Looking for the best places to get ice cream in NYC? I’ll tell you which ones are worth the visit when your next sweet tooth hits! This is part 1 of 2 in the first of many NYC ice cream tours.
For those of you who weren’t bombarded by my all-day instagramming and tweeting last weekend, you missed out on many, many pictures of ice cream. Truth be told, we didn’t end up going to any traditional ice cream spots, but for the purpose of searching for quality frozen desserts in New York City, it is necessary to loop gelato, fancy soft serve and ice cream sandwiches into the mix. In the next trip I’ll be sure to focus on more of the quality hard stuff, especially when I expand the tour into Brooklyn. Maybe next time I won’t be as lazy and will actually bring along my DSLR. All of the photos here were taken on my iPhone.
The tour started early on Saturday with Rachel in Soho (we worked our way up and through the Lower East Side / East Village over to the West Village and then up through Chelsea and Midtown West). The first stop was il laboratorio del gelato, convenient since they open in the morning!
Overall takeaway was that the gelato was delicious but the service and atmosphere left something to be desired. The store itself was originally set to be for production but they had so much space that they threw in a scooping counter as an afterthought. The factory-like setting definitely matched the tone of the woman working behind the counter. They have a strict 2-tastes / person rule (there are a LOT of flavors to choose from). Even after we explained that we were on an ice cream crawl and despite the fact that there was no one else in the store, Rachel wasn’t privy to just one more sample. You would think that in certain conditions exceptions can be made.
But the gelato, it was good. Dark Chocolate and Banana on the left for Rachel, Mocha Chip and Mexican Cinnamon on the right for me. I also tasted pumpkin which was very squashy in flavor (in a good way). The fig was very good as well.
Next stop, Melt Bakery for ice cream sandwiches. We got there just as they were opening and there were only a few flavors to choose from, but the people who worked there were so nice and passionate about what they were serving that I was completely won over.
One of the employees told us that we had to try this ice cream sandwich, passion fruit ice cream with vanilla shortbread. It wouldn’t have normally been my first choice but I really enjoyed it. The shortbread was buttery and salty while the ice cream was creamy and refreshing.
One of the highlights of the day was meeting a fellow ice cream lover who was there to buy a slew of ice cream sandwiches to take home. He loved that we were doing an ice cream tour and generously treated us to the ice cream sandwich. It was so sweet and unnecessary… who says New Yorkers aren’t nice?
My happy place.
Stop number three was the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop where we met up with Elizabeth. This shop is pretty well-known and famous for the Salty Pimp, a giant cone of vanilla soft serve ice cream, lined with dulce de leche, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chocolate.
The shop was full of unicorns and packed immediately upon opening.
I couldn’t go to Big Gay without trying the Salty Pimp
And while the Salty Pimp was tasty, for me, the American Globs stole the show. Vanilla soft serve ice cream, crushed pretzels, chocolate dipped. Yeah, exactly.
The three of us shared the two cones which was plenty for the tour. Each one was pretty large.
American Globs, get in my face.
Next up, our fourth stop took us to Fresco. Fresco is a cute little gelato shop much smaller and more inviting in décor than il laboratorio. From the website “Fresco Gelateria, located in the heart of the East Village, offers a modern twist on the traditional slow churn process by combining quality ingredients and progressive flavors.” There were far fewer flavors than our previous gelato stop, but we were welcome and invited to taste as many of them as we wanted. Between the three of us we probably tried all of them!
Maybe it was the three ice cream stops before hand, maybe it was the warm weather, or maybe it was just Fresco’s unbelievably creamy sorbet, but that day I went against everything I believe in and chose sorbet over gelato. Does that even count as ice cream? Trust me, their gelato is pretty amazing, but one taste of the Passion Mojito sorbet and I was sold. Usually looked over (by me) as a cop-out dessert, I couldn’t help but go for it.
The three of us shared the cup of Passion Mojito, Mango and Strawberry. The strawberry was good but mango was exceptionally creamy and flavorful without being overly sweet. Not to mention how pretty the trio of flavors were. If I still lived on Union Square I would be there all the time.
Part 2 coming soon!