Ice cream best bets on Long Island
What makes ice cream worth going out for is the use of real vanilla, fine cocoa and fresh fruit. Most important, it takes an ice-cream chef with a burning passion for frozen desserts. Here are nearly two dozen shops that consistently deliver sweet, creamy goodness and are worth the trip.
International Delight Cafe(Credit: Jin Lee)
INTERNATIONAL DELIGHT CAFE, Bellmore and Rockville Centre: The confection here falls somewhere between ice cream and gelato: Like gelato, there's very little air whipped into it, but most of the flavors have a fat content (12 percent or more) that put them in the ice-cream category. An avowed chocoholic, owner Toni Rollandi makes a dozen-odd chocolate flavors, including Dolomite (an Italianized rocky road) and gianduia, a bittersweet blend of chocolate and hazelnut — think grown-up Nutella.
Herrell's Ice Cream(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)
HERRELL'S ICE CREAM, Huntington Village: The emphasis here is on excellent ingredients and attention to detail. Often, classic flavors are served in multiple iterations — not only vanilla, but malted vanilla (with malt powder) and high-definition vanilla (with even more vanilla flavor).
Itgen's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour(Credit: Newsday / Ken Spencer)
ITGEN'S RESTAURANT AND ICE CREAM PARLOUR, Valley Stream: Itgen's may well serve Long Island's best hot fudge (shown in the sundae, pictured), although it was the caramel sundae that was featured in Saveur magazine's 2012 "top 100." All of the toppings are homemade, down to the wet nuts, which makes them fitting adornments to the shop's terrific homemade ice cream and whipped cream.
Wolfie's Frozen Custard(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)
WOLFIES FROZEN CUSTARD, Northport: Frozen custard is softer than ice cream, not as dense as gelato. And Wolfies is the only shop on Long Island that specializes in it. With 20-odd daily offerings, you can't go wrong with the fresh vanilla, perfectly balanced chocolate, elegant Key lime, tangy raspberry or slightly salty English toffee.
Sip 'N Soda Luncheonette(Credit: Randee Daddona)
SIP 'N SODA LUNCHEONETTE, Southampton: The excellent homemade ice-cream elves at Sip 'N Soda freeze trays of local strawberries in season so that they can make strawberry ice cream year-round — or as long as the berries last. When the weather is so hot and sticky that even ice cream can't do the trick, the Southampton spot scores with fountain throwbacks such as a lime ricky.
Sant Ambroeus(Credit: Doug Young)
SANT AMBROEUS, Southampton: The Southampton outpost of the venerable Manhattan ristorante-pasticceria (itself spawned by the original restaurant-bakery in Milan), Sant Ambroeus is the East End's gelato central. The coffee flavor is done with house-brewed espresso, and fresh banana goes into the banana gelato. Also recommended: tangy passion fruit, grapefruit and lemon, and the lush chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla.
Baci Gelato(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
BACI GELATO, Williston Park: Baci's wares come in about 100 flavors — with two dozen or so available on any given day — and include classic Italian gelato varieties — fior di latte (milk flavor), stracciatella (chocolate chip), espresso — and American innovations such as banana split and cookies and cream. The store's most popular flavor is bacio, a chocolate-hazelnut base with bits of hazelnut.
Star Confectionery(Credit: Doug Young)
STAR CONFECTIONERY, Riverhead: This landmark ice-cream parlor and luncheonette has been in the Meras family since 1920. The ice cream is made either by third-generation owner Anthony Meras or his father (also Anthony), who makes his own chocolate flavoring base with Hershey's cocoa powder. The result is clean and chocolaty, with a caramel undertone.
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen(Credit: Ian J. Stark)
BRIDGEHAMPTON CANDY KITCHEN, Bridgehampton: Little has changed at Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen since it opened in 1925 — the ice cream is still homemade — and fruit flavors, often made with local fruit in season, is a specialty.
Hildebrandt's(Credit: Kirsten Luce)
HILDEBRANDT'S, Williston Park: At this Long Island institution, founded in 1927, ice cream flavors come and go but might include root-beer rock 'n' roll, chocolate mint wafer, black raspberry, crème brûlée, bananas Foster and lemon meringue pie. Or try a classic ice-cream soda (pictured).
Pazzo Gelato(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)
PAZZO GELATO, Garden City Park: On any given day the house-made gelato, with many of the ingredients imported from Italy, includes at least a dozen flavors. The pistachio tastes deeply of nuts; the dark chocolate is practically black.
Northport Sweet Shop(Credit: Jesse Newman)
NORTHPORT SWEET SHOP, Northport: In business since before World War II, this luncheonette's homemade ice cream is crafted into all sorts of old-fashioned concoctions such as milk frosts (a milkshake garnished with a scoop of ice cream) and French ice cream sodas (topped with fresh whipped cream). Also: a unique lemon custard.
McNulty's Ice Cream Parlor(Credit: John Dunn)
MCNULTY'S ICE CREAM PARLOR, Miller Place: Opened in 1991, the shop's signature flavors include vanilla peanut butter, mint chunk, cherry vanilla, butter pecan, raspberry truffle and "moose tracks." A favorite: The Sandpail Sundae, that comes complete with shovel and rake, and a cherry on top.
Coyle's Homemade Ice Cream(Credit: Newsday / Ken Spencer)
COYLE'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM, Bay Shore and Islip: Marty Coyle does not hail from the keep-it-simple school of ice-cream making. To wit, his bestselling flavor (and personal favorite) is chocolate raspberry truffle, whose demure name belies its elaborate composition: chocolate ice cream blended with raspberry sauce, then laced with more raspberry sauce and punctuated with chocolate chunks.
Hicksville Sweet Shop(Credit: Jacqueline Connor)
HICKSVILLE SWEET SHOP, Hicksville: The unassuming shop is a throwback to that pre-Baskin-Robbins era, when luncheonettes made their own ice cream, sauces and syrups as well as candies and molded chocolates. A sweet highlight is the chocolate ice cream, made from a rich chocolate base intensified by their own cocoa flavoring.
Hollow Creamery(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)
HOLLOW CREAMERY, Carle Place: Get an espresso or beer (there are 28 craft beers here) with your ice cream. Two flavors of note: an intense banana pudding and a pistachio punctuated by salted nuts, whole and crushed. Yes, beer floats are available.
Five Pennies Creamery(Credit: Jason Andrew)
FIVE PENNIES CREAMERY, Rockville Centre: Opened in 2010, Five Pennies looks to the past with egg creams (made with Fox's U-Bet and seltzer from old-fashioned siphons), soft-serve Coney Island custard and Italian fruit ices that are used, in turn, to create the store's signature Cyclone (after the roller coaster), in which the custard and ices are layered in a symphony of delectably cold sweetness.
Ice Cream Cottage(Credit: John Griffin)
ICE CREAM COTTAGE, Mastic: John Pastore has been making ice cream at his little "cottage" in Mastic since 1980, serving ice cream in an unparalleled variety of cones: sugar, wafer, double wafer, waffle, chocolate waffle, chocolate chip, chocolate wafer, pretzel, M&M. Ice cream flavors include chocolate overdose (fudge, chips, brownies), black forest (black Bordeaux cherries and broken-up chocolate shell) and chocolate peanut-butter cup.
Marshall's Ice Cream Bar(Credit: T.C. McCarthy)
MARSHALL'S ICE CREAM BAR, Massapequa: Marshall's makes its own ice cream, and a mean malt. The chocolate is intensely (but not ponderously) chocolaty, with just the right kick of malt.
Krisch's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour(Credit: Ed Betz)
KRISCH'S RESTAURANT AND ICE CREAM PARLOUR, Massapequa: Krisch's classic ice cream recipes, such as toasted almond and coconut, have hardly changed in 60 years. The chocolate is sweet, straightforward and kid-friendly; newer flavors include pralines and cream, peanut butter cup, Fluffer Nutter (marshmallow and peanut butter) and chocolate-covered strawberry.
Sweets of the Spoon(Credit: Randee Daddona)
SWEETS OF THE SPOON, Rocky Point: Aside from the worthy chocolate, Sweets scoops a Rocky Point road filled with marshmallow and peanuts as well as a very popular flavor called dirt (chocolate with chocolate "crunch").
Snowflake(Credit: Doug Young)
SNOWFLAKE, Riverhead: Stu Feldschuh is the mad professor of ice cream, obsessively tinkering with minute proportions and seemingly identical ingredients to achieve the perfect flavor. His iconic specialty: Peconic swamp thing, made with chocolate ice cream, fudge and brownies with ribbons of raspberry puree.