Editor's Note: New York isn't short on places to get a scoop, but we've all had that moment when we're standing on the corner wondering where on earth to go. That's why we put together a list of all the places we like to satisfy our craving—from good, everyday ice cream to stand-out spots. Here are a few hints to using this guide: by ice cream we actually mean all kinds of frozen treats, including ice cream, soft serve, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. What we didn't include is any kind of ice pop, fruit pop, slushie, Italian ice, or the like. Listings are grouped by neighborhood; you can find a map with them all at the bottom of this post. And lastly, these are all places that either focus on ice cream or you can get your scoop to go. There are plenty of restaurants in New York doing great ice cream—so many, in fact, that it's a post for another day.
Know about something we missed? Tell us in the comments below, or send your tips to [email protected]—we'll update this post as we expand our restaurant coverage. Want to head straight to some food porn instead? Hit up the slideshow above.—C.V.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato (East Village/LES): We've had pretty much constant success ordering here, so the challenge isn't what to get, but how to choose. The flavors range from simple (like caramel, actually made straight, no salt) to unique (tarragon pink pepper, beet). Our tip? First visit, plain gelato, second, make it a milkshake.
Melt Bakery (LES, High Line): Ice cream sandwiches that manage to nail interesting flavor combinations (think chili chocolate ice cream between curry coconut cookies) while keeping things balanced. What we love: the cookies range from crunchy to chewy to a Whoopie pie-like red velvet, so you can pick your preferred style.
Dominique Ansel (SoHo): Yes, this is home of the cronut, but the truth is this bakery is good at pretty much everything they do. That includes sorbets, which are dense and creamy and come in flavors like green apple and raspberry. Our tip? Top your scoop with baby meringues for a dollar extra.
Osteria Morini (SoHo): Not a surprise, but the gelato here is made in the true Italian style. That means big flavors which taste just like their ingredients. Get the apricot if you can. Pro tip: you can walk in, get gelato in a to-go cup, and walk right out, no meal required.
Big Gay Ice Cream (East Village, West Village): We've liked BGIC since they were a one truck operation. At their two brick and mortar stores, you can get all their fantastically named treats, including the popular Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, chocolate dip). Our tip? Try the homemade soft serve. It beats the pants off Mr. Softee (does Mr. Softee wear pants?)
Nicoletta:(East Village): We'll take a pass on the pizza here, but the housemade soft serve, which you can order to go, is some good stuff, fresh and buttery.
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (East Village): Some of our favorite gelato in the city, the scoops here are more plush and fluffy than dense, with powerful flavors. The fan favorite is salted caramel, but if you're looking for a lighter sorbetti, they excel at those as well.
Sundaes & Cones (East Village): Best known for their Asian ice cream flavors, and for good reason; they're excellent. Try deep green matcha, red bean, lush taro, and deliciously intense black sesame seed ice cream.
Eataly (Flatiron): The gelato here is pricey but very generously portioned. Fluffy, buttery, and rich, it's bigger and bolder than most of New York's gelato, though also a little subdued in flavor. So stick to clean, simple flavors like fior di latte or the excellently creamy lemon sorbet for best results.
A. B. Biagi (Nolita): The ice cream, which is made on-site in a tiny kitchen in the back of the scoop shop, comes in classic flavors like pistachio and straciatella, but also less conventional spins like goat cheese-orange-and-anise or white chocolate-bergamot. They're all buttery and rich but still very clean—leaner than L'Arte's super-creamy gelato but denser than Il Laboratorio or Il Buco.
Victory Garden (West Village): Ever wanted to try goat milk soft serve? This is your place. We like it for its crisp, light texture and Eastern Mediterranean flavors (ex: the Malhlab-Mastic, which is made from sour cherry pits and mastic resin). Oh, and if they're serving Dondurma, get some. It's a chewy (and we really mean chewy) Turkish ice cream that's worth trying.
L'arte del Gelato/Dolce Gelateria (Multiple Locations): The ultra-rich gelato here is incredible and shouldn't be missed. Our favorite flavors? Pistachio, panna cotta, ginger, rice pudding, or olive oil; we could go on, but there's no need as it seems they can do no wrong.
Grom (West Village): This Turin-based chain may have locations all over the world but they've kept the quality high. You'll find the gelato has bright, vivid flavors and a classically smooth and silky texture. Fans of Nutella will like the Bacio, which combines hazelnuts with Venezuelan "Ocumare" chocolate.
Amorino Gelato (West Village): This Paris-based chain serves good gelato, but we think their sorbetti might be even better. Get a couple of the fruit-forward flavors and ask for it in their trademark flower-petal shape.
Otto (West Village): We're not shy about sidling up to the bar and just ordering some gelato, or better yet, Meredith Kurtzman's olive oil coppetta, which takes a base of stunningly good olive oil gelato and adds fresh sorbet, citrus curd, candied fruit, and some cookies for a more adult take on a sundae. Also look for the Otto gelato cart, which parks itself in Washington Square Park.
Cones (West Village): With a lot of local competition, this Argentinian gelato shop isn't always at the top of our list. Still, the Argentinian flavors like yerba mate and dulce de leche are solid and the corn gelato is surprisingly awesome.
Cafe Cluny Ice Cream Cart (West Village): If you're out for a stroll near the corner of West 12th and West 4th Streets, this little cart is worth a stop. For its resemblance to banana pudding, the Banana-nilla wafer ice cream is our pick.
Ronnybrook Milk Bar (Chelsea) : This farm store in Chelsea Market has some of the most dairy-forward ice cream we've had in New York. It has an almost elastic chew like a lot of New England's frozen treats.
Shake Shack (Multiple Locations): With or without the hype and the lines, the frozen custard at Shake Shack is pretty awesome; thick, satisfying, and sweet. Flavors change monthly.
La Maison du Chocolat (Midtown East): There aren't a ton of options for frozen sweets in this part of town, but if you're there in the summer, you at least have La Maison du Chocolat. Their limited selection of ice cream and sorbets runs on the rich side, but it does the trick.
Je and Jo (Midtown West/Hell's Kitchen): A good choice for an otherwise ice-cream strapped neighborhood, this shop makes all its flavors in house. Their signature move is to tuck a piece of homemade, egg-free cookie dough in the center of every cup.
Emack and Bolio's (Multiple Locations): E&B's isn't doing anything remarkable, but it's holding it down as a typical suburban-style scoop shop. By that we mean nothing fancy, a lot of add-ins, and good for those times where what you're really interested in is the pure fun of getting a cone.
Odd Fellows (Williamsburg): Unique flavors like cornbread and chorizo caramel join conventional vanilla and chocolate at this retro ice cream parlor from Mohan and Holiday Kumar and wd~50 pastry vet Sam Mason.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (Dumbo): This waterfront scoop shop has a limited menu that features classics like chocolate, coffee, strawberry, and butter pecan. Our tip? Take a cone to go—the views from the Brooklyn promenade can't be beat.
Ample Hills Creamery (Prospect Heights): You could probably say we like this place, as evidenced by that time we ate all the ice cream they serve. The scoops have a good texture and the salty, smoky, bitter Salted Crack Caramel flavor is an SE favorite. Flavors rotate often, but luckily that's a mainstay on the menu.
Blue Marble (Prospect Heights, Cobble Hill): The high butterfat content of the scoops here ensures a super creamy texture, but the flavors stay bright. Our favorite scoop? Probably the strawberry (they use use nine pounds of real strawberries in every two-gallon tub). We also like that their soft serve comes in interesting flavors like Vietnamese cinnamon.
SkyIce Sweet & Savory (Park Slope): You might not expect great things from a place that doubles as a Thai restaurant slash ice cream parlor, but the frozen treats here are legitimate. They even manage to pull off flavors like Black sesame with seaweed, though the Thai Tea is hard to beat.
Culture (Park Slope): Low fat yogurt is pasteurized in-house to make this tart yet smooth frozen yogurt. Try topping your cup with the strawberry balsamic sauce.
Bierkraft (Park Slope): Come for the beer (both by the bottle and on tap) but don't leave without the gelato sandwiches made from Il Laboratorio gelato and Bierkraft's own fudgy chocolate brownies.
Sweet Dynasty (Sunset Park): A specialist in Asian flavors like black sesame (great) and durian (caveat emptor). Perfect for post-dim sum refreshment.
Hinsch's (Bay Ridge): A favorite diner and soda fountain among locals, and a proud keeper of the old scoop shop flame.
Anopoli (Bay Ridge): Dark wood accents, stained glass, and cute tiled floors send us back to this soda fountain more than the ice cream itself. But it's a charming place to share a sundae with friends.
Eddie's Sweet Shop(Forest Hills) : Incredibly charming soda fountain that hasn't changed in decades with a knack for great sundaes. The thick, gooey hot fudge and marshmallow sauces are essential to your order; milk shakes are great, too. The vintage decor and ambiance alone makes this place worth a visit.
Malu (Long Island City): While not best-in-class ice cream, Malu serves Long Island City with creative and conventional flavors. Sweet, chunky ice creams are your best bet here too.
Itizy: This truck focuses on Midtown during afternoon hours and hits a mix of downtown, Morningside Heights, Tribeca, and Williamsburg in the evenings. The ice cream is made in small batches with cream from Hudson Valley cooperatives and without stabilizers—which means it's fresh; and it tastes that way.
Coolhaus: Oversized ice cream sandwiches that manage to nail the texture of both the cookie (chewy yet soft) and the ice cream (fluffy but not melty). The list of flavor combinations is long, so check out their daily offerings on Twitter.