Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash
Mar 10, 2022
5 great Brooklyn-based ice cream brands (that aren’t Van Leeuwen) at a bodega near you
Scoop local! Here's a handy roundup of Brooklyn-born pints (and cones) that are currently available at your neighborhood market
Van Leeuwen might be the biggest Brooklyn ice cream success story in recent years—in terms of sheer scale and expansion—but it’s not the only brand to make waves.
A few others have gone from humble beginnings in the borough to shelves in stores across the country.
Here’s a roundup of some other Brooklyn-born pints (and cones) to keep an eye out for in your local market.
A smattering of Ample Hills scoop shops are still scattered around Brooklyn, and the creatively-flavored ice cream, which many believed in its heyday to be the best tasting in the city (or the world?), is found in stores from Philadelphia to New Jersey to Massachusetts. It can be ordered online too. Just don’t expect it at Disney World again anytime soon.
(Original founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna now run a new shop, The Social, at 816 Washington Ave. in Prospect Heights, but that ice cream isn’t on store shelves—yet. It can be delivered nationwide, however, through Goldbelly.)
Founded in 2007 by actress Jennie Dundas and her friend Alexis Miesen, Blue Marble claims to be New York City’s only USDA certified 100 percent organic ice cream company. It’s also behind a nonprofit that looks to start ice cream shops in conflict or natural disaster zones across the globe; so far it has two, one in Rwanda and one in Haiti.
Outside of Blue Marble’s flagship Brooklyn shop, which is located a block from Prospect Park’s Grand Army Plaza at 186 Underhill Ave., the no-nonsense flavors are sold in markets across the city and in Whole Foods nationwide. They can be shipped across the U.S. too.
When Americans think of Indian cuisine, ice cream doesn’t often spring to mind. But India has its own unique dairy-based dessert to salivate over: kulfi. Made only of milk and flavorings (no eggs or preservatives), it ends up tasting denser and creamier than most ice cream—akin to a frozen dessert custard. It also doesn’t melt as quickly.
Pooja Bavishi launched Malai in 2015 to bring the tradition and flavors of her childhood to Brooklyn. The result includes flavors such as Agate Candy and Saffron, Lemon Cardamom, Pumpkin Garam Masala Crumble and Masala Chai. Bavishi’s Cobble Hill store at 268 Smith St. often rotates its menu, so frequent visits are rewarded. Malai is also found in stores throughout the tri-state area (and one in Chicago), in addition to Whole Foods. It ships nationally and can be scooped up via most delivery services, from Instacart to FreshDirect.
Hannah Bae started Noona’s out of a similar desire: to celebrate nostalgic Korean flavors from her childhood in Queens, in a sweet way. It started with a toasted rice flavor meant to invoke a rice snack called noo-roong-ji, but Noona’s (Korean for “older sister”) expanded into Yuzu Blossom, Matcha Green Tea, Turmeric Honeycomb, Black Sesame and more.
It struck a chord with Korean Americans. Author Jenny Han “can’t live without” the Turmeric Honeycomb flavor. Rocker Japanese Breakfast collaborated with Bae to create a flavor inspired by her most recent album. An East Village restaurant enlisted Bae to create a “Squid Game”-inspired dessert.
Although Bae has outsourced some of the production to different boroughs and facilities, she started the Noona’s legend by herself in Cobble Hill and still “proudly” keeps her headquarters in Brooklyn. Find her creations in Whole Foods and in other retail shops across the country.
No, The Konery does not sell actual ice cream. But it has revolutionized the ice cream cone industry since starting as a one-woman operation in Sheepshead Bay. Kristine Tonkonow began making custom waffle cones at her parents’ place and in 2014 officially founded the company, which has taken the creativity most makers had reserved for ice cream and applied it to its crunchy vessel. Its colorful cone flavors include the likes of red velvet, toasted coconut, orange creamsicle and birthday cake.
The brand has taken off faster than a scoop melts in summer and can be found in stores all over the country. It still produces cones out of a facility in the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
Mr. Green Tea Ice Cream Company
This company may no longer be headquartered in Brooklyn (it’s now just across the Hudson in Keyport, New Jersey), but it’s credited with something freezer-worthy cool: bringing green tea and other Japanese flavors to the U.S. ice cream market.
A couple of decades after World War II, in which he served, Santo “Sam” Emanuele noticed a growing interest in Japanese cuisine and founded the brand in his native Brooklyn. You can find Mr. Green Tea products—other flavors include red bean and candied ginger—everywhere from dessert menus at upscale restaurants to Whole Foods and Stop & Shop markets across the country. Its pints have undergone a sleek Van Leeuwen-style redesign in recent years.
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