Some people look for the buds on the trees. For others, it's the blooming of daffodils and tulips. I know it’s spring when it’s finally warm enough to enjoy an ice cream cone outside. Long Island has dozens of ice cream parlors; here are three of the newest:
Mia’s Ice Cream Kitchen
1245 Middle Country Rd., Selden, 631-846-6452, miasicecreamkitchen.square.site
Rich Lombardi’s new ice cream shop is named for his daughter, Mia, but the word “kitchen” holds almost as much significance. “I make the ice cream right behind the counter — where everyone can watch,” he said. “At home, everyone winds up the kitchen, and that’s how I want people to feel here.”
When Lombardi first decided to open his shop, he figured he’d bring in the ice cream from a reputable producer. Then he fell down the ice-cream-making rabbit hole and discovered that it provided a perfect outlet for his creativity. Among his signature flavors are honey-sweetened Lavender Sky, All Jacked Up (spiked with Jack Daniel’s and Coke), suave Bananas Foster and two chocolates, one moderately dark that’s punctuated with chocolate chips, the other, Grandma’s Chocolate, that’s dark and dense as gelato. SCPD, a tribute to the Suffolk County Police Department, boasts coffee and doughnuts. The South Asian population around Selden is acknowledged with Rose-Pistachio, Orange-Cardamom, Kulfi and a sultry Spicy Mango that finishes with a hot-pepper kick.
No detail is overlooked here: waffle cones are made fresh; if you order two scoops with sprinkles, both the bottom and top scoop will get sprinkled. Fill up your loyalty card with 10 punches and you’ll get a chance to spin a roulette wheel that might award you a cup, a cone, or free ice cream every week for a year.
3286 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside, 516-286-0077, frozenside.business.site
Charlie Mattina has been an ice-cream man since before he was a man. His father owned multiple Carvels and, by age 13, he was scooping hard ice cream and pulling soft-serve twists. In 1992 his family took over a Carvel that had already been serving Oceanside for 45 years but, four years ago, he decided to throw off the national chain’s yoke and go his own way with his own formulas and his own ingredients.
Mattina is justly proud of his strawberry and banana ice creams, for which he uses fresh fruit — not fruit flavoring. And he ups the ante by adding a vein of dark chocolate crumbs to his rich banana to make a decadent banana fudge crunch. His high-test coffee gets the same treatment and emerges as coffee fudge crunch, a mocha-lover’s dream. Old-timers will enjoy a textbook cherry vanilla (made with Bordeaux cherries) and vegans can avail themselves of not only hard but soft-serve flavors made with almond milk.
Frozenside’s Carvel DNA is evident in the classic chocolate-vanilla soft-serve twists (with or without a chocolate bonnet) and the ice-cream cakes that are available custom-decorated or, for last-minute occasions, blank. It’s an expansive shop, with outdoor seating and an enviably large parking lot.
370 Lake Ave., St. James, 631-594-4032, mickeys-icecream.com
Mickey’s is as much about community as it is about ice cream. The generous proportions of its retro-modern building, its old-fashioned porch and garden with picnic tables — it’s all about encouraging people to come together to enjoy ice cream. There’s plenty of room for birthday parties and you can even get a party to go: a couple of pints plus a tray of sauces and toppings.
Mickey’s is the brainchild of St. James resident Brendon Fleming, who named it after his late grandfather, Mickey Fleming, a town resident from 1952 until his death fifty years later. He was also inspired by trips to Warwick, New York, where everyone seems to congregate at the Bellvale Farms ice cream shop. Fleming and his partner, Joseph Militello, both have decades of experience in retail and e-commerce and it shows: Everything — from the signage to the labels on the pints to the tees and hoodies — is smartly branded.
Mickey’s ice cream is manufactured locally and, in addition to more than 20 flavors, there are always a few oat-milk-based vegan options that are served with dedicated vegan scoops.