Our 10 Best Ice Creams in NYC, 2012


New York is a city of ice cream lovers. And we have a pretty outstanding set of parlors to make our summer days sweeter. Here are our 10 favorite ways to cool off right now (including sorbet, soft serve, and a sandwich). Don’t see your favorites here? Show them some love in the comments.

10. Steve’s David Stein recently relaunched Steve’s, the Boston ice cream company, here in New York. Though we might have been suspicious about the brand’s reinvention as “craft” ice cream, their pints are full of flavor. The winning strawberry-ricotta made with Salvatore BKLYN’s whole milk ricotta, for example, is delicious. And the blackberry-honeys are a close second. The pints are fairly resistant to quick melting, but don’t turn to rocks in your freezer either. So, stock up. Westside Market, 77 7th Ave., 212-807-7771

9. Sky Ice The Chujit family, from Chiang Mai, make Thai-inspired ice creams and shaved ice in this small Park Slope restaurant. There’s bracing black sesame-seaweed, and wasabi too, but I’m a fan of the delicate, refreshing rose-lychee sorbet, which is creamy, rather than icy. 63 Fifth Ave., 718-230-0910

8. Blue Marble This eco-conscious Brooklyn parlor sticks to simple, seasonal flavors, and sweetens their ice cream the very least they can get away with. The ‘culture real frozen yogurt’ is a mouthful of a name but a star of a scoop, made with Ronnybrook yogurt Seven Stars yogurt (sometimes they carry a honeyed version). I’m also fond of Blue Marble’s super light coffee soft serve, and the more intense root beer ice cream, which just seems to taste better when it’s perched on a cone. 196 Court St., Brooklyn, 718-858-0408

7. Milk Bar Their famous cereal milk, infused with brown sugar and cereal, offers a double-whammy of nostalgia when it’s frozen into a giant cup of soft serve. Getting it layered with salty-sweet cereal crunchies is a must. Christina Tosi and the gang make other flavors too, but cereal milk always trumps the more daring flavors (it’s also available at all the Milk Bar locations, which is a bonus). 251 E 13th St., 347-577-9504

6. Van Leeuwen Ben Van Leeuwen’s artisanal ice cream shop started out a truck, and he now has brick and mortar parlors in the East Village and Carroll Gardens. Ingredient-origin and general artisan-ness can be emphasized to the point of ridiculousness, but boy is the ice cream good. Friends can’t stop talking about the strawberry, the palm sugar is gorgeous, and the lovely, pleasingly tannic earl grey scoop is my favorite. 48 1/2 East 7th St., 718-701-1630

5. Ample Hills Sci-fi writer Brian Smith runs this cute Brooklyn parlor that sources dairy and eggs from upstate NY. Ample Hills’s flavors edge toward being intensely sweet, like the salted crack caramel and the malted vanilla (shot through with asteroids of malted milk balls). But sometimes super sweet can be just thing. 623 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-670-3346

4. Big Gay Ice Cream Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff turn out fun, over-the-top flavors at Big Gay Ice Cream (which started out as a summertime truck). The Salty Pimp is a favorite of mine, a cone of soft serve vanilla run through with dulce de leche and carefully dipped in a chocolate shell. It’s messy, drippy, and delightful. 125 East 7th St., no phone

3. Sundaes and Cones There are fine ginger, red bean, and mango scoops at Sundaes and Cones in the East Village, but the black sesame is a real standout. It’s speckled black and has a deep, caramel-like flavor. Though there are plenty of magazines in the shop to keep the ice-cream eater entertained, black sesame is all she really needs. 95 E 10th St., 212-979-9398

2. Bklyn Larder Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, of Franny’s, sell beautiful gelatos at Bklyn Larder. The fior di latte is a favorite, made with whole milk from the grass-fed cows at Evans Farmhouse Creamery, organic sugar and a bit of salt. When it’s sandwiched between two fantastic chocolate cookies, it reminds me of what I loved as a kid except…it’s so much better. And that’s what great ice cream is all about! 228 Flatbush Ave., 718-783-1250

1. Victory Garden This ice cream parlor in the West Village is a gem. Don’t be fooled by the hippie goat butter lip salves and soaps on display — the dense, creamy soft serve means business. Victory Garden usually has four flavors going at a time, and all are worth a taste. The salty caramel is a beautiful rendition of cajeta, and the herbal soft serve has all the flavors of herbes de provence, drying in the summer sun. But the tangy goat’s milk, which highlights the delicious milk from Connecticut’s Beltane Farm dairy, is pure goaty goodness. And hey, if you’re not a purist, you can have some fun with the mix-ins, too. 31 Carmine St., 212-206-7273