Ice Cream Craving!!!
Visiting Manhattan from California and wondering where I can find great ice cream. Now, I know Il Cono and some good gelato places, but I mean ice cream. Great, high butter fat ice cream. Prefer locales anywhere south of 34th, but will travel wherever necessary....
One would think that New York would have great choices given that it was the first city with an ice cream in the Colonial period. But unlike in Boston, it just isn't as popular a past time here.
I have been searching for great choices for a long time with only limited success - Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (which is near Grimaldi's, a very good pizza place, and near BargeMusic) is the best I've had in New York. Peter's, on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, is also good. Jahn's in Queens is further afield but very good. I've heard about Mary's Dairy in the village but have not been.
The ice cream at Sedutto's is good but not great. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (on Bayard in Chinatown) is also good. The ice cream at Serendipity is ok - the sundae is really the thing. There are also branches of chains such as Ben and Jerry's (too sweet), or Emack and Bolio's (good), Cold Stone Creamery (ok) that are mostly about mix-ins.
Jacques Torres (either in Manhattan or Brooklyn) has nice ice cream sandwiches, as do Ruby and Violette (which is very far west on 50th street) and 'Wichcraft (not sure if they have them in all locations)
There are also a few restaurants that make there own that is good (e.g. Payard which also makes lovely pastries and good bistro food) and Maison du Chocolat makes very nice ice cream (but may only serve it in the warm weather).
I really like Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. As Lucia said below, one of the alums opened up East Village Ice Cream Factory on 14 or 13 St./Ave. B. I have to get down there some day.
Second Maison du Chocolat. Best ever! Flavors are very intense, but it's pricey at $7/two scoops.
Not sure if this counts, but I also like the vanilla custard at Shake Shack. I think the other flavors are muted.
For the value, nothing beats Manhattan Glacier (inside Manhattan Fruitier) at about $2/scoop. They use artisan ingredients like mission figs and Valrhona chocolate. The butterfat is really high; I think it masks the flavors. Also, the chocolate sorbet is so rich that I felt sick after a few bites. I think they're related to Creme Cremelarie (spelling?) The only bad thing is they're only open 9-5, M-F. They're at 105 E 29 St. between Park and Lex.
Peter's on Atlantic Avenue was fabulous, but they've been gone for years! My favorite ice cream is Chinatown Ice Cream factory, though if you're looking for really high cream check out Sedutto. Cones is OK, but I find them overrated. My favorite gelato, which few here seem to know about, is the stand in front of Osteria del Circo, the closest to Italy I've had in NY (as good and cheaper than Grom, without the wait).
I recently wrote a piece about ice cream:
Here's the opening:
Until recently I never gave that much thought to ice cream, at least as an adult, except when I was traveling and wanted to try the local versions. Of course I've always liked ice cream, who doesn’t, but it and sweets in general were never my weakness. Last summer, however, I started thinking more about ice cream. It started with a specific craving. For some reason, one hot day, I developed a craving for mocha chip ice cream from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. At first the craving was so specific that I was not tempted to substitute another kind of ice cream. I was working in midtown at the time, nowhere near the shop. The craving persisted for multiple days. I considered taking the subway downtown at lunchtime to satisfy it, but I never got around to it.
Then, one day, I decided to go for a compromise. I knew of a candy and ice cream shop on West 55th Street that carries Sedutto ice cream. Sedutto is good stuff, albeit almost pathologically rich. I headed over, hoping they had mocha chip. But on the way I was waylaid. In front of the high-end Italian restaurant Osteria del Circo was a gelato stand, which the restaurant brings out every summer. I remembered from prior summers that it was excellent gelato, and among the flavors available on this particular day was caffe latte. So I got a cup with two flavors, caffe latte and gianduja, which is based on a famous chocolate-hazelnut candy (I’m not quite sure what the difference between gianduja and bacio are). The caffe latte was good, but the gianduja was amazing. It was possibly the best gelato I’ve had outside of Italy or the Ticino. The consistency was perfect, the flavors intense and vibrant. I was hooked, and I kept going back. They rotated their flavors, and I tried a bunch. While most were very good, the only one that really rivaled the gianduja was the caramello, which had a nice burnt-milk boldness without the bitterness I’ve found in Mario Batali’s version at Otto. The cart, which is only open for two or three months each year, is reasonably priced, considering the quality of the product. Cups go for $3, $4 and $5, much less than a dish in the restaurant. The sorbetti looked beautiful too, but I just couldn’t move past the gelati.
I agree with the other posters that there isn't much of this to be found in NYC. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is probably the best. An alum of it has just started a new spot, East Village Ice Cream. I have not been, but it may be worth a try. Emack and Bolio and Mary's Dairy are OK. I've enjoyed Australian Homemade's ice cream, but it's been a while since my last trip.
i'm no expert because i rarely eat dessert, but i'm always tempted by Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard...i usually either get lychee or coconut...