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Summer Guide: The Village Voice's Field Guide to Cold Summer Treats

From gelato to affogato to fro-yo&emdash;our recommended frozen fun

While the technology needed to produce frozen treats may seem like a modern invention, these sweet delights of summer are far more ancient. Most stories about the origin of icy desserts mention the emperor Nero. In addition to fiddling while Rome burned, he ordered slaves to transport ice at a run from the Apennine Mountains around 60 A.D., then had it mixed with honey and nuts to produce the first Italian ice.

But earlier stories abound. The Chinese were caught making frozen rice pudding around 200 B.C., and two centuries before that, the Persians invented a dessert of noodles and rosewater mixed with ice called faloodeh, still served in modern Iran. Arabs took the lead in making frozen confections with dairy products, and by 1000 A.D., most Middle Eastern cities had ice cream.

Though frozen desserts were popular in 18th-century England and France, no one outstrips contemporary Americans in their craving for ice cream and its ilk (each of us downs an average of 24 quarts per year). Our range of options is astonishingly diverse. To assist you in making some tough choices, we here provide a field guide to the city's frozen treats, listing our favorite examples in each category. Get licking!

Amelia Beamish
Amelia Beamish

Location Info

Map

Eddie's Sweet Shop

105-29 Metropolitan Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11434

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Jamaica

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

65 Bayard St.
New York, NY 10013

Category: Retail

Region: Soho

Blue Marble Ice Cream

186 Underhill Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Brooklyn

Jacques Torres Chocolate

66 Water St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Category: Retail

Region: Brooklyn

Australian Homemade

115 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10009

Category: Retail

Region: East Village

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato

188 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Gelato

Region: Lower East Side

L'Arte Del Gelato

75 7th Ave.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Retail

Region: Chelsea

The Lemon Ice King of Corona

52-02 108th St.
Flushing, NY 11368

Category: Retail

Region: Flushing

Sundaes and Cones

95 E. 10th St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Restaurant > Frozen Yogurt

Region: East Village

Shake Shack

23rd & Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Category: Restaurant > Fast Casual

Region: Flatiron

ChikaLicious

203 E. 10th St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: East Village

Good Enough To Eat

483 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10024

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: West 80s

Duane Park

308 Bowery
New York, NY 10012

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Greenwich Village

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Ice Cream

Containing a minimum of 10 percent butterfat, ice cream should be served hard, and scooped into a cup or cone, the latter first introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. There are many national chains that serve a dependable product, but why not go to one of the city's oldest ice cream parlors? Founded in 1909, and looking every bit its age, the best is Eddie's Sweet Shop (105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills, Queens, 718-520-8514). Others: Eggers Ice Cream Parlor (7437 Amboy Road, Tottenville, Staten Island, 718-605-9335) and Hinsch's Confectionery (8518 Fifth Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 718-748-2854).

Other places with excellent homemade ice cream, but less in the way of nostalgic ambience: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard Street, 212-608-4170); Blue Marble (186 Underhill Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, 718-399-6926, and other locations); Jacques Torres Ice Cream (62 Water Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, 718-875-9772); and Australian Homemade (115 St. Mark's Place, 212-228-5439).

Vegan Ice Cream

This category sounds like an internal contradiction, but one place makes a delectable frozen product using either soy milk or coconut milk, the latter preferred: Stogo (159 Second Avenue, 212-677-2301).

Gelato

Gelato is Italian ice cream, flaunting a smoother texture and lower butterfat than American-style ice cream, as well as flavors that emphasize fresh fruit and nuts. Our favorite, where you can also get a slammin' hot fudge or hot butterscotch sundae: Il Laboratorio del Gelato (95 Orchard Street, 212-343-9922). Also: Ciao Bella Gelato Café (27 East 92nd Street, 212-831-5555) and Grom (2165 Broadway, 212-362-1837).

Argentine Gelato

We have only one example of this obscure genre, which falls somewhere between ice cream and gelato in texture, excelling at astringent flavors such as grapefruit and exhibiting a more coarse consistency: Cones (272 Bleecker Street, 212-414-1795).

Affogato

The word means "poached" in Italian, but also designates a scoop of gelato—usually vanilla—with espresso poured over it, for a spectacular way to ingest caffeine. Try it at L'Arte del Gelato (75 Seventh Avenue South, 212-924-0803).

Water Ices

While we recognize rich gelati as a recently imported phenomenon, so-called Italian ices have been with us for more than a century. Smooth-textured from fine ice crystals, and strongly flavored with fruits, nuts, coffee, and mint, along with brazenly artificial flavors, but no dairy, modern water ices are as refreshing as those first served to Nero. Granddaddy of them all is the Lemon Ice King of Corona (5202 108th Street, Corona, Queens, 718-699-5133). Other great choices: Rocco's Pastry Shop (243 Bleecker Street, 212-242-6031) and D'aiuto (405 Eighth Avenue, 212-564-7136).

Milk Ices

Milk ices are an Italian-American invention—a little lighter than gelato, but a little more coarse-textured. The most noted purveyor: Ralph's Famous Italian Ices (3285 Richmond Avenue, Port Richmond, Staten Island, 718-967-1212, and other locations).

Sorbet or Sherbet

"Sorbet" is the French word for ices that contain minimal amounts of dairy products, or none at all, sometimes served slushy, sometimes firmed up with gelatin. Italian-style sorbetti are available at the gelato joints mentioned above. For sherbet, its American equivalent, check out Last Licks Ice Cream (245 East 93rd Street, 646-596-8566). For a beverage called a sherbet freeze, proceed to Sundaes and Cones (95 East 10th Street, 212-979-9398).

Paletas

These stick-borne treats are the Mexican answer to Froz Fruits. The most interesting are zapped with unexpected ingredients like salt and chipotle chilies. They're available in any bodega in Mexican immigrant neighborhoods, but our favorite place to score them is La Paleteria Michoacana (4118 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-431-9312).

Popsicle

In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson invented the popsicle when he accidently left a soda outside in cold weather with a stick in it. While "Popsicle" is a trademarked name, many tweakings of the concept have occurred. Featuring fresh seasonal farmers'-market fruits, but still mounted on a stick, pogo on over to People's Pops (Chelsea Market, 425 West 15th Street, plus Saturdays and Sundays at the Brooklyn Flea).

Soft-Serve

This catch-all term denotes a frozen product extruded from a machine into a cone or cup, made with milk but also including thickeners. In New York, it's often sold from trucks like Kool Man and Mister Softee. For a gourmet updating of the concept, check out the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (follow location on Twitter at @biggayicecream for location). Or go to the closest Dairy Queen (513 Westside Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-432-8257).

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