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Best Ice Cream Stores on the Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | July 18, 2012 11:12am
Jacques Torres has a winner with this genius combination of fluffy strawberry ice cream with crunchy dark chocolate cookies.
Jacques Torres has a winner with this genius combination of fluffy strawberry ice cream with crunchy dark chocolate cookies.
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DNAinfo/ Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — With temperatures hovering just south of 100 degrees, New Yorkers are scouring the streets for ways to cool down and the Upper West Side's range of ice cream parlors is a jackpot of refreshing treats as well as a chance to escape the hot, steamy sidewalks.

DNAinfo.com New York pounded the pavement to find the best ice cream for all fans, from dairy-free to vegan to kosher to low-calorie: 

Best Ice Cream Store for Kids: Emack & Bolio's 

Amsterdam Avenue between 78th and 79th

Emack & Bolio's tag line is: "super premium ice cream with outrageous flavors".
Though it was started in Boston, this ice cream franchise has many New York fans — photos of happy kids with their faces covered in ice cream cover the walls. 

The decor will delight kids, as will the creative ice cream flavors, sundaes and banana split options. 

Rachel Kucharski and her buddy Claudia Habib came in for a snack for old times' sake. They used to come in all the time when they both lived nearby. 

"The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup is absolutely delicious," said Rachel. Claudia had the Cosmic Crunch, which is vanilla ice cream with caramel, chocolate chips, nuts, toffee and cookie pieces. 

And the grasshopper pie flavor features creme de menthe and oreo cookies. 

As a nod to New Yorkers, this location offers a classic egg cream (or you can be adventurous and try the Boston frappe or the extra thick Boston frappe). 

Advisory: Don't look too closely at the calorie counts listed across the store.

Best Frozen Yogurt: Zabar's 

Broadway and 80th Street

Zabar's cafe can get pretty busy, creating a chaotic frenzy towards the soft serve ice cream line, but it's worth standing your ground in the crush of people for the silky smooth "The Lite Choice" frozen yogurts. The thick velvety low-fat, low-carb, organic, kosher yogurt comes in French vanilla and dark chocolate truffle flavors. This taster suggests you mix both in a cup. The flavors are not overpowering or sickly sweet, nor are they tart like other nearby frozen yogurts. The scoop is well portioned and exceptionally refreshing.

It's healthier than ice cream but feels no less indulgent. Local mom Danielle bought a cup for herself and her toddler son Henry, who proclaimed "I love this ice cream!"

Best Vegan Treat: Blossom

Columbus Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Streets

If dairy is problematic for you, Blossom has delicious soy shakes and ice cream offerings. Be transported back to your first Halloween or your first movie date with Blossom's "Butterfinger" shake. Through blending chocolate, cookie dough, and peanut butter soy ice cream with vanilla soy milk and a squirt of vegan chocolate sauce, it has achieved the closest thing to a liquid butterfinger there is.

Sit at the bar and soak in the low lighting and dark wood surroundings while you sip this extremely filling drink. The restaurant also serves a vegan bacon cheese burger if you want the full drive through experience.

The iced delights are so good you wont know they're actually vegan.

Best Ice Cream Sandwich: Jacques Torres

Amsterdam Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets

Jacques Torres may remind you of warm autumn treats — hot chocolate, freshly baked cookies — but the chocolatier also makes several delicious varieties of ice cream, including caramel, wicked (spicy chocolate), and chocolate. But his strawberry ice cream is outrageously good and pairs perfectly with his chocolate chunk cookies, making for one dynamite ice cream sandwich. 

The creamy strawberry ice cream contrasts the crispy and savory cookie in this generous sandwich that could easily be shared if cut in two. The store keeps the sandwich well chilled so there's no rush to gobble it down. Instead, let the dark chocolate mix with the fresh strawberry essence of the ice cream.

There are tables and outlets inside the store if you need to decompress from Century 21 or you can order outside from the ice cream cart.

Best Ice Cream Store for a Date: Bomboloni

Columbus Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets 

Bomboloni's sorbets and gelatos will transport you back to your vacation in Italy (or the one you imagined). From the soaring Italian background music to the pizzelles (a classic Italian cookie) that top each treat, to the Italian soda chilling in the fridge, this gelateria is striving for authenticity, and, it delivers in its desserts. The lemon sorbet is its standout dish. It's tangy but sweet with a crunchy texture. Tasters raved about the other flavors too.  

"The honey lavender was very zen," said Angela, who was joining her neighbor Paula for ice cream on their day off. Paula said the chocolate tasted "like a fudgecicle." 

The sorbets and gelatos are served in small, manageable cups perfect for a quick pick-me-up or a first date when you want to avoid a drippy mess.