On a recent weekend afternoon, Jeremy Mustakas flitted between working the barista station and helping scoop ice cream for local Crown Heights families. Earlier this month, the Brooklyn-raised, bespectacled business owner opened Elsie’s Parlor (667 Classon Avenue, 718-717-8654) in the space that once held Crosby Coffee, which he also owned. It’s the second business named after his Italian-American grandmother, following a nearby doughnut and coffee kiosk down the block. Now the bustling Brooklyn neighborhood has double the homemade treats and responsibly sourced caffeine.
There are stools along the windows, but the new shop trades the cafe’s old banquettes for sugar, in the form of racks upon racks of $2.50 doughnuts and a selection of ice creams, many bearing Italian names and ingredients, like the fig jam-filled confettura di fichi, a yeast dougnut glazed with mascarpone sprinkled with almonds and honey. Mixed berries give the frutti di bosco dougnut a magenta hue, and pistachio pops are vivid green. There’s even a savory doughnut stuffed with Romano cheese and more mascarpone. Bulbous, like good Italian bomboloni, Mustakas’ cheesy dessert gets honey glaze and a scattering of shredded cheese on top. Gluten-free apple cider doughnuts are also available.
Ice cream flavors overlap with the baked goods, so you can decide which rendition of frutti di bosco or brown butter with cinnamon tastes best. Available scooped into cups or sugar cones ($3 for a single scoop,) they’re pleasantly smooth and quite creamy — wonderful in an affogato. Overzealous types might try a doughnut ice cream sandwich, stuffing frozen spheres of dark chocolate or butterscotch-peanut between two dark chocolate doughnuts studded with Italian amarena cherries (the gold standard for maraschino cocktail cherries.) You can also purchase an Elsie’s-branded baseball helmet cup, which I did, following in the footsteps of a Brooklyn youth rocking a Wu-Tang shirt.
With tons of natural light and a colorful stained glass window, the tiled space inside Elsie’s Parlor makes for an inviting stop when in the area. The shop is only a ten minute walk from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and it’s already proving popular with families and locals in search of the good stuff. Mustakas is more than happy to oblige from morning until night (he opens at 7 a.m. and closes at midnight every day) and the customers crowding his marble countertops attest to that.