Every summer New York City's smothering heat waves force Astorians to seek ways to cool down. Some hide out in the sole room with the air conditioner. A few eat spicy food. Others dawdle at the Astoria Pool. But the honestly sweet way to beat the heat is to eat ice cream!
Astoria and Long Island City are the home to a number of shops for ice cream, gelato, Italian ices and frozen yogurt. Sure, you could pick up a pint at your local bodega, but it's a lot more fun to go out and get a cup or a cone.
If you're looking for old-school NYC gelato, La Guli Bakery (29-15 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY, 718-728-5612) is your best bet in town. There are about 10 flavors of gelato offerred, including tiramisu, hazelnut, and La Guli chocolate, which has a delicious caramel ribbon running through the chocolaty gelato.
La Guli also sells Italian ices. The ices are pleasantly fruity and not overly sweet, like some Italian ices can be. Mango, lemon, and pineapple are particularly delicious.
Up the street on Ditmars Blvd is Martha's Country Bakery (36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY, 718-545-9737). Martha's is a cute spot where you can sit and enjoy a piece of poundcake, cupcake, coffee, and... gelato! There are about a dozen flavors, particularly popular are hazelnut, pistachio, and mint chip.
In fact, the gelato is one of the things that keeps people coming back to Martha's, along with the pound cake and cupcakes. They'll even make you a gelato shake!
Astoria has yet another Italian bakery that offers gelato, and that would be Terrizi Pastry Shop (35-14 30th Ave, Astoria, NY, 718-726-9698). The gelato falvors include the usual suspects of hazelnut and tiramisu, and more unusual tastes like red velvet. A regular serving of gelato is rather large. At this time of writing, it's $4 for a generous amount.
Like La Guli, Terrizi serves good Italian ices, too, with flavors like chocolate chip and lemon. And as is typical here in the east, gelato and ices are only available in the summertime, so grab an ice or gelato while you can!
Igloo Cafe (22-26 31st St, Astoria, NY, 718-726-7700), known mostly as a diner/coffee shop, lives up to its chilly name by offering ice cream. The back of the menu displays all the different kinds of ice cream sundae creations. Some are simple, like the two scoop sundae - and some are more complex, like the banana split. All ice cream is made by Sedutto, a commercial brand with origins in NYC.
You can also walk in and order ice cream by the scoop. You'll find your old favorites like chocolate, vanilla, and mocha almond fudge, as well as new classics like dulce de leche and moose tracks. Igloo also offers Tasti-D-Lite, which can be ordered on its own or mixed in with a smoothie.
Malu (12-09 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY, 718-729-6258), a relative newcomer at the writing of this article, is an artisanal ice cream shop in Long Island City. The owners, Sergio and Jennifer, were so obsessed with making ice cream (they even studied ice cream with confectioners) that they decided to open an ice cream shop in their LIC neighborhood. They named it after their two sons, Mateo and Luc.
The ice cream is flavorful and rich, and although the cost of a cone might seem pricey, there is a lot of bang for your buck in there. The ice cream is made with quality ingredients and posseses a rich texture and balanced taste; the serving is quite generous, too. You'll find vanilla and chocolate, as well as mint chip, chocolate hazelnut, mango sorbet, and pink velvet, among others. Malu has even teamed up with with Sweetleaf and offers a Rocket Fuel drink in ice cream form!
Frozen yogurt is enjoying a renaissance these days. Much of what first was offered during froyo's comeback was very sour - like plain yogurt that was frozen. This is not the frozen yogurt of the 1980s, which was sweet like soft serve ice cream.
However, one can find that elusive sweet frozen yogurt at Twirlz Yogurt Bar (28-17 Astoria Blvd, NY, 718-204-1462). It's very reminiscent of the froyo places of the 1980s - just a few flavors and lots of toppings. Twirlz offers four flavors - vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and a "flavor of the week." Toppings range from nuts to candies to sprinkles. Cones, cups, and even shakes are available.
On the other hand, Berry Lover (37-11 35th Ave, NY, 718-786-2200) offers the more contemporary sour frozen yogurt, as well as gelato. The frozen yogurt comes in a few flavors, with plain and green tea being some of the most popular. The popular pomegranate is also offered. Dry and wet toppings are available, which can tame the sourness.
Berry Lover's gelato is on the other end of the spectrum and can be quite sweet. Classic flavors like hazelnut, vanilla, and tiramisu are available. Gelato is also provided by the cup or the cone, and the staff will even make a shake for you from either gelato or frozen yogurt. Additionally, Korean shaved ice is also on the menu, for a more unusual (and delicious) chilly pick-me-up. Berry Lover is convenient to the UA Kaufman 14 theaters, so it's a great place to stop after a movie.
Finall, there is the ubiquitous Mister Softee truck. Loved by children and adults alike, the roving trucks offer soft serve ice cream - dipped or plain - in minimal flavors (chocolate and vanilla). Ice cream novelties are available. There's often a truck hanging out down by Astoria Park during the summertime.