Welcome to Dear Danielle . . . A new blog series answering all of your burning NYC food questions!

Dear Danielle,

I’m new to the city and looking to find my go-to ice cream place, especially as this heat wave continues. Problem is: There are so many to choose from! Help me satisfy my craving!

Ice Scream, You Scream

Dear Ice Cream, You Scream,

I totally feel your brain freeze pain.  The options are endless! So with temperatures staying toasty well into September and October, I did some research to help you get through our Indian summer until your pumpkin spice lattes and slouchy sweaters can take over. Lucky for you (but really lucky for me!), I spent most of August combing the streets for the best sweet treat to satisfy your ice cream craving. Here are some options to suit some particular ice cream personalities (of which there are many!).

For the trend-meister:  Big Gay Ice Cream

Begun as an ice cream truck serving amazing soft serve on the streets of NYC, musicians Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff now operate two NYC storefronts – one in the East Village and one in the West Village. They’ve expanded to Philadelphia and have plans to open in LA soon.
Their soft serve is of special note and different than your standard Mr. Softee truck because of the high-quality ingredients that they use: Ronnybrook Farm Dairy cream and milk, along with sugar and natural stabilizers. While Mr. Softree may taste ok, they use chemicals as stabilizers and the ingredients are not nearly the same caliber. The texture of Big Gay soft serve is perfect; it takes you back to old school soft serve but the taste is out of this world.
What also sets Big Gay Ice Cream apart is the combination of flavors. No need to decide for yourself whether you want caramel sauce and sprinkles. Just do yourself a favor and get the Salty Pimp, Bea Arthur, American Globs or Rocky Roadhouse (the names are all a part of the fun – that and the unicorn and rainbow décor in the stores).  The Salty Pimp consists of vanilla soft serve, dulche de leche sauce, sea salt and chocolate dip.


I went for the Salty Pimp because of my love of the salty/sweet flavor combo. I was not disappointed. Lush and flavorful with the dipped chocolate factor reminding me of the invention of the 90’s, Magic Shell, or a Carvel brown bonnet, but amped up 1000%.
The line was out the door but it was worth the wait to then hang out outside, people-watch, and devour my sweet treat. Perhaps one of my favorite experiences of the meal was the drip-catcher. So simple, so effective. One of those ideas that you see and are thinking “Whyyyy didn’t I think of that? I could be retired in Bora Bora by now”. With no worries about frantically trying to prevent sticky ice cream fingers, I had more time to watch the world go by underneath Big Gay’s window design. It was a rainbow unicorn kind of day indeed.

Big Gay Ice Cream Locations:
West Village: 61 Grove Street at Seventh Avenue South, New York NY 10014; (212) 414-0222
East Village: 125 East 7th Street (between 1st Avenue & Avenue A), New York NY 10009; (212) 533-9333

For the Avant-Garde Flavor-seeker:  Cones Ice Cream Artisans

In business for over 10 years, these ice cream artisans originally hail from Argentina. In a primo spot on Bleecker Street, Cones has a simple interior with the focus squarely placed on the gelato and sorbet cases.  The ice cream is made in the Italian gelato style so it’s a hybrid between soft serve and traditional hard-packed ice cream. “Gelato can be made with milk, cream, various sugars, and flavoring such as fresh fruit and nut purees. It is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than other styles of ice cream.

Gelato is a type of soft ice cream containing a relatively small amount of air” (Wikipedia). The flavors at Cones are anything but traditional and this is what sets it apart from competitors. I went for one scoop of the corn flavor and one scoop of a decadent mocha chocolate.  The dulche de leche is a popular flavor as well. The corn flavor has actual pieces of corn and tastes like the best sweet corn that one gets in the height of the summer. Creamy, sweet and delightful.  The chocolate was rich and decadent. An interesting contrast to the corn but a welcome flavor combination.  Cones also offers delicious flavors of sorbet, which is a nice low-fat (no cream ) way of indulging a summer sweet tooth.


Cones Ice Cream Artisans –  272 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014; (212) 414-1795

For the adventurous spirit (or lactose intolerant):  Victory Garden

If you love soft serve but are not into cow’s milk, then Victory Garden is THE place for you. That being said, even if you like cow’s milk, you will still LOVE Victory Garden. Situated on Carmine Street, in a beautiful, bright space, this soft serve spot offers up delicious flavor combinations in addition to merchandise (think totes, lip balms made at upstate farms) and sweet treats. (vegan cakes and breads).

While trying to decide which flavor to try with which topping, I happened to turn to my right and saw the signage for summer specials. I had to look no further than the Dirt Cup – homemade chocolate crunch, herbal honey. raspberry rose sauce, carrot caramel and an edible flower.  Combining flavors that I never would’ve come up with on my own, the Dirt Cup was absolutely beautiful to look at and even more delicious to eat.  The dirt (the chocolate crunchies on the bottom) was the perfect cap-off to a delightful cup of goats milk soft serve.


I will definitely be heading back there to enjoy some of the other flavor combinations and perhaps pick up a vegan treat for the subway ride home.
Victory Garden – 31 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014 between Bleecker and Bedford Streets;  (212) 206-7273

Come join us on our Greenwich Village Food and Culture Walking Tour.  We take you right past Cones and can point you in the direction of Victory Garden and Big Gay – just a few minute walk from our ending point.


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