The Best Ice Cream in Rockland and Westchester

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As Small Bites fans already know, Katherine Curry has been on The Journal News Ice Cream Odyssey all summer long. The fruit of her labors was a series of articles in our Sunday Express sections this weekend. Here’s a recap of the article that appeared in those sections, with links to the local spots she mentioned.

And, after the jump, her article from Life&Style, where she names her picks for the best ice cream in the region. You won’t want to miss that roundup!

With so many excellent pints of ice cream available in grocery and specialty stores, it can be hard to justify the expense and effort required for a trip to an ice cream parlor, unless you have a Little League team in tow. Even the most reasonably priced ice cream shops in our area charge close to $3 for a scoop, which is at least halfway to the price of a pint of store-bought premium ice cream.

So when you go out for ice cream, you want it to be good. Really good. And with that in mind, I spent the summer scouring the area for the best places to stop for a cone. My focus was on great experiences and, when possible, homemade and regionally produced ice cream. After all, you don’t need me to tell you about your local Coldstone Creamery, do you?

Sometimes a place may not be serving the most wonderful or unique ice cream, but the atmosphere makes it a great nostalgic stop on a summer day. For other places, it truly is all about the taste of the scoop in my cup. (Or cone.)

Food writer Michael Stern of Roadfood fame, who lives in Connecticut and has ventured across the border into New York for many a cone himself, has spent a lifetime eating ice cream across America.

“The one thing for me that makes for a great and memorable ice cream experience, aside from the ice cream itself, is the sense of fun that one has getting it,”?he says. “Going out for ice cream is a fundamentally democratic experience; it’s a food that everyone has access to.”

As for the treat itself, Stern notes the fundamental paradox of ice cream. “Ice cream can be extremely rich and also extremely refreshing, which is unique, because the two are, in my mind, normally contradictory.”

As I chronicled my summer-long ice cream research on the Small Bites blog at LoHud.com — I only half-jokingly called it the Journal News Ice Cream Odyssey — I discovered that finding great local ice cream in our area can be a challenge, and I?wondered why.

Is it the typically high rents? That’s possible, because certainly the profits on ice cream can’t be huge. Do we not care as much about ice cream as folks in ice cream-centric areas such as New England? I doubt that — I’ve met many ice cream devotees on my travels this summer who (like me) would drive miles for a good scoop.

But here’s the thought that’s kept me awake at nights (or was it indigestion from too much ice cream?): What if I missed the best ice cream place of all? If I did, readers, please let me know at katherineburkettcurry@gmail.com. I’ll do a follow-up online.

For now, here’s a look at one of my favorite ice cream shops in the region:

Northern Westchester.
Eastchester and Scarsdale.
Rockland.
Sound Shore.
White Plains.
Yorktown and Cortlandt.

After the jump, Katherine’s picks for the best of the best.

Katherine Curry
For The Journal News
I’ve spent the summer exploring our area’s ice cream parlors and roadside stands in search of the best ice cream. I’ve spent so much time on the ice cream trail that I’m (only half-jokingly) calling the project The Journal News Ice Cream Odyssey.
While eating hundreds of spoonfuls of ice cream,  I was bound to discover some great spots along the way. Some of them are featured in your local Sunday Express sections today. Most of them are featured on the Small?Bites blog — with tons of photos. And some of them are featured here in Life&Style. These, I must admit, are my favorites.
So here’s the scoop on the best scoops I ate this summer:
Best Chocolate
The flavor known as Killer Chocolate, from Jane’s Ice Cream of Kingston, is a chocolate lover’s dream. It’s available at The Cupcake Kitchen and, when in rotation, at Temptation Café and the Palisades Market.
Honorable Mention: Abbott’s Frozen Custard. Don’t miss the chocolate almond, creamy custard studded with crisp whole nuts.
Best Vanilla
The Blue Pig’s vanilla is creamy with a subtle vanilla flavor that allows the taste of fresh dairy to shine.
Honorable Mention: Gifford’s vanilla ice cream, available at the Purple Monkey, makes a great canvas for chocolate sauce and other toppings.
Best Coffee Flavor
A tie between Longford’s Mud Pie, a coffee ice cream mixed with Oreos and fudge, and Jane’s cappuccino Kahlua (in rotation at the Cupcake Kitchen, Temptations Cafe and Palisades Market), a coffee ice cream studded with bits of old-fashioned coffee brittle.
Jane’s cappuccino Kahlua is in flavor rotation at The Cupcake Kitchen,
Temptations Cafe and Palisades Market.
Best Specialty Flavor
A tie between Chongos ice cream at Palateria Fernandez, based on the Mexican dessert pudding made with curdled milk, cinnamon and sugar; and maple walnut ice cream from the Blue Pig, packed with roasted walnuts and an authentic maple flavor.
Honorable mention:?Palateria La Flor de Michoacan for the tequila ice cream, a (non-alcoholic) flavor so boozy in taste I worry about driving after having a scoop.
Best Kiddie Flavor
Longford’s Party Cake, as festive-looking and sweet-tasting as a birthday cake. (Available at the Rye and Larchmont location, but not at Roc N Roe’s Pop?Shop.)
Honorable Mentions: Bellizzi’s bright pink bubblegum gelato, an amazing approximation of the real thing. Cookie gelato at La Tulipe, sophisticated enough for grown-ups but filled with kid-friendly cookie taste. Last Licks’ sweet S’Moreo, chocolate ice cream with cookies, marshmallows and graham crackers. Panda Paws, vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and fudge swirls. In flavor rotation at Cone Zone.
Best Soft-Serve
The rich soft-serve frozen custard at Pearl River’s King Kone.
Best Gelato and Sorbet
La Tulipe’s artisanal gelato. Raspberry sorbet is summer in a cup.
Honorable Mentions: Ossining Pizzeria’s gelateria (try Bounty, a crema gelato laced with chocolate, hazelnuts and coconut); Pane e Gelato (try the creamy, nutty pistachio)?and Via Vanti (try the refreshing pear sorbet).
Best Ambiance (Outdoor)
King Kone in Somers. Savoring a cone at one of the picnic tables makes for the perfect nostalgic summer day.
Honorable Mention: The little garden at the Blue Pig is a sweet oasis.
Best Ambiance (Indoor)
Roc N’ Roe’s Pop Shop, which serves Longford’s ice cream,  is a retro-themed candy shop/ice cream parlor that stays open late and is welcoming to kids and teens alike.
Honorable Mentions: Treat Station, for its spiffy 1940s soda fountain and model trains. The Cupcake Kitchen, for its bright and sunny storefront and ice cream counter. Main Street Sweets in Tarrytown, a picture-perfect small town ice cream parlor.
Best Sign
Hoyers’ giant, iconic neon ice cream cone sign.
Best Novelties
A tie between Wally’s and Abbott’s Frozen Custard.  Wally’s novelties include sandwiches, Wally pops, and the doughboy, which is vanilla ice cream on a stick, coated in cookie dough pieces dipped in chocolate.  Abbott’s turtles — frozen custard mixed with chocolate sauce and nuts, then dipped in chocolate — are daunting but delicious.
Honorable Mention: The fruit paletas at Palateria Fernandez are refreshing and come in truly novel flavors like salty pico de gallo, tamarind, and mango with chili.
Best Place We Wish We’d Gone To
A tie between Johnny Gelato in Carmel, where I never got despite my best intentions, and the new Lou’s Kitchen in Mamaroneck, where they’re scooping ice cream from Bellvale Farms Creamery in Warwick, N.Y.  Flavors I missed at Johnny Gelato include sea salt caramel,  maple bacon, and green tea.
Next year, for sure.

If you go

Here’s where to find the shops mentioned in this article.

Abbott’s Frozen Custard: 1143 E. Main St., Shrub Oak. 845-282-1761.

Bellizi: 153 E. Main St., Mt. Kisco. 914-241-1200.

The Blue Pig: 121 Maple St., Croton-on-Hudson. 914-271-3850.

Cone Zone: 747 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack. 845-353-4800.

The Cupcake Kitchen: 100 Main St., Irvington. 914-231-6261.

Hoyers: 17 Route 9W, West Haverstraw. 845-947-3652.

Johnny Gelato: 1100 Route 52, Kent. 845-225-0076.

King Kone: 136 N. Middletown Road, Pearl River. 845-620-0728.

King Kone: 109 Route 100, Somers. 914-232-0571.

La Tulipe: 455 Lexington Ave., Mt. Kisco. 914-242-4555.

Last Licks

• 1074 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale. 914-725-5932.

• 104 S. Ridge St., Rye Brook. 914-315-6688.

• 395 N. Main St., Armonk. 914-273-3551.

Longford’s

• 4 Elm Place, Rye. 914-967-3797.

• 1941 Palmer Ave., Larchmont. 914-834-0207.

Lou’s Kitchen: 257 Mamaroneck Ave. (behind the Mamaroneck Playhouse, Mamaroneck. 914-889-3326.

Main Street Sweets: 35 N. Main St., Tarrytown. 914-332-5757.

Ossining Pizzeria: 181 Croton Ave., Ossining. 914-762-1455.

Palateria Fernandez:

33 N. Main St., Port Chester. 914-939-3694.

350 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck. 914-315-1598.

Palateria La Flor de Michoacan: 574 North Ave., New Rochelle. 914-235-2781.

The Palisades Market: 243 Route 9W, Palisades. 845-359-3911.

Pane e Gelato: 290 White Plains Road, Eastchester. 914-337-1800.

The Purple Monkey

• 238 S. Highland Ave., Ossining 914-488-5534.

• 171 S. Riverside Ave., Croton-on-Hudson. 914-862-0622.

Roc ’N Roe’s Pop Shop: 11 Wheeler Ave., Pleasantville. 914-747-9797.

Temptations: 80 1/2 Main St., Nyack. 845-353-3355.

Treat Station: 21 S. Division St., Peekskill. 914-788-4141.

Via Vanti: 2 Kirby Plaza, Mt. Kisco. 914-666-6400.

Wally’s: 145 S. Main St., New City. 845-634-3001.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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