Katherine Curry’s Journal News Ice Cream Odyssey took her on a delicious journey all around the Lower Hudson Valley this summer. Here are her picks for great ice cream in White Plains, and, when available, links to her original blog posts on these venues. Take it away, Katherine:
Rita’s Italian Ice and Custard
I scoured White Plains, Hawthorne, Hartsdale and the surrounding towns looking for locally made ice cream, and it was impossible to find. But I did discover a little gem in the Elmsford Multiplex Shopping Center: Rita’s. It’s not locally made, but it is a spot to get frozen custard, a rare treat.
Frozen custard should be extra-creamy and dense — it’s churned more slowly, with less air getting into the mix. Plus, custard is made with eggs, which is a major contributor to the silky smooth richness.
Rita’s is a franchise operation, with locations across the country. The company’s origins are in Philadelphia, where the original Rita’s sold Italian ice known as “water ice,” with chunks of fresh fruit. Rita’s menu has so much going on it makes my brain hurt, and not from an ice cream freeze. There’s Italian ice, frozen custard, and a whole bunch of choices that are mash-ups of the two, like the gelati, which is a decadent layering of Italian ice and frozen custard. There’s also a cup of ice topped with frozen custard, and the Misto, a blended drink of ice and frozen custard, the cream ice (that’s ice with milk mixed in), and the Blendini — that’s ice, frozen custard, and a mix-in like Oreos or M&M’s. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Trust me, I’ve only listed a portion of the menu — the combinations are seemingly endless.
The ices are made fresh at the store, with real fruit in the mix. Flavors I sampled, including banana, mango and lemon, all had a clear fruit flavor and discernible pieces of fruit. The ices also come in a sugar-free version.
But what I’m interested in at Rita’s is the frozen custard. Available in vanilla, chocolate, coffee, orange and strawberry (not all flavors are available each day), this custard, while not as dense and luxurious as Abbott’s in Shrub Oak, is still pretty darn good. An important detail: Custard, like the ices, are made fresh daily, so texture and taste are at their peak.
What I like best about this Rita’s location is its hours — open every day until 10 p.m. — and its location by the multiplex. I can stop in with my kids after a summer movie and make everyone happy, thanks to all the choices.
Me? I’ll be the one eating plain old frozen custard and not sharing with anyone.
Details: 330 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, 914-347-7482.
More White Plains picks, after the jump.
At this gourmet Italian shop and eatery, the gelato and sorbet is from Gelato Giuliana, made in Connecticut. Flavors like pistachio and bacio (chocolate hazelnut) are intensely flavored. Giuliana’s is available in packaged pints elsewhere, but this is one of the only locations we’ve found where it’s scooped.
Details: 57 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, 914-328-9400.
You can get basic soft-serve in chocolate or vanilla at The Little Spot, a nostalgic little roadside wiener stand that’s seen better days. But an ice cream cone savored at one of the picnic tables, as neighboring diners devour their hot dogs, is a truly democratic dessert experience.
Details: 854 N. Broadway, White Plains, 914-761-1334.
Tucked into this little family-run market is an ice cream counter, where Longford’s is scooped. Where else, other than Whole Foods, can you get an ice cream cone while you shop for your dinner?
Details: 48 Gedney Way, White Plains, 914-949-7202.
Tucked in the back of the store near the coffee bar is a large gelato counter serving 24 flavors of Ciao Bella gelato and sorbet. If there is a bad Ciao Bella flavor, I’ve yet to find it. Three standouts are maple ginger snap, key lime graham, and cookie dough gelato, which maintains its kid appeal without going overboard on sweetness.
Details: 110 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, 914-288-1300.