EDDIE‘S SWEET SHOP
105-29 Metropolitan Avenue
EDDIES SWEET SHOP is a Forest Hills institution. Just ask my Dad, he’s one, too. (And it’s not the only thing they’ve shared these many many years – not by a long shot.) Anyway, if you’re looking for something with old world charm – the kind of counter where soda jerks once used to ply their trade, where milk shakes came with that steel shaker alongside for the remainders – then EDDIE’S SWEET SHOP is one of the best places to satisfy said nostalgia. Decorated with old wood, tin ceiling panels, a marble- topped counter, old cabinet-style refrigerators, etc., EDDIE’S retains the atmosphere of a simpler, time. Don’t expect too much of a variety of wild and crazy flavors here, this is definitely a stick-to-the-basics kind of establishment – peach, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, etc. They make their own ice cream here, of course, and actually hand-whip their cream (which makes it eight times more dense than spray cream). Even their toppings and syrups have that old-fashioned quality to them. Best of all, ice cream here is served in footed metal dishes, the assumption being (and a correct one at that) that you’ll be lingering here a while. Some of our favorites at EDDIE’S are the Marshmallow Sundae, the Hot Fudge Sundae, and the Banana Split, just to name a few. But the most welcome part of all this? Despite the fact that it’s more than 100 years since ice cream’s Golden Age, you will still wind up paying only about $5 per person, depending upon what you order. Now how’s that for a trip down memory lane?
FORTUNATO BROS. PASTICCERIA
289 Manhattan Avenue
Because their pastry is among the finest in the city, the gelati here sometime get overlooked, but all you have to do is roll your tongue around the names of some of the fantastic flavors here, and you’re going to get a hankering for ice cream the likes of which you’ve probably not experienced in quite a while. Bacio. Tiramisu. Nocciola. Zuppa Inglese. Stracciatella. The gelato at FORTUNATO’S is always fresh, and always exquisitely creamy. The reason? With such a constant day-in day-out clientele thanks to the hustle and bustle of present-day Williamsburg, no tub of ice cream is ever left sitting for very long. In fact, none of them ever even make it through the day without needing to be replenished! Now that’s probably the best advertising of all, no? Anyway, now that summer is finally here, FORTUNATO’S is the perfect place to go to satisfy your craving, and we can’t think of better tree-lined streets than Devoe or Ainslie or Manhattan to do your evening perambulating, all the while making sure to keep your ice cream cone from dripping down on the sidewalk. Because otherwise, you just might have to go back and get another one, and what a terrible shame that would be!
67-01 Forest Avenue
Just a stone’s throw from the elevated M train stop on Forest Avenue, you cannot miss this delightful little hideaway. A sweet spot indeed, this corner shop’s bright red awning will catch your eye immediately and draw you in oh-so-willingly. We’re talking old-time classical ice cream parlor experience here, complete with red and white checked tablecloths and those ornate little wrought iron chairs and tables outside. It took four of us to sample the wide variety of Hershey’s Ice Cream offerings from SWEET SPOT, each one an even more exquisitely delightful taste treat than the one before. Make sure you go for the gold here – the Premium Gold, that is – flavors like the Cappuccino Crunch, Strawberry Fields, Road Runner Raspberry, and our absolute fave, Banana Pudding! Making the SWEET SPOT Ridgewood’s go-to ice cream destination is the result of a lot of hard work and friendly service with a smile on the part of people like Joe, Steve, Danielle, Samantha, etc., so if you do right by them, we guarantee you’re going to get a little extra special attention as they ensure that one of their old-fashioned Egg Creams, or their extra-thick Milk Shakes, or their splendiferous Banana Splits, is made exactly the way you like it. (By the way, they’ve also got a booth at The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Williamsburg, so make sure you check that out, too!)
64-54 Dry Harbor Road
TIRAMISU CAFÉ may be one of the most inviting establishments around, whether you’re here for some ice cream, some coffee and pastry, or one of their delicious panini. Co-owners Anthony Gucciardo and Danny O’Connor, both incredibly people-oriented, take a lot of pride in the fact that their establishment is one which appeals to patrons of all ages within the community: senior citizens out for a stroll, a young couple on their first date, a big family with a whole mess of kids. Most often, the friendly face that greets you will be that of Dagmara aka “Mara,” although there are a whole host of lovelies who make TIRAMISU such a friendly and welcoming place, day or night. And as for the ice cream? Well, the ice cream here is hands down some of the best you’re ever going to taste. It’s unbelievably creamy in texture and bold tasty flavors really stand out here like their Rum Raisin, or their Cookie Dough, or their Cappuccino Crunch, one of our personal favorites. (And by the way, when the ice cream is this good, you know that means that their shakes are, too, right? Hint, hint…) Anyway, last but not least, as good as all the gelati is here, they also do this one thing absolutely perfectly at TIRAMISU, and it knocks us out every time we try it. That, my friends is a little something called the Gelato en briosce, which to call it “ice cream in a roll,” well that just ain’t gonna do it justice now, is it? Anyway, what’s that expression? – try it, you’ll like it! (And fill it with Hazelnut by the way, just in case you were looking for a recommendation.)
Kew Gardens Hills/Flushing
MAX & MINA’S
71-26 Main Street
Here at “BEST OF THE BEST,” we just absolutely love the whole idea behind MAX & MINA’S Home Made Ice Cream, where flavor is king, and no flavor is unattainable or out of reach. This is absolutely some of the best ice cream we’ve had in quite a while, and at the same time, some of the most inventive and playful too, bar none. Sure, their Vanilla and their Dark Chocolate are going to wow you, as are their Coffee Cupcake or Coffee Babka – it’s like having your coffee’n’cake together in one bite! – but if you’re the adventurous sort, there’s also a whole host of savory flavors waiting for you that might not seem like ice cream flavors to you at first but boy-oh-boy have you got to try ‘em! Remember that notion Willy Wonka had with his aptly-named “three-course meal gum”? Well, entrepreneurs Bruce and Mark Becker seem to have improved upon The Candy Man himself, and have managed to do something just as unbelievable in crafting deliciously sweet ice cream flavors out of taste sensations like horseradish, garlic, corn on the cob, and their immeasurably popular Nova Lox ice cream. Mere words cannot do justice to the way said flavors work their magic on the cozy shop’s ever-growing clientele, but suffice it to say, with regard to the fact that fans of MAX & MINA’S (also available at Bloomingdale’s and The Food Emporium) range from Mayor Bloomberg, Dylan Lauren (“Dylan’s Candy Bar”) and Q104’s Maria Milito to the elderly couple stopping by on a Tuesday morning (“We had no idea you were here!) – once you’ve tried MAX & MINA’S, you are absolutely hooked. We certainly are!
UNCLE LOUIE G’s
72-23 Austin Street
You might not think to wander into this cozy little ice cream shop amid the hustle and bustle of Austin Street. But you’d really be missing out then. There is everything to like about the Forest Hills version of UNCLE LOUIE G’s, even the trademark blue and white checkerboard floor tiles are going to make you smile. In all honestly, this is one of the best establishments we’ve encountered to make use of a multitude of tiny tasting spoons and Peter – your proprietor and host – is unsparingly generous in helping his customers find a flavor to their liking, whether that flavor is something like the rather tasty Strawberry Fields, or the decidedly home-y Apple Pie. In fact, one of our favorite things about UNCLE LOUIE G’s, and one of the things they do best here, is this… any ice cream flavor that would make a good cake or a pie, they’ve got it! Harvest Pumpkin Pie? Yep! Brooklyn Cheesecake? Yep! They’ve even got a flavor called Birthday Cake that tastes like – you guessed it – Birthday Cake! (And by the way, if it happens to be your birthday that day, you get a free one.) Everything here at UNCLE LOUIE G’s tastes fresh and natural – and flavors stand out in a way few other ice creams can claim. You might also want to try out some of their delicious cream ices, equally inventive and flavorful. For example, there’s Holi Cannoli and P.B. Butter, just to name a few. But hey, don’t take our word for it, make sure you check this place out yourself!
49-07 104th Street
We can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon than to talk frozen custard with husband and wife Timmy and Rita O’Leary inside their cozy and bright Corona custard shoppe, located on the former site of a popular neighborhood candy store. (And we are so grateful to loyal reader Rosemarie DiCristo for pointing the place out to us!) Timmy O’Leary (Timmy O), a former IT manager for JP Morgan Chase, took a life-long passion for ice cream and went out and did something about it – he traveled to the Mid-West to study it in depth, at the Frozen Dessert Institute in St. Louis no less, and now brings back to Queens not just passion, but some impressive expertise, with regard to the classic Mid-Western-style frozen custard (especially their “Concretes,” which combine the custard with an assortment of delicious toppings). In fact, one of the reasons TIMMY O’s Vanilla is so memorable – it’s made from the very best of ingredients you can find, a Madagascar Vanilla blend made expressly to his specifications by renowned distributor Lochhead, just outside of St. Louis. Just another of the sure signs that O’Leary is not going to skimp on making his creations as authentic and as delicious as they possibly could be. In true Mid-Western style, they keep it simple here at TIMMY O’s – Vanilla, Chocolate and a Flavor of the Day. But, oh that Flavor of the Day!, which can run anywhere from Dulce de Leche or Death by Chocolate to Peanut Butter, Blueberry Pie, and one of our absolute favorites, Coconut Cream Pie (for which they even mix in a little honest-to-goodness pie crust!). Hey, if you’re looking for a little slice of heaven mere blocks from Citi Field, and you don’t feel like paying Shake Shack prices (or waiting on Shake Shack lines), make sure you dip into one of TIMMY O’s classic “Concretes” at some point. Because once you do, we’re pretty confident you’ll be back again and again.
55-01 69th Street
(718) 205-ICES (4237)
We’re big fans of ISABELLA’S here, especially now that you can enjoy your ice cream and ices outside underneath those Sabrett Hot Dog umbrellas. Because the ice cream moves pretty briskly here, it always tastes fresh, and it’s why traditional flavors like Vanilla and Chocolate have a little bit of that old-fashioned purity to them, and also why some of our faves like Maple Walnut and Cookies & Cream and Strawberry Cheesecake really grab your attention the moment they hit your tongue. A recommendation please, especially for any kids among us – make sure you check out some of the newest offerings here like Circus, or Pumpkin, or Cake Batter. They’re truly some of the most scrumptious and memorably tasty ice cream flavors around. The Circus especially – it almost tastes like cotton candy! Which is all too fitting, actually, because ISABELLA’S just celebrated their first anniversary this past weekend with a grand carnival-like party for all our community’s young people. Even Sponge Bob dropped by! (By the way, they make really terrific Egg Creams and Shakes at ISABELLA’S, too, which pretty much gives them a leg up on just about anyone else, after just one year in operation, because they are now a true “corner store” in the tradition of so many Brooklyn-Queens neighborhoods we’ve come to know and love, and definitely Maspeth’s go-to destination when it comes to good ice cream.)
BROOKLYN ICE CREAM FACTORY
97 Commercial Street
We’ve long been aficionados of the considerable pleasures of Mark Thompson’s BROOKLYN ICE CREAM FACTORY, ever since he first opened up ‘neath the Brooklyn Bridge in a Fulton Ferry fireboat house, just a stone’s throw from Grimaldi’s and the River Café. But what you might not know is that Thompson’s got a Greenpoint outpost as well, where the same savory perfectionism he developed apprenticing at Pennsylvania’s Martoni’s back in the day is now brought to bear upon the same fresh and natural ingredients he works with at the northernmost tip of Greenpoint. Yes, the Vanilla and Chocolate will stand out as creamy and fresh here, no question – but in our humble opinion, no one does fruit better than the BROOKLYN ICE CREAM FACTORY (probably because Thompson uses only fresh fruit, purchased directly from the farm), and we couldn’t have been more pleased with a recent visit’s sampling of both Peaches & Cream and Strawberry. While the Greenpoint version of the shop admittedly may lack some of the ambience of their flagship location, the brick walls, ceiling fans, and rattan chairs definitely combine to give this second locale a similar “old-fashioned ice cream parlor” feeling (as does the CBS 101.1 FM playing overhead). And for even more of that old-time feeling, you are hereby advised to try a bottle of VIRGIL’S Micro Brewed Root Beer as well. (Or better yet, a Root Beer Float!) Now, that certainly ought to bring back some memories too, especially for life-long Brooklynites. (FYI, the BROOKLYN ICE CREAM FACTORY’S aformentioned main location is at 1 Water Street, just under the Brooklyn Bridge, (718) 246-3963.)
IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFÉ
22-26 31st Street
Right near one of the most spacious intersections in Astoria (Ditmars and 31st ) is one of the friendliest, cleanest, brightest, and most charming little cafes or coffee shops you will ever encounter. That’s because the Panagiotopolous Family, who live around the corner, figured out long ago that personal service and attention to detail are the keys to any successful neighborhood enterprise. Eight years later now, despite a tough economy, this particular establishment is still going strong, which is definitely saying something. It’s called the IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFÉ because ice cream was the genesis of the family operation here, with sandwiches, breakfast, etc. added to the menu later (by popular demand, actually). Ah, but the ice cream – how sweet it is! Where IGLOO excels are their Sedutto Premium Ice Cream Sundaes, featuring flavor combinations like Strawberry, Vanilla, Pistachio and Hot Fudge (their Acapulco Sundae) and an off-the-charts Cookie Supreme Sundae (2 scoops of Cookies ‘n’ Cream, 1 scoop of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Whipped Cream, Oreo Cookie Bits, Hot Fudge, Walnuts, and more!) Understandably, the Shakes and Floats here are delicious as well, as are their highly coveted Smoothies. (We loved the Pomegranate, Strawberry, and Banana but the “Three-Way Melon” and that “Last Mango In Paris” sure did pique our interest, too!) Anyway, it should definitely be pointed out that IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFÉ is far more than just an ice cream shoppe – they also serve excellent Paninis, Wraps, Burgers, Salads, etc. and do a fantastic breakfast and weekend brunch business thanks especially to their light and fluffy pancakes and unforgettable waffles. (Which, by the way, if you ask us – that’s how we’re going to be sampling our ice cream next time, with a couple of scoops on top of those delectable golden brown waffles!)