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Manhattan Ice Cream Parlors


Jason Perlow
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At a local diner this evening I overheard a couple talking about ice cream parlor experiences from years ago, and it occured to me that as a cultural icon it has largely disappeared from New York City.

Other than Serendipity, anyone know of other major ice cream parlors in Manhattan? Peppermint Park closed years ago. I seem to recall another one in the Village, and Ferrara's in Little Italy somewhat fills that mold but not exactly. Ben and Jerrys and Haagen Daz doesnt count, sorry.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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I dont know about actual parlors outside of Serendipity (which you mentioned) but there are still a number of good places to get ice cream in New York.  My favorite is Cones on Bleecker St.  They make all of their ice cream by hand which allows them the flexibility to have some fancy flavors like a champagne flavor (made with Dom Perignon ~ and yes you pay extra for the bubbley).  It is a little pricey but what would you expect from self proclaimed "Ice Cream Artisans".

For sit down places many dessert cafes have ice cream, like Cafe Lalo, but if youre going there you might as well get one of their great torts or cheesecakes. Hey maybe you can ask for a scoop of ice cream on the side.

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Jason,

What sort of ice cream parlor experience are you looking for?

If you want good ice cream, the only place I would recommend is Boston transplant Emack & Bolio's. There are two in the city, 56 7th Avenue and 389 Amsterdam Avenue.

Boston, whence I hail, is a real ice cream town. Premium and mix-ins have been there since the 70's at least. My parents used to take us the the original Steve's in Somerville, when Steve Herrell still owned it. The original Emack & Bolio's is in a brownstone on Newbury St. in Boston. There is also one near Harvard Sq. in Cambridge. I bought some ice cream at the one on Amsterdam a few years ago and it was very good.

BTW, Emack and Bolio are the names of the founders' lawyers.

If you're looking for a "traditional" ice cream parlor, I wouldn't know where in the city to send you. Other than Serendipity.

Good luck and good licking,

Adam

P.S. They're called jimmies, not sprinkles.

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abbeynormal,

Slightly off-topic since we are focusing on Manhattan Ice Cream Parlors here. However you mention Boston as a great ice cream town & specifically about mix-ins(& premium ice cream).  I really enjoyed the mix-ins ice cream, at my last trip to Boston at a Steve's ice cream location(sometime in the early 90's). Is it unique to the Boston market? In my limited travels in North America I haven't seen mix-ins anywhere else. It can be argued that Dairy Queen makes a version of mix-in, but that's not what I'm looking for.

Steve

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I was suggesting a New York outpost of a Boston ice creamery.

Now for the snob in me: I didn't know what the DQ served was ice cream. How about a brassiere burger? I think Baskin-Robbins does mix-ins now.

There are (or were) a lot of ice cream parlors in Mass. that did mix-ins in Mass., I was under the impression this practice had spread round the country.

Adam

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Steve Herrell, the founder of Steve's, sold out of the business around 1980 and started the Herrell's chain, which has "Smoosh-Ins" (same as Mix-Ins). I believe Herrell's is only in Massachusetts right now. There was a time when Steve's had franchises in New York City and elsewhere, but the ice cream business isn't what it used to be. As for mix-ins elsewhere, it's not something I've seen -- but I imagine there must be somebody out there doing it. I also don't like what it does to the texture of the ice cream.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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To each his own. I don't usually get mix-ins myself. I think Steve sold out before they went national. I don't know if Steve's is still available in stores.

Steven: have you tried Emack & Bolio's? If you're looking for something special in ice cream in NYC, I think one has to stick with gelato. Of course, there's nothing like a Mr. Softee on a hot day.  

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"...., but the ice cream business isn't what is used to be."

Steven, are you refering just to the New York City market or the ice cream market in general? No question the dynamics of running an ice cream shop in hot climate places like Los Angeles, are totally different than in NYC. During the late fall & winters, it must be tough to generate substantial business compared to the warm months, for New York ice cream shops. Some of the these places I suspect only open during the spring & summer months.

Steve

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No question the dynamics of running an ice cream shop in hot climate places like Los Angeles, are totally different than in NYC.
There are even greater differences between the US and France apparently, as Bertillon, the famous Parisian ice cream parlor, closes for vacation the month of August.

Robert Buxbaum

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Re: Mix Ins:  Thomas Sweets in Princeton has been doing them since the mid 80's.

Re: NYC Suggestions:  I am a big fan of Cioo Bella.  They have a branch in the Village and on 92nd and Madison.

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Yes, I do believe old-style ice cream parlors are part of nostalgic New York. I remember when I was very very young there was a terrific ice cream parlor around Grand Street called Marchiones. Then there was Jahn's ice cream parlors in, I believe but memory is fuzzy, Queens and the Bronx. Also Rumplemayer's on Central Park South. These were ice cream parlors where just the photos on the menus of sundaes, banana splits and other extravaganzas made you want to order one of everything.

Serendipity is left and a pricey cafe that serves gelato and pastries on Madison Avenue near the Met. Sorry, I can't remember the name. But at least you can sit down and relax instead of eating a cone on the run.

What happened? I guess the high rents are too prohibitive to just sell ice cream unless you're a big chain. People also changed and are more diet conscious but I do miss those fun parlors. There was something so pure and 'innocent' about sitting in a comfy booth in a sweet room that usually was very white and pristine, with a soda fountain, lots of real Coca-Cola posters, and sharing ice cream with your loved one.

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I think the one on Madison is Sant Ambroeus, 1000 Madison between 78th and 77th.  Superb gelato, very upscale (hoigty toity?) atmosphere that I love but definitely in keeping with the neighborhood.

Best for gelato in NYC that I know of.

beachfan

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