Monday, 17 June 2013 00:00
“Summertime, and the ice cream is great…” Not exactly how the song goes but definitely what most people look for once the temperature starts climbing into the upper reaches and bathing suits become standard attire. And to that end, here is what the editors at Long Island Weekly consider to be the five best shops in Nassau County that feature homemade ice cream:
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 that sense of camaraderie.”
Krisch’s was founded in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in 1920, briefly relocating 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.
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 confectionery according to Walt Itgen, Jr., who along with his brother, works under the watchful eye of his father. What this means is that along with its renowned ice cream, Itgen’s sells a fair share of chocolate that’s sold and distributed through other outlets 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 parlour was founded in 1967, Valley Stream was populated by 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 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 Street 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 home made, The hot chocolate is very popular,” said the manager as he dished out almond ice cream and mango ices 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.
Five Pennies Creamery
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 Pasadena, MD’s The Daily Scoop, 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”), 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 scoops) 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.
• Coyle’s Ice Cream
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. All 60 flavors are made on the premises with hot fudge sundaes, daily specials and karaoke all on the menu. Coyle also has a smaller second location on Main Street in Islip.
Coyle’s Ice Cream
75 Howells Rd., Bay Shore
• Eddie’s Sweet Shop
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 is a mix of traditional classics like mint chip, butter pecan and orange sherbert and the more offbeat pistachio pineapple and tutti frutti.
Eddie’s Sweet Shop
105-29 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills