Inside Westchester’s Artisanal Ice Cream Shops
Beat the heat with some spectacular scoops that put grocery-store options to shame. Handcrafted flavors, natural ingredients, and small-batch production specs make for unforgettable treats across the county.
A classic van-choc-straw combo at The Blue Pig in Croton-on-Hudson
Photo By Brandy Neill
Is there anything more blissful than ice cream? The creamy decadence, the rich flavor—heck, even the way it melts down the side of your cone in the warm sunshine. Ice cream makes just about everything better; it’s the perfect antidote for when he dumps you (or when you dump him), a great way to quell a tantruming tyke, and a perfect way to end a day at the beach. Though it’s available year-round, there’s nothing better than venturing out to where this quintessential summer treat is made in-house or at a dairy nearby. Here, some of the best cones (and cups) in the County.
If you haven’t been to Abbott’s Frozen Custard (1143 E Main St, Shrub Oak 845-282-1761; abbottscustard.com), drop everything and go. This super-fresh, ultra-smooth frozen custard is made in small batches and uses a secret recipe dating back to 1902. Because it’s hand-churned, with only 2 percent air, it’s thick, soft, and dense. In other words, perfect. There are generally five to seven flavors (which constantly rotate) and 20 toppings. Most popular: vanilla, chocolate almond, cookies and cream, butter pecan, coffee, and cake batter. Small cone: $2.40.
Open a year this month, Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream (19 N Salem Rd, Cross River (no phone); Facebook: Bluebird NY) already feels like a community staple. That’s because its 20-plus flavors (offered on a rotating basis) are so addictive (oatmeal cookies and cream, chocolate pudding, Stumptown Coffee, salted caramel, and chocolate hazelnut swirl) and the place so cheery and fun (we love the write-on blackboard). Owner Barbara Kessler uses only natural ingredients; no artificial colors or flavors. Also popular: house-made waffle cones (which taste like cookies) and homemade fudge. Small cone: $3.75.
In business since 1953, King Kone (Whitehall Corners, Rtes 35 and 100, Somers 914-232-0571) is a Westchester mainstay, a roadside stand with a giant ice cream cone jutting out from the roof that can’t help but make you smile. A popular stop for families (thanks, in part, to its proximity to Muscoot Farm), it has an old-fashioned, rural atmosphere that makes you forget you’re in the ’burbs. Ice cream is available in hard-pack and soft varieties; there are 18 hard-pack flavors (the ice cream comes from well-known vendors Gifford’s Ice Cream, Hershey’s Ice Cream, and Perry’s Ice Cream) and dozens of toppings. Among those most in demand: cookie dough (chocolate chip, cookies and cream); Holy Cannoli (vanilla with chocolate chips and pieces of cannoli); and Queen of Hearts (dark chocolate with raspberry swirls and fudge hearts). New this season: cookies and milk, made with vanilla and chocolate-chip cookies. Small cone: $3.50.
Joe Slakas, the owner of Lighthouse Ice Cream and Coffee Kompanies (27 W Main St, at the Tarrytown Harbor, Tarrytown 914-502-0339; lighthouseicecreamkompany.com) is all about simplicity, and, to that end, offers handcrafted ice cream made of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients—such as milk and cream from Salem, New York-based Battenkill Valley Creamery—which are the keys to the success of his small-batch ice cream. Expect about 30 flavors (salted caramel, dark chocolate, Nutella cappuccino, and blueberry cheesecake are among the biggest sellers); dozens of toppings; and interesting concoctions (like the new hot ice cream sandwich) from Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Briana Getterman. Small cone: $3.75.
If a place calls itself Local (75 S Greeley Ave, Chappaqua 914-238-0698; chappaqualocal.com), it’s a pretty good bet the owner’s interested in honoring what’s regional. And so Adam Strahl, who started the business with his wife two years ago, sources his ice cream from Berkshires-based SoCo Creamery and Ronnybrook Farm Dairy of Pine Plains, New York, both of which specialize in all-natural ingredients. Some of the most requested flavors: Cookie Monster (sweet cream ice cream with cookie bits), ginger crème brûlée (ginger ice cream with bits of fresh ginger), and peanut butter mudslide (peanut butter ice cream with cookies and fudge). There are at least 16 flavors at a time and 15 toppings, which you can get in compostable ice cream cups. Small cone: $3.
Charming and cozy define Longford’s Own-Made Ice Cream (4 Elm Pl, Rye 914-967-3797; longfordsicecream.com), a small shoebox of a place that’s big on service and flavor. The “own-made” ice cream, crafted in Port Chester, boasts 36 flavors and 20 toppings (a rotating list of soft ice cream is also available, though it’s not “own-made”). Most popular flavors include caramel sea salt, Cookie Monster (vanilla ice cream with baked chocolate chip cookies), peppermint stick, and mud pie (coffee, fudge, and Oreo chunks). Small cone: $3.65.
Family-owned Main Street Sweets (35 Main St, Tarrytown 914-332-5757) has been pleasing ice-cream aficionados for 14 years with its made-on-the-premises ice cream and shelves full of candy. Among the 38 flavors, peach, strawberry, cotton candy, and Main Street Special (coffee with chocolate chunks and fudge) remain the most popular, though vanilla and chocolate are perennial favorites. The store also offers soft-serve, though it’s not made in-house. Small cone: $3.30.
Everything is gorgeous and tastes as good as it looks at Sherry B Dessert Studio (65 King St, Chappaqua 914-238-8300; sherryb.com), where the ice cream, ice pops, and ice cream sandwiches are house-made from scratch. Flavors change seasonally. Of the six flavors offered, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and peanut butter Cap ’n Crunch remain top contenders. Sherry is constantly experimenting, evidenced by her new strawberry and salted caramel creations. Toppings include made-from-scratch hot fudge, caramel, and Sherry’s version of Magic Shell dark and white chocolate. Small cone: $3.22.
Thanks to the rooftop garden at The Blue Pig (121 Maple St, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-3850; thebluepigicecream.com), as well as owner Lisa Moir’s commitment to quality, the strawberries, mint, lavender, and other flavors are house-grown. The lemon flavor in the lemon ice cream comes from hand-squeezed lemons. Even the milk used in the made-on-the-premises ice cream comes from Hudson Valley Fresh, a local co-op in Dutchess County. There are 16 flavors that change with the seasons. Popular are Pig M&M (vanilla ice cream with M&Ms), honey vanilla with lavender, garden mint chip, and olive oil. New this summer: an outdoor brick courtyard complete with twinkly lights. Small cone: $3.50.
There’s no dearth of choices at The Purple Monkey (171 S Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-862-0622), where you’ll find 19 ice cream flavors, an island full of toppings, and 12 newly installed self-serve yogurt stations. The ice cream, from Gifford’s in Maine, is dense and chock-full of iconic favorites like brownie bits and cookie dough. Always popular black raspberry, campfire S’mores (graham cracker ice cream with marshmallow and chocolate chips), and moose tracks (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and fudge). Small cone: $3.
Frequent contributor Jeanne Muchnick (jeannemuchnick.com) got her first job scooping ice cream and considers herself a lifelong ice cream-a-holic.
Looking for something on a stick? Try a paleta. Paletas are Mexican frozen pops that are either water-based (made with fresh fruit and/or fruit juices) or milk/cream-based, and offered in a rainbow of colors and flavors. No one does them better than Paleteria Fernandez (33 N Main St, Port Chester 914-939-3694 or 350 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck 914-315-1598 paletasfernandez.com). Hibiscus flower, cantaloupe, kiwi, and mango are just some of the fun and funky flavors to sample.