New York City's best new ice cream, soft serve frozen treats this summer
HomeHome > Blog > New York City's best new ice cream, soft serve frozen treats this summer

New York City's best new ice cream, soft serve frozen treats this summer

Jun 02, 2023

Morgenstern's Bananas on the Lower East Side features eight rotating flavors of non-dairy soft serve.

Isn't every summer the summer of ice cream?? The answer: yes

But every year there's something new to celebrate in the world of frozen treats. This season, one that's forecast to be hotter than ever, that's soft serve. The swirled dessert will be flowing out of machines across the city in a variety of weird and wonderful flavors. Take Nick Morgenstern, who has turned his eponymous Lower East Side ice cream parlor into a soft serve only spot called Morgenstern's Bananas where his dairy-free options include salted peanut butter and sumo yuzu. (The ice cream expert also teamed up with the new hospitality platform Blackbird, to give extra toppings gratis, to members.)

But Morgenstern isn't totally out of the ice cream game: He's also joining forces with the team at the downtown Spanish eatery Ernesto's on a cart that will be parked outside the restaurant and scoop compelling flavors like Basque cheesecake ice cream.

And that's just the tip of the ice cream iceberg. There's also ingenious new frozen desserts showing up at stores around the city, including a colorful tribute to Keith Haring to celebrate Pride Month in June. Here's a taste of what's in store this summer.

This tiny, black-and-white shop that sells scoops by day, and natural wine at night, is the brainchild of Bad Habit ice cream founders Jesse and Javier Zuniga. After launching their ingredient-driven ice cream during the pandemic, they debuted Caleta in January with weekly changing flavors like toasted milk with hot honey and pomegranate lime sorbet. There's no cones or toppings, says Jesse: "Our ice creams and sorbets are meant to be presented to the guest already perfectly balanced."

Ice cream hero Morgenstern has turned his destination storefront on Rivington St. into the non-dairy soft serve spot Bananas. He's using a Carpigiani machine to finesse the old school staple with eight rotating flavors, in somewhat classic options, like super chocolate and coconut vanilla. The toppings are more innovative: Fudgy chocolate jelly, pickled mango tapioca, and a matcha-and-toasted-rice-flavored shell. Cups run from $5-$10.

The illuminated purple neon sign inside Brix Haus, the five-month-old Prospect Lefferts Gardens ice cream shop from former Maialino pastry chef Tara Glick, declares "ice cream solves everything." Her hybrid scoops—Italian gelato-style made with dairy products from upstate—come in weekly rotating flavors like mint chip and buttered popcorn. Glick also folds the latter into a crackerjack sundae, accented with caramel corn and peanut brittle, crowned with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Sasha Zabar—son of legendary New York grocer Eli Zabar—is getting into the ice cream business at this French-style scoop shop that opens on the Upper East Side in late May. Using a Carpigiani machine, known for producing extra rich, custardy, and even chewy ice cream, and a 50% whole milk, 50% cream base, Zabar will offer around 20 flavors, from classic vanilla to salty chocolate chip. There's also seasonal soft serve options, and toppings like fresh raspberry sauce and hazelnut praline.

Ice creams come in a cup or gluten-free cone made from oat flour and sweetened with maple syrup, and can be transformed into a sundae; Grab one of the four counter seats inside the pink-hued parlor. Don't miss the strawberry ice cream Eton mess, accented with fresh fruit from famed California farm Harry's Berries, plus strawberry jam and meringue sprinkles.

Egg custard, cinnamon black walnut and, most ingeniously, Basque cheesecake are a few of the flavors that will be on offer at Heladeria. The ice cream cart from chef Ryan Bartlow and Morgenstern (whose Bananas shop is above) will be parked outside Bartlow's restaurant Ernesto's starting Memorial Day Weekend, serving cups and cones, unadorned; no toppings will be on offer.

On June 1, the beloved New York-based ice cream chain Van Leeuwen will launch a flavor that celebrates iconic pop artist Keith Haring. To kick off Pride month, shops and their website will scoop the multicolored Passion Fruit Berry Pop flavor: a blue raspberry and yellow passion fruit combo with strawberry jam swirls in containers decorated with Haring's dancing figures.

Anna Gordon has quietly built a following at her Brooklyn bakery for the chewy cookies that she also turns into seasonal ice cream sandwiches. Last month, Gordon expanded with her first Manhattan location at the James Beard Foundation's new Market 57 food hall on 11th Ave. At the counter-service bake shop with a couple bar seats, she's offering her signature sandwiches in flavors like almond tahini macaron cookies with coffee caramel swirled coffee ice cream with espresso beans.

Van Leeuwen's Keith Haring tribute is a blue rasberry and yellow passion fruit combo with strawberry jam swirls.

Chef Nicolás López of Hudson Yards’ acclaimed Spanish food hall Mercado Little Spain just unleashed a chilled take on the xuxo, a flaky pastry from the Catalonian city of Girona that's traditionally deep fried, tossed in granulated sugar, and filled with a custardy cream. His version turns the fried xuxo into a cone and adds soft serve in flavors like mango or strawberry and cream swirl. Grab it at the market's new xuxo helados kiosk.

In Japan, unadorned and barely sweetened milk-flavored soft serve using Hokkaido—a region lauded for its dairy—is perpetually in demand. When Yudai Kanayama opened his small Lower East Side restaurant with a menu dedicated to his native Hokkaido, he was determined to serve the frozen specialty a few years ago. Next month, Dr. Clark will swirl the most authentic Hokkaido-style soft serve outside of Japan, made with dairy products from NY state.

To perfect the recipe, Kanayama brought in Hitoshi Machimura, owner of Hokkaido's most famous dairy, Machimura Farm, to consult. Dr. Clark's version of the popular sweet will be served in a clear cup, without garnishes, to highlight the quality of the milk and cream and its natural sweetness.