By Samantha Garbarini and Michelle Gillan Larkin
Whether your go-to flavor is vanilla, chocolate (we love both), or something less traditional (e.g., Italian rainbow cookie), nothing brings out smiles like ice cream. (And nothing makes a bigger smile on an editor’s face than having the privilege of an ice cream named after him; see Penny Lick write-up below). Here’s the scoop on the top ice cream shops to get your 914 licks on.
4 Elm Place, Rye
1941 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont
With a booming wholesale biz and a pair of always-bustling storefronts, this Sound Shore institution keeps it real with small-batch, handmade ice cream born from cream, cane sugar, imported vanilla, and rich cocoas. Three dozen flavors grace the case any given day, with the tongue-staining Cookie Monster (it’s blue and always big with the littles) not to be outdone. A brand-new flavor is “Brookies n’ Cream,” sweet cream vanilla ice cream lusciously swirled with cookies and brownies. Summery Georgia Peach and Lemon Pie boast fresh fruit, while vegan offerings in Larchmont (and sometimes Rye) come in Oreo and chocolate. Longford’s will continue to have outdoor seating for the entirety of summer, so cone-enthusiasts can at least sit down while their shirts are slowly soaked with fast-melting ice cream on hot, sunny afternoons.
Extra Scoop: Transform your treat by packing ice cream into a glazed donut and topping it with whatever your little sweet tooth desires. Pints, cakes, and specialty shakes are also available and widely sought-after.
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32 Broadway, Valhalla
On the main drag, in a petite dwelling that once housed the old library, ex-fireman John Caldorola churns all-natural, wildly inventive flavors to the tune of 30 per day. His crowning achievement is Cookie Monster Meets Peanut Butter Cup: vanilla with (better sit down) chocolate chips, Oreos, cookie dough, brownies, and peanut butter cups.
Bananas Foster and Let’s Do Brunch (maple ice cream with bacon and French-toast bits) are the rage with regulars who also line up for seasonal eggnog, delicately minty candy cane, and pumpkin pie flavors. Ice cream pizza takes cake to another level, and edible cookie dough, crêpes, açai bowls, Italian ices, and penny candy are available if, somehow, a scoop of Holy Cannoli won’t cut it.
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33 N. Main Street, Port Chester
350 Mamaroneck Avenue, Mamaroneck
You can get ice cream here, but the real reason to visit is for the paletas, made in the same traditional style that founder Florencio Fernández Samaniego learned in Tocumbo Michoacán, Mexico. The very first paleterias opened in this region of Mexico back in the 1940s, so this place is pretty much as authentic as it gets. Paletas (which will only set you back a cool $2.50) come in more than 40 milky and fruity varieties, many of which are dairy-free.
Options run the gamut from coconut, strawberries and cream, mint chocolate chip, and Nutella to Key lime, watermelon, and passionfruit. But the fun of coming here is to try some of the authentically Mexican flavors you won’t find in your American popsicle box, like hibiscus, tamarind, pineapple-chamoy, spicy chili-mango, guava, and even avocado. Other offerings include fresh fruit bags topped with salt, lime, and chili, “Chamango” slushies, and milkshakes that can be made with any of the popsicle or ice cream flavors.
1282 North Avenue, New Rochelle
Frozen custard has a rich history (and a rich taste), starting in Coney Island in 1919 and spreading to the Midwest in the 1930s. At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, frozen custard was first exposed to a large audience, and would go on to become wildly popular in places like Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Inspired by a visit to Chicago, where he first came to love the treat, New Rochelle resident Michael Weissman found himself wondering why frozen custard was no longer popular in the New York metropolitan area. So, he did something drastic: Weissman left his 35-year career trading commodities and enrolled in Scoop School in St. Louis (yes, it’s a thing).
The result is Mikey Dubb’s, Westchester’s only shop dedicated to the creamy, dense, egg-yolk-enriched treat. Unsurprisingly for an old-school staple, vanilla and chocolate are the most popular flavors, but you’ll also find mint-Oreo, blueberry cobbler, and Fluffernutter (peanut butter with ribbons of marshmallow), among others, on the menu for scooping straight or blending with toppings to make a thick sundae called a concrete. The upcoming flavors are always posted on the website’s flavor calendar.
408 East Sandford Boulevard, Mount Vernon
The family that owns and operates this bastion of thrillingly exotic, mostly fruit-based offerings started out as a family-run Carvel franchise in 1954 before pivoting in 1978 to making the sweet stuff themselves. Out of the gate, they dreamed up 50 gourmet creations, half of which were Caribbean flavors, like Grapenutt (yes, the toasty cereal!), Jamaican rum raisin, and soursop, a nutrient-dense fruit that resembles a watermelon, tastes like a pineapple, is high in fiber and vitamin C, and low in calories.
Of the 60-plus flavors on the menu daily, some are sugar-free, some soy-based, and all go well with fresh fruit toppings, though the typical sweet and sticky options are there for the asking.
3 Prudy Ave, Rye
The address may be Rye (with an original location in Greenwich), but La Fenice feels as if it’s been plucked straight from Italy. That’s because owner Simona Silvestri and her husband, gelato maker Salvatore Scuro, both natives of Lecce in Italy’s Puglia region, stick to Old World techniques, using organic milk from local farms and carefully sourced ingredients to make traditional gelato, including chocolate-flecked stracciatella, pistachio, and gianduia (plus, some American flavors, like salted caramel and mint chip).
Rounding out the experience are refreshing, fruity granitas; delicious Italian coffee (affogato, anyone?); and pastries like you’d find in il bel paese, from sfogliatelle and cornetti to boxes of biscotti.
35 Main Street, Tarrytown
A self-proclaimed “sucker for a homemade ice-cream shop,” Marlaina Bertolacci would stop at every one she stumbled upon before opening her own with her mother and sister. Twenty years later, this women-owned, extended-family-run haven of heaven-in-a-cone hosts 30 flavors of premium ice cream daily.
“Premium means higher butter fat, which is pricier but creamier,” explains Bertolacci. Frontrunners in the fave department are Main Street Special (coffee, chocolate chunks, and fudge) and Devon’s Dream: vanilla with white chocolate chunks, chocolate almonds, Heath Bar, and Reese’s Pieces.
Coconut-milk matcha and chocolate are popular vegan picks, and there’s a staggering array of homemade waffle cones that are colorful, gluten-free, or taste of red velvet or birthday cake.
121 Maple Street, Croton-on-Hudson
At Lisa Moir’s certified-green ice cream shop, thoughtful sourcing is the secret to excellent ice cream. Dairy comes only from not-for-profit cooperative Hudson Valley Fresh; fruit and herbs, some of which are grown on-site, are locally sourced; and Hudson Valley producers show up in flavors like Black Cow mocha and seasonal Thompson’s Cider sorbet.
And if naked scoops of toasted coconut, Really Good Chocolate, grapefruit-Campari sorbet, and kid-friendly Pig M&M (vanilla with mini M&Ms) aren’t enough to tempt you, top them off with hot fudge, salted caramel sauce, and/or real-deal whipped cream — all made in-house, of course.
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580 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
Eight years ago, Ellen Sledge started the peanut- and tree-nut-free Penny Lick with a vintage-inspired pushcart at the Hastings’ Farmers Market. Fast-forward to 2022, and Penny Lick now has a popular shop on Warburton Avenue, which opened in 2015, and a small-scale production facility in Port Chester to churn plenty of pints.
In addition to ice cream— the maple-salted caramel, lavender truffle, chocolate malt, and vegan dark chocolate coconut sorbet are among our favorites — Sledge also produces custom cakes, ice cream bars, gelato, and an elevated take on the supermarket Fudgsicle, made with white or dark chocolate.
55 Hudson Ave, Peekskill
Just a stone’s throw (if you have a good arm) from the fabled Yellow Brick Road that supposedly inspired a young L. Frank Baum, Hudson Creamery has been passing out delectable Jane’s Homemade ice cream, sourced from right here in the Hudson Valley, for years in cakes, homemade waffle cones, and hand-dipped scoops, as well as some truly outrageous sundaes. There are constant updates to the flavor menu, with new additions such as “Blue Zoo,” which is naturally colored with spirulina and littered with scrumptious animal cookies, and Vegan Black Raspberry, along with enduring favorites such as Cappuccino Kahlua Calypso and Thai Coconut.
19 N Salem Road, Cross River
Maybe it’s the location in Cross River, but Bluebird has stayed somewhat under the radar in Westchester, and that’s a shame. Owner Barbara Kessler’s small-batch scoops use only high-quality ingredients, including antibiotic- and hormone-free dairy, organic cane sugar, and real fruit. While there are a myriad of delicious flavors like Chocolate Mandarin Orange and Vegan Horchata, Kessler’s favorite is Decadence!, Stumptown coffee with swirls of homemade fudge and brownies. Bluebird also makes its own waffle cones, pulls a mean double shot of espresso for an affogato, and is one of the few places in the county that makes old-fashioned egg creams, just like the ones Kessler grew up with in Brooklyn.
109 Route 100, Katonah
Like a ride on the Dragon Coaster or a single with mustard at Walter’s roadside pagoda, a swirl of soft serve at King Kone is a summertime rite of passage in Westchester. Open since 1953, this retro stand’s choices don’t skew modern. Pick your size, your cone, and soft-serve flavor — vanilla, chocolate, or twist are the only options — then customize it with rainbow or chocolate sprinkles or an old-fashioned dip in classic chocolate, popular peanut butter, or bright-red-cherry coating. There are also a variety of hard ice cream flavors and a full menu of food options. However, vanilla soft serve is still the most popular menu item, and the nostalgia elicited by King Kone keeps people coming back for more.
10 Westchester Ave, Port Chester
Forget the scoop shops you grew up with. Former Chopped champion Nick Di Bona went all out when he opened this ice cream wonderland in Port Chester in 2018. The brightly colored space boasts more than just an ice cream counter and a freezer full of pints: Adults can sidle up to the boozy milkshake bar, and a sprinkle-patterned party room rains jimmies from the ceiling on command. But don’t let the flashy extras fool you; it’s the ice cream that built Bona Bona’s loyal following, thanks to unconventional flavors like Italian rainbow cookie and Nutella s’mores, ready to be topped with a swirl of the signature (and oft-Instagrammed) torched meringue.
Who doesn’t love a classic ice cream truck? Just the thought of this American staple evokes a sense of nostalgia even in the most stoic of people. With delicious soft serve, shaved ice, sundaes, floats, and milkshakes, a stop by one of Jimmy’s cow-print ice cream trucks is sure to make your day. Boasting more than a dozen toppings and mix-ins, the three seemingly simple soft serve flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and twist), along with a Neapolitan choice of shakes, lead to a world of combinations. They also do catering for events of any size and scope, from intimate birthday parties to weddings and corporate functions.
270 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck
Sure, it may be known for possibly the most Insta-worthy gooey cookies in the county, but the Mamaroneck dessert bar is also no slouch when it comes to ice cold treats. Cereal-milk soft serve gets paired with sugary breakfast names like Cookie Crisp, Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, and more.
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At Saccone’s Pizzeria in New Rochelle, eight flavors are available on a daily basis year-round, with top picks ranging from lemon with fresh juice and zest to mint chocolate chip with imported Italian mint flavoring and pineapple and banana with bits of fresh fruit in the mix.
The homemade icy blend at Eastchester’s Pane e Gelato is not Italian ice, per se, but in some circles, it’s considered the REAL Italian ice. Granita, according to owner Paolo Pilano, is “better because there’s no sugary syrup, just fresh fruit.” All-natural, authentic Italian gelato is also available in a pantheon of classic flavors, and five choices of granita are available daily throughout the year, with mango and Café Fredo (made with espresso) being the biggest tempters.
Since the 1960s, homemade Italian ice has been coolly lurking among the wieners and potato puffs at Walter’s Hot Dogs in Mamaroneck and White Plains, where the lemon is made with fresh juice and zest, and the watermelon is pretty much just cut-up fruit and ice. Four scoops of Italian ice can be blended with Sprite for a signature Freeze® drink, though those in the know ask for a watermelon Freeze® mixed with lemonade in the summertime. At the White Plains location, Italian ice is plopped into White Claw Seltzer for a Boozy Freeze.