In our recent roundup of supermarket ice cream, we found ourselves invoking adjectives like "Sinful," "Addictive," "Decadent.." etc. ... as if confessing to indulging in craven pleasures by the pint-full.
But then, who gives a lick? Especially when an Ice Cream Shoppe offers even greater temptations than any Stop and Shop. Simply put, the ice cream hand churned on site is usually fresher, creamier, denser, richer and, yes, far more seductive than its commercial cousins. In addition, these family owned shops serve a wider spectrum of original flavors, most sourced locally, than you’ll find on the freezer aisle.
Plus, is there any place in Connecticut more kid friendly than a scoop shop -- especially for the child inside you?
So, for you and your family’s summer pleasures, be they guilty or innocent, CTBites has chosen the best local ice cream emporia.
We bring you The Best Ice Cream Shoppes in CT.
TIMOTHY’S -- BRIDGEPORT
Open the door and step into long ago. First, there are the old ice cream churns on display, once used to crank desserts from a slurry of salt and cream..Next,a sweet, welcoming.fragrance. Fresh cream? Molten fudge? Actually, a stack of fresh waffle cones, still warm from the oven. And then the amazing,old fashioned ice cream, itself ... dense, rich, creamy, literally frozen in time. The menu boasts over 20 modern day flavors from Caramel Crunch to Chocolate Almond Chip, but if it’s your first visit, go for the timeless classics: Dutch Chocolate, Strawberry, or French Vanilla. One bite, and you’ll understand why Timothy’s has been a Black Rock fixture forever, Some complain that the shop is long in the tooth and could use a good cleaning. But when you're traveling back in time, what’s a little dust? Timothy’s is also available at Bullshead Market in SONO.
timothysicecream.weebly.com 2974 Fairfield Ave (203) 366-7496
WALNUT BEACH CREAMERY – MILFORD
Susan Patrick’s sprightly store-front ice cream shop just off Long Island sound is renowned for creative flavor fusions. We loved the violet shaded lavender-fig combo, its homespun, nutty tasting fruit given a spicy lavender kick. The Walnut Beach Mud gets raves, as does the Nutty Yankee – a mix of dried cranberries, coconut and almond. Susan also offers sugarless options (Rum Raisin and Peanut Butter), which inspired a commercial sugar-free line called “Iskream.” But the utlmate of fusions is summer, the beach, and ice cream. And therein lies the rub:. Susan’s treats are so irresistible; they’ll be devoured by the time you walk there.
walnutbeachcreamery.com 17 Broadway 203-878-7738
ASHLEY’S – NEW HAVEN, BRANFORD, HAMDEN, MADISON, GUILFORD
Nestled along the eastern Connecticut coast, this local chain of family owned shops has been honored by many polls as the state’s best ice cream. That claim may be debatable, but we found the flagship location in New Haven the iconic big city ice cream parlor: brightly colored tiles, surgically clean, and totally happy. Kids will delight in the carnival of toppings and mix ins, and parents will appreciate the fresh, naturally flavored ice cream itself. It’s hand made every day, five gallons at a time and, sourced with fruits and berries from local farms like our favorite Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford. But naughty triumphed over natural, and we chose a chocolate ice cream flecked with chocolate chips and topped with a gooey puddle of hot fudge. Decadent. Sinful. But not addictive, thank heaven.
Ashleysicecream.net 280 York Street (203) 776-7744
FERRIS ACRES CREAMERY -- NEWTOWN
Simply superb ice cream hand churned on a picturesque working dairy farm, the last in Fairfield County. You can see cows. You can smell them. Step up to the serving windows, and order from 40 inventive flavors, including daily specials. Elvis’ Dream rocks! Yep, vanilla ice cream mixed with peanut butter, banana pieces and dark chocolate chunks. A treat fit for a King. Then there’s Toasted Almond, an almond based ice cream with toasted coconut mixed in. Raspberry Swirl Chunk commands legions of fans, as does Salty Cow, a rural take on gourmet salted caramel ice cream. Ferris also makes sugarless ice creams that enjoy an amazing flavor. If you go at busy times, like after dinner and weekends, be prepared to stand in line for 20 minutes or more. But the mood is festive, the setting could be Wisconsin, and the wait really worth it. Mmmmmmmmm-ooo.
www.ferrisacrescreamery.com/news.html 144 Sugar Street (Route 202) (203) 426 8803
RICH FARM -- OXFORD
Featuring “dairy fresh” ice cream, this working family farm in New Haven County could be Ferris’ Doppelganger. Aficionados may debate which creamery makes a better ice-cream, but we crown both as winners. Each day, the Rich family cranks out 30 all natural flavors, from Razzmanian Devil -- vanilla ice cream, swirled with raspberry streaks and studded with chocolate chunks-- to German Chocolate Cake, with actual crumbles of cake, or as Rich Farm calls it, “Fahrvergnugen in a Cone.” While the Chocolate Peanut butter Swirl may come in a close second to the Elvis’ Dream served at Ferris, whatever your choice, the ice cream will be pasture-to-palate fresh. With multiple ordering windows, lines move fast and seating --both outside and in -- is ample. Come October, enjoy their legacy pumpkin ice cream as you take a hayride under a canopy of autumnal leaves.
Richfarmicecream.com 691 Oxford Road (203) 881 1040
DR. MIKE’S – BETHEL (MONROE)
For many ice cream worshipers, heaven touches earth at this acclaimed scoop shop in downtown Bethel. While only 8 choices of ice cream are available each day, Dr. Mike (aka Robert Allison) draws from a repertoire of over 90 potent flavors. Chocolate Lace and Cream is always on the menu, a super creamy vanilla ice cream studded with tiny lattices of brittle hard chocolate (confected by a local candy shop) The lace bits don’t so much melt, as shatter into frozen candy shards, creating a distinctive palate experience. If you don’t like that much going on in your mouth, opt for the Rich Chocolate (always on the menu, too) which Gourmet Magazine once dubbed the Best in the World. Dr. Mike’s Mint Chocolate Chip will also cure whatever ails you, as will his sundaes, topped with homemade whipped cream. He also delivers to a Dr. Mikes in Monroe, but the shop is not owned by Allison. We loved a coconut cream there, even though the Doctor was not in the house.
158 Greenwood Ave (203) 792-4388
DEBORAH ANN’S SWEETE SHOPPE – RIDGEFIELD
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Deborah Ann’s guarantees a sparkling smile. As you enter, a vast candy store extends to your left, its cases brimming with goodies like bon bons, chocolates, pralines, truffles, jelliebellies, lollipops, and gummies. To the right, you’ve got an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, its cases offering over 20 different flavors. We got both sides of the store in one scoop: English Toffee and Chocolate Fudge, which delivered gigantic chunks of delicious candy and super creamy ice cream. The crème caramel coconut tasted like a frozen Almond Joy, sans the almonds. For non-candy ice cream, their Purple Cow offered sweet and creamy proof that grapes were invented for more than wines, jelly, and popsicles. A perfect date place, especially for whispering sweet nothings. The ice cream is hand made by Mr. Shane’s, once a cherished Ridgefield scoop shop, now closed.
381 Main St (203) 438-0065
BLISS – COS COB
We found this amazing shop by accident. A small sign stuck in the ground read “Bliss Ice Cream,” with an arrow pointing to the back of a parking lot. There, as if springing from the page of a popup book, appeared a tiny, colorful ice cream stand. Inside, a blissful Wizard of Ice introduced us to his many frozen alchemies. We especially loved the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle, generous chunks of candy cast in a dense, but creamy, berry ice cream. His eyes a twinkle, he proudly showed off a case of frozen treats for pets.” Biscuits ‘n Cream” is deep frozen ice cream mixed with dog biscuit crumbs, then shaped into doggie bones.“ Do people eat them too?” we asked. He replied, “Only if they like dog biscuits.” Whimsical, wonderful, and very wise, the Wizard churns delights for all the family, including Toto.
551 East Putnam Ave 203 990 0360
LONGFORD'S OWN MADE ICE CREAM -- OLD GREENWICH
Everyone knows that the primary taste of Ice cream is sweet, sometimes augmented with sour fruits or salty caramel. But the Mud Pie flavor we enjoyed at Longford's in Old Greenwich, was more than just sweet. The blend of of chocolate and coffee created a rich underlayer that not only complimented but also intensified the sweetness. After a few bites, it hit us ...we were savoring umami, the fifth taste, which is indeed found in both cocoa and blended coffee. The Mud is our new Umami Mommy, one of 60 different flavors concocted by Nolan and Patricia West in Port Chester, which supplies both their Longford shops in Old Greenwich and Rye. They import their cocoa from Holland, use only premium nuts and candies, and mix in seasonal fruits. While The Cow Tracks were not as layered and complex as the Mud Pie, we liked the tasty blend of golden caramel and sweet prailine. Longford’s packaged ice cream can also be found at Frosty Bear in Westport, Glenville Scoops in Greenwich, and Swirl in Redding.
www.longfordsicecram. com 146 Sound Beach Avenue 203.637.0480
SWEET ASHLEY’S -- NORWALK
No relation to Ashleys in New Haven, this friendly hometown favorite was named after owner Steve Tyminski's daughter. They serve forty different tubs of handmade flavors, churned on premises. It takes about two days to make a five gallon tub, and over a hot summer week, customers can go through 90 of them. We were impressed with the flavor and crunch of Quicksand: -- butternut bar pieces and caramel swirled through dense vanilla. The Salty Turtle, caramel, chocolate, vanilla ice cream and salty roasted pecans, is a crowd pleaser, and was suggested by a customer. Cherry chocolate chip melted smoothly on the tongue and left an aftertaste of sweet fruit and cream, as if just fresh from in the dairy barn. Apropos, Calf Pasture Beach is a stone’s throw away.
sweetashleysicecream.com 248 East Avenue (203) 866-7740
GOFOR ICECREAM – GREENWICH, STAMORD, DARIEN, BRIDGEPORT, FAIRFIELD
With over 36 flavors on the menu, this Connecticut mini chain is open year round. Cherry Sensation is a stand out: cherries, chocolate fudge and "something crunchy" are mixed together in super smooth ice cream. Their strawberry malt is the best we’ve ever tasted.
BRENDAN’S 101 – ROWAYTON
Locals flock to this historic Rowayton institution, just off the river. A combination of scoop shop, deli, gallery, and town melting pot, Brendan’s is famous for its old time ice cream socials. Be the highest bidder at their annual charity drive, and win an ice cream cone a day for life.
Brendans101.com 101 Rowayton Avenue (203).853.1050
And yes, a gelato roundup is coming soon.