As July winds down, so does National Ice Cream Month. But, that doesn’t mean Americans’ craving for this tasty treat doesn’t continue to pulse as strong as ever, health consciousness and frozen yogurt availability notwithstanding. According to Fortune magazine, in 2013, your fellow citizens spent $13.7 billion—not million, but billion—on ice cream, not including restaurant sales.
During that same time, research by NPD Group revealed that 40 percent of Americans consumed it for an average of about 28.5 times a year. With this in mind, we decided to wade into the controversial topic of picking out some of the most notable ice cream shops in our area. The big criteria out of the gate was that the ice cream had to be homemade, and it couldn’t be part of a chain. We list our first nominees alphabetically.
If you feel there is an ice cream parlor whose presence on this list is lacking, please feel free to email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coyle’s Ice Cream
75 Howells Road, Bay Shore
A great place to stop off either on the way to or from the Fire Island ferry is Coyle’s Ice Cream. Marty Coyle and his wife Janice have been slinging scoops since 1985. And, while May and June are his busiest months, Coyle is at his store year-round making ice cream in the back from 5 to 11 p.m. seven days a week, save for some much-needed time off in the fall, when he and his spouse travel to warmer locales in the Caribbean.
Twenty to 40 tubs of ice cream (which are two and a half gallons a pop) get churned out by the industrious Coyle. On this particular night, cherry vanilla, cookie dough, banana nut, peanut butter, brownie nut fudge and a custom flavor called Monster Mash (chocolate ice cream with broken waffle pieces, peanut butter, caramel and crunch) are getting whipped up by the Bay Shore native, who admits that he eats the stuff every day. (“For some people it’s alcohol, for me it’s ice cream. When I go on vacation, I have to know where the nearest ice cream store is. I don’t care whose it is, it can even be supermarket stuff. I just have to have ice cream.”)
He has 50 flavors available at any given time, although he has recipes for 300 different flavors that he’s made over the years, but the ones on site are the ones that sell. Among the most popular are Crazy Vanilla (vanilla with food colors in it), chocolate raspberry (vanilla ice cream with chocolate and sauce with chocolate chunks and raspberry sauce layered into it), Mint Oreo and Holy Cannoli (cannoli cream, vanilla ice cream, cannoli shells and chocolate chips).
Then there are the flavors that didn’t quite stick like bacon and eggs and corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day one particular year.
“It wasn’t bad because it had the taste of the corned beef and cabbage without the smell. We didn’t sell it, but gave it away to people. My wife cooked the corned beef and cabbage at home, and I layered it in to the vanilla ice cream. It was pretty gross, to scoop out the frozen cabbage,” Coyle admitted.
Father’s Day weekend is his Black Friday, thanks to a combination of it usually falling around the first hot weekend of the summer season and graduation celebrations. While his sales were up 70 percent that day over last year and so far seasonally 40 percent above 2014’s numbers, Marty Coyle is looking to sell the business and pass the ice cream scoop on to the next young entrepreneur.
“It’s time to go. I’m going to be 66, and I have to go down to Florida with all those old people and find a place next to a funeral home, so I don’t have to go far. I can go from the sand right to the funeral home. It’s going to take me a while to find the right guy because you have to have a passion for ice cream. These younger generations don’t want to work. They call this work. This isn’t work—marshmallow and caramel—how is this work?” All 50 flavors are made on the premises with hot fudge sundaes, special cakes, daily specials and karaoke all on the menu. Coyle also has a smaller second location on Main Street in Islip.
Eddie’s Sweet Shop
105-29 Metropolitan Ave.
The vintage décor of tapestry wallpaper, marble counters, pressed-tin ceilings and wooden booths are straight out of the 1920s, when the shop was originally opened. And, while the aesthetics have led to productions including Boardwalk Empire, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Remember Me borrowing the interior for film shoots, it’s the homemade ice cream, toppings and syrup that Vito Citrano and his wife Angelina make in the basement that keeps people coming back.
And, while Citrano’s family became the fourth owners in 1968, they’ve expanded the original seven flavors to the current 20, which are a mix of traditional classics like mint chip, butter pecan and orange sherbet along with the more offbeat pistachio pineapple and tutti frutti.
Krisch’s Restaurant And Ice Cream Parlour
11 Central Ave., Massapequa
Massapequa residents have been reliving simpler times through ice cream since 1955, when the current incarnation of Krisch’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour opened at 11 Central Ave. Steven McCue has been the man at the helm, welcoming customers since 1993, when he became owner after starting as a busboy a decade earlier.
“It was a great place to work as a kid,” said McCue. “It wasn’t about making money, it was about being with your friends and having a sense of camaraderie.”
Krisch’s was founded in its original home of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in 1920 before finding its current home on Long Island’s South Shore. Having remained at the same location for close to 60 years, the venerable ice cream shop has built up a loyal customer base spanning generations.
McCue’s standards extend from top quality meats for Krisch’s famous hamburgers to, of course, its ice cream. All of it, along with chocolate, is made in-house and the freshest products are bought whenever possible. Even vanilla, the most basic of ice cream flavors, is anything but plain. McCue shuns squeeze bottle extract in favor of Madagascar vanilla beans and the end result remains Krisch’s most popular flavor.
Krisch’s does so much it’s enough to induce brain freeze. The menu boasts a vast array of creations, including dark chocolate strawberry, rainbow cookie, Fluffernutter, burgundy cherry and many, many more.
A full lunch and dinner menu is also available, along with a staggering and enticing breakfast menu.
Walt Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour
211 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream
Even though Valley Stream institution Walt Itgen’s refers to itself as an ice cream parlour, it is really a confectionary, according to Walt Itgen Jr., who along with his brother, works under the watchful eye of his father. Which means that along with its renowned ice cream, Itgen’s sells a fair share of chocolate that’s sold and distributed through other outletsm and more traditional hard sweets like old-fashioned candy sticks.
Everything is homemade at Itgen’s, from the ice cream and hot fudge to the dieter’s kryptonite, that is the eatery’s whipped cream (made with 40 percent butterfat) and scrumptious buttercrunch chocolate (made with real butter).
When the luncheonette/ice cream parlor was founded in 1967, Valley Stream was populated with a large German immigrant community. As such, Itgen’s menu reflects its roots by offering Teutonic comfort food like sauerbraten, bratwurst and Jaeger Schnitzel. The burgers are top-notch and beg to be followed up by a dessert featuring one of the menu’s 21 flavors that include Java chip, chocolate peanut butter, black raspberry, Dublin Road, along with more seasonal flavors like pumpkin and tutti frutti. And, while more complicated dessert concoctions like Reagan’s Jelly Beaner, the Banana Skyscraper and Itgen’s Special Sock It To Me Sundae all rate high, the most popular ice cream-related item is the simple hot fudge sundae.
8 Glen St., Glen Cove
Henry’s Confectionery in Glen Cove is a favorite place for Long Islanders to venture to for homemade ice cream. A long-standing diner, the establishment has been in the same location on Glen Street since 1929, and remains a family-owned business.
Owner Joe Valensisi took over the business from the late John Wolke in 2000, who taught him the ins and outs of making ice cream and chocolates. He says he has kept the recipes the same; Wolke’s father, Henry, was the second owner and ran the business from the early 1930s until the 1970s, when John took over.
Henry’s is the place to go for the basic flavors; Shauna McCauley (who is the granddaughter of Henry Wolke and a server at the diner) says while they tend to sell out of all of the flavors, the old standards—chocolate, vanilla and strawberry—are quite popular.
Of course, even those “old standards” are created with high standards; all of the fruit flavors are made with fresh fruit, and to make pistachio, Valensisi must first roast, then grind the nuts. Other favorite flavors include banana, butter pecan, Irish cream, Oreo, chocolate fudge brownie, peach and lemon custard. They sell ice cream by the scoop, pint or quart, and offer sundaes and milkshakes as well.
The luncheonette closes at 5 p.m. weekdays, but after school and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the warmer months are busy times for people to come in for a tasty treat.
Every year, Valensisi also donates his ice cream for the St. Rocco’s Feast, held in Glen Cove in July, providing another venue for people to sample his delectable wares.
“It’s a tradition…I got to keep it going,” says Valensisi.
12 E. Main St., Oyster Bay
At Gooseberry Grove at 12 East Main St. in Oyster Bay, they serve homemade ice cream and ices. Gooseberry Grove’s owner Bob Leibold offers 18 flavors of ice cream ranging from the traditional (pistachio, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, strawberry) to the more esoteric (Samoa Blast, Moose Tracks in the Snow, Kryptonite, Cinnabon). The shop also offers about a dozen ices including mango and bubble gum. The interior of the store is a mix of old-time ice cream parlor and candy store. They can make you an egg cream or shakes.
“We also have fudge in all flavors and chocolate pretzels that are homemade. The hot chocolate is very popular,” said the manager, as he dished out almond ice cream and mango ice that this reporter purchased to take home. Both were great. There really is a difference between homemade and supermarket ice cream.
Seated at the outside tables were Gus and Sally Quinones, finishing off lunch. The Hicksville couple work in Oyster Bay. “I like their birthday cakes,” said Sally.
Owner Leibold is an entrepreneur and does home parties, has inflatables and does in-store parties. Call him at 516-567-0348 to arrange an event.
—Dagmar Fors Karppi
11 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
Open since 2010, Five Pennies Creamery is the brainchild of Brooklyn native Danny Levine, who has had a lifelong affair with ice cream. After having thoroughly learned his craft at The Daily Scoop in Pasadena, MD, Levine headed north and settled in the bucolic South Shore community of Rockville Centre. Cribbing the name for his shop from “Five Pennies,” a favorite childhood song by Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye, the Franklin Square resident proceeded to unleash 135 different flavors on an unsuspecting public.
With 36 flavors available at any given time, dessert mavens get to choose from exotic fare like Smurfs (electric blue raspberry/rainbow sprinkles), Almond Joy, banana pudding (with bits of vanilla wafer) and peanut butter Oreo, all available in homemade sugar/waffle cones and waffle bowls. Other specialties are made-to-order ice cream cakes (6 to 10 inches), hot brownie sundaes, frozen coffee and Brooklyn egg creams (made with Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup and soda water straight out of a seltzer bottle).
Other Five Pennies specialties include The Cyclone, a concoction of layered frozen custard and ices (all homemade) and ice cream pies, available either in their entirety or by the slice.
Most impressive is The Millionaire aka Our Kitchen Sink. Featuring one scoop of every kind of ice cream out at the time (36 flavors) presented on top of a waffle base, this ultimate in family-style dessert dining also features wet and dry toppings, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Read about Long Island school chums Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who revolutionized the ice cream industry—and get the inside scoop about visiting their Vermont factory here.