If you're tired of ice cream, you're tired of life. Truly, it is providence's perfect food. But you know humans -- they like to tinker with perfection. Here are some variations on the theme of ice cream on Long Island.
Gemelli Gelato, Hampton Bays: Set back from Montauk Highway on a gentle slope, Gemelli Gelato is one of the Island's prettiest spots for enjoying ice cream. Sit at a picnic table while the kids run around (and drip) on the expansive lawn. The shop's been open for a few years, but this year it's been taken over by Anthony DePaola and Charlie Ferrante, whose company Gelato Kings supplies local restaurants and caters events with a mobile gelato cart. (Gelato Kings had been one of Gemelli's suppliers.) DePaola and Ferrante bring a youthful verve to the centuries-old art of gelato, creating flavors such as passion fruit, rainbow cookie, apple pie and white chocolate with raspberries. The "chocolate elephant" features smooth peanut butter gelato studded with chopped brownies and pieces of chocolate. Even the cones are inventive: In addition to wafer, sugar and waffle, Gemelli stocks red velvet cones and birthday cake cones.
Dei Coltelli Gelato & Sorbet
Dei Coltelli Gelato & Sorbet, Williston Park: This spot at the corner of Willis Avenue has been dispensing homemade gelato since 2005, but in February, the store got a new name and a spiffy makeover. Allen Aingorn had been a partner in the store's former incarnation, Baci Gelato, but as of February he's sole owner of dei Coltelli. The name (pronounced "day coal-TELL-ee") honors Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, the Sicilian chef who first popularized Italian ice cream at his Café Procope, founded in Paris in 1686. Long Islander Aingorn fell for gelato when, in his early 20s, he was playing professional soccer in Italy and, in his off hours, would hang out at his team owner's gelateria. At dei Coltelli, virtually all the ingredients (except for fresh fruit) are imported from Italy. Pistachio, made with Sicilian nuts, is particularly fine. Other popular flavors are bacio (chocolate-hazelnut), stracciatella (cream-flavored ice cream laced with dark chocolate) and salted caramel. Dei Coltelli also makes elegant gelato cakes and gelato pops.
Gooseberry Grove at Oak Neck Deli
Gooseberry Grove at Oak Neck Deli, Bayville: Gooseberry Grove has moved its homemade ice cream four miles north. The ice cream parlor was a fixture in Oyster Bay since 2004, but after owner Bob Liebold lost his lease, he decamped to Bayville. Liebold, who has a thriving wholesale business, installed his equipment in a commercial kitchen, but he missed having a retail outlet. Oak Neck Deli was happy to oblige and now you can supplement your sandwich with a scoop or shake or sundae. Gooseberry Grove makes dozens of 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. Also on offer at Oak Neck Deli: Gooseberry Grove's homemade fudge.
Joe & Liza's
Joe & Liza's, Bridgehampton: Joe and Liza Tremblay have been making ice cream at their Sag Harbor restaurant, Bay Burger, for years. But in 2012, they switched from a commercial ice-cream base to a stabilizer-, preservative-, hormone-free one custom made by a Hudson Valley dairy. Some of Joe & Liza's signature flavors are coffee, local strawberry and two varieties of mint chip, one a traditional vivid green made with mint extract, the other, colorless, made with cream that Liza infuses with fresh mint leaves.
D'latte Cafe, Greenport: At this well-known spot, owner Frank Purita uses local produce and his own imagination to produce very fine gelato. During the summer, his flavors follow the season: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, peach; even local goat milk turns up in gelato. For his pistachio he blends nuts from Sicily and Turkey to get just the right flavor. Recent inspirations include white chocolate with lavender, and coconut with lemon grass.
Ice Cream Cottage
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 including sugar, wafer, double wafer, waffle, chocolate waffle, chocolate chip, chocolate wafer, pretzel and 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.
Sant Ambroeus, Southampton: Sant Ambroeus is the East End's gelato central, the Southampton outpost of a Manhattan ristorante-gelateria itself inspired by the original cafe that opened in Milan in 1931. The surroundings may have an aura of hauteur but the gelato is pure, unadulterated joy. The coffee flavor is done with house-brewed espresso. Fresh banana goes into the banana gelato; the result puts the fruit itself to shame. Also recommended: tangy passion fruit, grapefruit and lemon, and the lush chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla.
Sweet Treats on the Wharf
Sweet Treats on the Wharf, Port Washington: In the nearly two decades that Douglas Shepardson has run Sweet Treats on the Wharf, he has produced most of the frozen desserts known to man: ice cream, soft serve, frozen yogurt, Italian ice, sorbet and shave ice, a Hawaiian specialty in which finely ground ice is topped with sweet, colorful, fruit-flavored syrup, resulting in a refreshing solid-going-slushy beverage. Buy a cup, then stroll onto Inspiration Wharf for one of the best views on the North Shore.
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen
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, are a specialty.
Frozen Cow Ices and Cream
Frozen Cow Ices and Cream, Lido Beach: It took some serious scoops to open an ice cream store a block away from Lido Beach's Marvel, but the owners of Frozen Cow have an entirely different approach. The emphasis is on inventive flavors such as sea-salt caramel, and a breakfast special, made with maple syrup and bits of bacon and Belgian waffles (pictured).
Roger's Frigate, Port Jefferson: Roger's Frigate does it all: hard ice cream, soft serve ice cream, yogurt, candy, chocolates, gelato, popcorn, fudge, smoothies, cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels. For those seeking a slightly more restrained confection, there's the fruit cream blast, a combination of soft-serve vanilla ice cream and fruit sorbet blended -- but not all the way -- so you can discern the creaminess of the vanilla from the iciness of the sorbet. Sorbet flavors include orange, raspberry, lemon and mango.
Sip 'n' Soda Luncheonette
Sip 'n' Soda Luncheonette, Southampton: This Southampton stalwart has been in the Parash family since 1958; little has changed since then. The four queens sundae (pictured) features homemade chocolate syrup -- a rarity -- poured over four scoops of homemade ice cream, with whipped cream and a cherry.
Magic Fountain, Mattituck: This North Fork ice cream stalwart is famous for its unexpected flavors. The roster is long and changes frequently, but may include kulfi (an aromatic Indian confection), rainbow cookie, coconut-jalapeno, olive oil or grape-nuts. Dairy-free varieties, such as vegan raspberry, are also available.
Viale Gelateria, Lynbrook: At her spotlessly clean new gelateria, Italian expat Anna Franchi offers about two dozen flavors every day. The variety rotates, but the resonantly nutty pistachio gelato (pictured) is a must-order. Dress it up with chocolate sauce or a sprinkling of crunchy little meringue bits.
Marshall's Ice Cream Bar
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.
Henry's Confectionery, Glen Cove: Two of this venerable luncheonette's specialties are breakfast and ice cream. If you'd care to sample both at the same time, try the waffle a la mode: a fresh-baked waffle topped with your choice of homemade ice cream, fresh fruit topping and whipped cream.
Marvel Frozen Dairy
Marvel Frozen Dairy, Lido Beach: Lido Beach's iconic Marvel ice cream stand got new owners in 2014, aside from a fresh coat of paint, the Fragioudakis family hasn't changed a thing. Folks still line up to get Marvel's signature brown bonnet, wherein a fully loaded cone or cup is upended and then dipped into a vat of melted chocolate that instantly hardens, forming a crisp shell.
Caffe Italia, Deer Park: Michael Costigliola, 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 espresso, strawberry with fresh strawberries, pistachio with nuts from Sicily? Bending to popular demand, he does make an Oreo gelato, but his heart is in the simple, elegant flavors that remind him of Italy. Try a big scoop of gelato sandwiched inside a split brioche bun.
Leonetti Pastry Shop
Leonetti Pastry Shop, Greenvale: Saverio and Stella Leonetti used to make gelato back in Bari, Italy. Here, on Long Island, they continue the family tradition at this Greenvale bakery. The gelato here is creamy and clean tasting, made frequently to ensure freshness. There are usually around 20 flavors on offer -- among them, excellent hazelnut, pistachio, coffee and chocolate -- plus a number of fruit sorbetti. Enjoy your scoop of choice at one of the little tables, and pretend you're in Italy.
Herrell's Ice Cream
Herrell's Ice Cream, Huntington: Herrell's makes a range of ice creams flavored with malt -- malted vanilla, malted chocolate, malted banana, triple malt -- and the refined malted sundae highlights its distinctive nutty-yeasty flavor. Two scoops of ice cream are drizzled with warm homemade penuche sauce (made with brown sugar and butter), then topped with nuts, crushed cookies or candies, whipped cream and a cherry.
Hildebrandt's, Williston Park: This 88-year-old institution has introduced something new for 2015: sundae shots. Hildebrandt's will fill a 2-ounce shot glass with your choice of ice cream and sauce, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles or nuts. The initial idea, said Hildebrandt's co-owner Bryan Acosta, was to appeal to the I'm-too-stuffed-for-a-full-sized-sundae customers, but he says he's also winning admirers among another demographic, the I-can't-decide-so-give-me-five-little-sundaes crowd.
Snowflake, Riverhead: Snowflake's sundae flavors follow the North Fork's fruit harvest. The summer starts with strawberries and ends with peaches. Try either fresh-fruit topping with your favorite flavor ice cream from the list of classics or the flavor-of-the-week, or be a seasonal-fruit purist: strawberry ice cream with strawberry sauce, peach with peach.
Wolfies Frozen Custard
Wolfies Frozen Custard, Northport: Frozen custard is softer than ice cream, not as dense as gelato. It's simultaneously creamy and refreshing, and Wolfies is one of the only Long Island shops that makes it.
Itgen's, Valley Stream: Itgen's serves what many consider to be Long Island's best hot fudge. It's deep, dark and not too sweet, and, as is proper for hot fudge, it solidifies upon contact with ice cream. Purists will get this sundae with vanilla ice cream; chocoholics choose chocolate. No matter the flavor, wet nuts are a fitting adornment.
Krisch's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour
Krisch's Restaurant & 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.
International Delight Cafe
International Delight Cafe, Bellmore: 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. Other location in Rockville Centre.
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. The waffle bowl sundae (pictured) is severed in the bowl-shaped equivalent of a waffle cone.
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.
Northport Sweet Shop
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 and a sundae with divine hot fudge (pictured).
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.
Hicksville Sweet Shop
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.
McNulty's Ice Cream Parlor
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.
Five Pennies Creamery
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.