1745 Deer Park Ave., Deer Park, 631-667-0201
Michael Costigliola draws the line at birthday cake gelato. The Italian-born owner of Caffe Italia doesn’t understand the American penchant for gelato “with crazy stuff in it.” After all, what could be better than vanilla with real vanilla beans, coffee with freshly pulled Miscela d’Oro espresso, strawberry with fresh strawberries, lemon with fresh-squeezed lemons, hazelnut with nuts from Turin, pistachio with nuts from Sicily. Bending to popular demand, he does make an Oreo gelato (that sells out every day, much to his mystification), but his heart is in the simple, elegant flavors that remind him of Italy.
Costigliola opened the sparkling, bite-sized Caffe Italia in January. Since he emigrated from Monte di Procida when he was 18, he’s been in the food business, working for years at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park in Patchogue and, currently, as a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables. That means he’s at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx a few days a week, where he has his pick of the area’s best fruits — evident in the vibrant strawberry gelato.
Cups, cones, waffle bowls, milkshakes, sundaes — Caffe Italia has them all, but why not do like the Sicilians and get a big scoop sandwiched inside a split brioche bun?
12 E. Main St., Oyster Bay, 516-628-0385
For the first 15 years of its life in Oyster Bay, Gooseberry Grove was an antiques shop. When owner Bob Liebold turned it into an ice-cream shop after five years, he decided to keep the name. “Everyone liked it,” he said. “It just rolled off the tongue.”
In May, he transformed the Main Street shop yet again, smartening up the décor and adding serious coffee to the menu. The brewed and pulled drinks are made with beans from Berkshires-based Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, which Liebold chose after tasting brews “all over Long Island and New York.” Huntington’s Sail Away Coffee provides the cold brew and “nitro brew” — dispensed from a tap so it gets a beer-worthy head of foam.
The soul of Gooseberry Grove, though, is still the ice cream. Dozens of homemade flavors including chocolate-bacon (chocolate ice cream studded with chocolate-covered bacon) and the legendary Matt’s frappé: Kahlúa-flavored vanilla ice cream inundated with chunks of Heath bar and frozen brownie batter.
If you want to combine Gooseberry Grove tradition with innovation, try the affogato, a scoop of ice cream “drowned” in espresso.