So by definition, an “artisan” food or drink is made in a traditional way using high-quality, fresh ingredients. But as demands increase, it has become incredibly challenging to create food products entirely from scratch and we’ve gradually moved towards mechanization, standardization, and basically using low-cost, long-lasting food ingredients. And this is no exception for America’s most love dessert – ice cream.
However, here are 16 ice cream shops in NYC that have stayed true to its roots, using the best, locally-sourced ingredients possible and specialized techniques to create ice cream that is all natural and exceptionally delicious at the same time. No preservatives or additives, just pure respect and appreciation for the distinct, fresh flavors of premium ingredients.
Who knew you could even feel good eating your ice cream?
What began as a mere summer experiment has now received a whirlwind of publicity and grown into one of the city’s most infamous ice cream powerhouses. Having been featured countlessly in numerous domestic and international publications such as Dessert Professional, Food Network, The Daily Beast and USA Today, Big Gay Ice Cream playfully combines the old-school vanilla and chocolate soft serve with a myriad of unique toppings and whimsical flavor combinations, resulting in novel and decadent frozen treats with insane, yet interesting, product names.
Made with Ronnybrook dairy from upstate NY, their soft serve is rich, creamy and buttery. When paired with a touch of salt and topped with in-house made toppings, the natural sweetness of the soft serve immediately punches through, resulting in simply an unforgettable and addictive experience.
2. A.B. Biagi
What makes A.B. Biagi special is that it ain’t your typical Italian gelato and sorbet shop. Instead, it combines traditional Italian gelato making with a taste of Brazil by using a wide range of tropical fruits. Additionally, the delicious treats here are made with farm fresh milk from upstate New York and organic sugar from Brazil. Gelato is spun in a traditional vertical batch freezer, the Cattabriga EFFE, the first of its kind in NYC.
From the traditional Nocciola Gelato to the smooth, light and refreshing Brazilian Acai Berry Sorbet rich and luscious Goat Cheese, Orange Peel & Anis Gelato, A.B. Biagi is sure to offer you an experience like none other.
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato Del Gelato was born with the idea of being a custom kitchen or “laboratory”, where chefs and caterers are welcomed to create their very own ice cream flavors for their individual menus. This explains why the first thing you notice when you walk into this small retail café will be its expansive window into an open kitchen. Here, ice cream is hand-made in small batches, using organic, natural ingredients sourced both locally and from all over the world.
Started out as merely a yellow ice cream truck back in 2008, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream has since sprouted to become the one of the city’s most popular ice cream emporium. Their philosophy is old school and simple, that is to use not only traditional ice cream making techniques but also the finest, all natural ingredients from the best artisan producers and farmers around the world.
What this means is that there is an ice cream flavor for every palate and for every season. From classic flavors to a whole range of vegan selections and eclectic creations such as Toasted Coconut Coconut Cake Ice Cream and Sichuan Peppercorn with Cherry Compote, Van Leeuwen serves up ice cream that is rich, decadent and just naturally perfect.
Inspired by the tradition of Anatolian dondurma, Victory Garden makes their soft serve using fresh goat milk sourced locally from Side Hill Acres in Candor, New York. At this farm, sustainable farming is practice and goats are raised on fresh hay and grass without any prophylactic antibiotics or hormones. The resulting frozen treat is bright, simultaneously sweet and tangy, healthier, and lactose-free as well.
Soft serve flavors and innovative sundae creations are rotated according to the season, many of which notably follow the Middle Eastern tradition where floral essences are incorporated to “please the palate and elevate one’s state of the mind”.
L’Arte del Gelato is born out of a fervent passion to recreate the authentic Italian gelato experience here in the big apple. The owners took the time to travel from Venice to Sicily to meet the best gelato craftsmen and to learn the secrets of making gelato. Gelato here is made using only the finest, natural ingredients resulting in a treat that is fresh and absent of additives, rich in taste, and full-bodied.
Using only certified organic dairy sourced from pasture-raised cows and high-quality ingredients that have been carefully selected, Blue Marble Ice Cream describes itself as an “Earth-friendly eatery”. Flavors are classic, pure and “elemental” as they call it, using low amounts of sugar and preservatives, and allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves instead. What’s more, their plant located in the heart of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is NYC’s only certified organic ice cream plant.
8. Ice & Vice
Winner of the 2014 Vendy Awards Ice & Vice is an experimental ice cream shop that churns up original array of flavors and combinations. No, you won’t find your traditional scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream. But what you’ll find are ridiculous, yet scrumptious, flavors such as Nuts of Wrath made of Marcona almonds and grape Kool-Aid jam, and Three Little Pigs, that is salted caramel ice cream with bacon butter and bacon praline (Yes more bacon please).
Where else could you get any more excited than with an ice cream shop that serves up quality and vice with every scoop?
OddsFellows Ice Cream pasteurizes their own ice cream base in their very own kitchen, using locally sourced, hormone-free and additive-free dairy. This results in a distinctive, creamy texture, and allows them to add more depth to their scrumptious flavors that range from whimsical interpretations of the classics to the bizarre yet delectable inventions.
Think about absurd, yet unusually delicious flavor combinations such as Miso Cherry ice cream and Grapefruit Jalapeno sorbet, and over-the-top sundaes that incorporate an array of house-made toppings. Ice creams are made fresh every three days and flavors are often rotated. But regardless the day of your visit, you will always be promised a mind-blowing experience.
This shop has been around since 1991. But even after two decades, they’ve continued to reinvent the concept of homemade ice cream, offering premium quality ice cream delicately churned and infused with fresh, distinct ingredients. On top of striking flavors such as Wasabi, Ginger and Corn, Sundaes and Cones is also notorious for being extremely generous with their serving sizes.
Ample Hills Creamery owner Brian Smith was a science fiction movie writer turned ice cream maker. That transition probably turned out to be one of the best decisions made on earth, ever, because this ice cream parlor, regardless of its location, is always mobbed with enthusiastic children and adults alike. Making their entire ice cream custard base from scratch using local, organic, hormone-free ingredients, Ample Hills Creamery constantly creates unconventional, yet ingenious concoctions that incorporate a playful variety of mix-ins including gooey butter cake, pretzels and bacon.
They churn out countless seasonal flavors regularly, but the one most addictive flavor has got to be the Salted Crack Caramel that features salted butter caramel ice cream combined with a generous handful of saltine crackers coated with butter, sugar and chocolate. Every bite is absolutely divine – you get both sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy.
Graphic designer-turned-ice cream maker David Yoo is the mastermind behind everything about this remarkable ice cream shop, – the inventions, accounting, marketing and graphics – and that in itself is an inspirational and astonishing fact. He showcases his creativity and perfection by making both darn good classics and original specials. Ice cream here is made from raw ingredients, including using cream from Battenkill Creamery, and contains only 10% to 13% of sugar, significantly lower than the average value of about 25%.
Popular flavors include Cookies & Cream that uses real Oreos crushed up into chunks of the right size and Strong Coffee that uses Birch Coffee. There are also seasonal flavors which David Yoo eventually hope will be a “cohesive collection of flavors”.
13. Gelato Ti Amo
Gelato Ti Amo in NYC is a franchise company from Arrezo, Italy. What that usually means is that there is a higher chance of it being more commercialized, more mass production, less authentic, less original etc. However, this Italian import ensures that it stays true to its roots by ensuring that all its production, that is everything till right before the creaming process, is made exclusively right in its workshop in Arezzo. The resulting product is that packaged and shipped under specific conditions to individual ice cream parlors, where the creaming process will then take place.
All ingredients are sourced all over Italy. For example, milk comes from Tuscany, lemons come from Naples and pistachio comes from Sicily. The result is a little taste of Italy taste of Italy right here in the financial district of NYC.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has been serving up America’s favorite dessert with a unique Asian twist for over 28 years. Until today, it is still a family-run operation and is often referred to as an unofficial landmark in Chinatown.
Here, unadulterated Asian flavours shine proudly. After all, where else can you find an ice cream shop in this big apple that offers delectable treats with such heavy emphasis on the flavors of the Far East?
15. Tipsy Scoop
Ice cream making runs in the blood of Tipsy Scoop owner Melissa Tayss. In fact, her great, great, great grandfather was probably one of the first to bring ice cream from his small mountaintop town of Picinisco, Italy, to Glasgow, Scotland in the 1800s. But Melissa has taken this idea of ice cream to a whole new level by blending artisanal, hand-crafted ice cream and with liquor and other perfectly mixed cocktail concoctions – which thus explains the brand name.
We’re talking about real booze – Red velvet ice cream infused with cake vodka, crème de cacao and cherry liquor and Chocolate ice cream mixed together with crunchy salty pretzels and infused with Brooklyn Brewery’s stout. This is one perfect way to get high, without getting too high.
Having worked in some of the best kitchens in the country, Nick Morgenstern brings his skills and intellectual knowledge in classic pastry to this retro-looking ice cream parlor. In addition to being eggless, the ice cream here is known for its lower butterfat and sugar content, resulting in intensified tastes and flavors.
There is an extensive range of unconventional, avant-garde flavors such as Fernet Black Walnut, Green Tea Pistachio, Durian Banana and five different types of chocolate flavors, – every scoop here embodies an experimental spirit and creative intelligence. Morgenstern’s also collaborates with other renowned chefs to offer equally decadent sundae creations.