figs.  If you’re looking for something quirky, try the cheddar cheese, Guinness, and tarragon pink pepper.

Various Locations

Grom seems to be taking over this city, one neighborhood at a time.  (You won’t see us complaining.) We couldn’t be happier that this Italian gelato company has brought its finely made product and and seasonal ingredients to New York.  Grom is serious about the slow foods movement, supporting small farmers from around the world.  (Look for the snail on the label to find small farm produce.)  There’s so many wonderful flavors to choose from here, but our favorites are the crema di Grom, a rich, egg cream based gelato studded with meliga biscuits, hazelnut and the extranoire chocolate, rich and intense.  Watch for seasonal specials, like June’s ricotta & mandorle, cheese swirled  with almond chips.

95 Allen Street (Delancey Street)

Yarisis Jacobo, the pastry chef at Sorello (the Northern Italian restaurant next door) takes full advantage of Stellina to showcase his very modern interpretations of old gelato classics.  Case in point: Straciatella made with coconut.  Or Chunky Stellina, a raspberry-buttermilk gelato with raspberry and bits of cone dipped in white chocolate.  There are true classics, like transcendently good fior di latte as well as dark chocolate sorbetto.  For June, the special is cinnamon toast with “toast” gelato, cinnamon caramel and salted toffee.

705 Ninth Ave., between 48th and 49th Sts.

While Kyotofu is perhaps better known for its cupcakes, it also doubles as an ice cream parlor come summertime.  Though you’d never know it, the soft serve here is made with soy milk, so it’s dairy-free and vegan.  If you can snag a table, do it right and order the sundae, along with an assortment of pastries and sweet tofu.  The flavors change monthly (there are always two available) and could include white and black sesame, kabocha black pumpkin or chocolate-black soybean.  We recommend getting the two flavors swirled and topped with mochi and house-made fruit compote.  Exotic and comforting all at the same time.

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Various Locations

Douglas Quint holds court from his converted Mister Softee ice cream truck, topping regular soft-serve with hyper creative touches.  One of our favorites is called the “Salty Pimp”, a combination of vanilla soft-serve, salty caramel sauce and a hard chocolate shell, topped off with sea salt.  Unless you’re in the mood for a full-on sundae.  In that case, head straight to The Gobbler, which comes with vanilla ice cream, pumpkin butter, crushed graham crackers, whipped cream and Craisins.  They’re all so imaginative and gloriously gluttonous it’s hard to choose between them, but we are suckers for Monday Sundae with its Nutella-lined cone, a detail that instantly kicks the butt of any other Mister Softee truck out there.  You can also create your own, topping soft-serve with olive oil and Maldon sea salt, cayenne pepper, curried coconut or Trix cereal.

Ralph’s Italian Ices
Address: 144 East 24th St., btwn. 56th & 57th Sts.
Phone: (212)533-5333

This Staten Island & Long  Island staple has finally made its way into Manhattan.  Thank god, because we were sick of trekking for shaved ices, though these are far beyond the usual suspects, like Mai Tai or Island Punch. And there’s a big selection of sherberts, including  Banana Fudge and Crazy Coconut.  While they may not sound like it, Ralph’s ices are all made with natural flavors and ingredients.  The tour de force here just may be the Chocolate Chip Cookie split with a warm, jumbo cookie split in half and filled with cookie dough ice cream and hot fudge.  If you’re craving classics, like lemon or a rainbow ice, they’ve got that, too.

Address: 5 Carmine Street, at 6th Ave.
Phone: (212)255-4874

It’s hard to be original these days, but Popbarhas managed to pull it off with gelato on a stick.  There’s something to be said for savoring the luscious mouthfeel of every lick of this Italian treat.  Better yet, all of their bars are gluten-free, preservative-free and Kosher.  Popbar offers gelato, sorbetto and yogurt pops, all made with all natural sweeteners and high quality ingredients.  There are 26 rotating flavors, all fully customizable with dippings (melted dark, white and milk chocolate) and poppings (aka toppings) of hazelnuts, coffee grains or granola.  Create your own combination or just go nude.

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