New Yorkers are used to having direct access to artisanal ice cream, no matter what their neighborhood. Ample Hills reigns supreme in Hell’s Kitchen and Prospect Heights, Oddfellows has outposts in East Village and Williamsburg, Big Gay Ice Cream is the pride of the East Village and Greenwich Village, and Morgenstern’s rules over the Lower East Side.
Yet Harlem, despite its noted restaurant renaissance, has lagged behind as far as small batch scoops are concerned; its market largely dominated by corporate Baskin-Robbins. That makes Sugar Hill Creamery undoubtably the biggest local opening of the summer; being the first family-owned ice cream shop to grace the area in 34 years.
Located on Lenox Avenue (which also happens to be home to husband-and-wife partners, Nick and Petrushka Larsen), the 500-square foot space was designed by Co-Office — itself situated on Malcom X Boulevard — and is decorated with portraits of Harlem residents, which artist Raul Ayala will rotate throughout the year. Not only that, but the Creamery was partially financed with loans from Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and the Larsens immediately became members of Harlem Park to Park; which represents 100+ entrepreneurs committed to cultural preservation, small business and economic development.
Petrushka herself has unquestionably deep roots in the neighborhood, being the executive director of the Reading Room (a literacy-based non-profit nearby), while Nick provides the necessary restaurant management credentials, with past, high-level experience at Telepan, Bar Boulud and Blue Hill. That said, they’ve outsourced the ice cream itself, bringing on Lafayette sous chef, Joey Stallings, to devise the dessert menu. Flavors include Peanut Butter Strawberry, Soursop, Blueberry Cheesecake, Salted Caramel Crunch and even Roasted Corn and Jalapeno, all made with area ingredients of course (besides the tamarind and guava from Essie Spice, and jam via Ida Preserves, the Larsen’s next-door neighbor bakes the brownies and cookies for their scoops).
Basken-Robbins may have a hold on Harlem, but Sugar Hill Creamery can actually call it home.
Sugar Hill Creamery
184 Lenox Ave