Tours offers a sweet-tasting view of Manhattan through ice cream


Published July 26, 2013


Tours offers a sweet-tasting view of Manhattan through ice cream

Tours offers a sweet-tasting view of Manhattan through ice cream

In honor of National Ice Cream Month, celebrated with an ice cream tour of Manhattan.

First Stop: Smush

Smush is one of the most innovated ice cream shops you’re likely to find. At Smush, they take the idea of an ice cream sandwich literally. The shop, hidden inside Pizza Bash in Union Square, is a deli-style dessert bar.

New York is famous for its delis, co-owner Dan Fischer explained while making Smush’s signature “Chocolate Covered Streuben,” so they decided to design ice cream sandwiches with an authentic deli sandwich feel.

The result: ice cream that looks identical to a real deli sandwich. The “bread” is made from six varieties of cookies, including red velvet and French toast, and baked into molds that give the cookies the look of bread loaves.

The “Streuben” looks exactly like a reuben, with thin slices of fudge used as “meat.” Even while savoring the amazing combination of flavors, it was hard not to do a double take.

Second Stop: Yogorino

The next stop was Yogorino, an Italian frozen yogurt chain invented by a biochemist. The chain has been operating in Italy for close to two decades, but it only recently came to the States. This one has only been in New York since April.

The New York shop is owned by Yana Kors, a woman who has a passion for food, especially the yogurt she sells. Tolbert calls her Mama Yana, and the name is a perfect fit. Kors is the quintessential mother. She forces visitors to try everything the shop offers, gelato, yogurt, espresso and any combination of the three. If patrons can’t finish what she serves them, Kors makes sure they promise to return.

Highlights included a vegan chocolate gelato that would turn even a meat-loving fanatic into a veggie. It’s so creamy, it’s hard to believe there is zero dairy in it.

As for the yogurt, it’s clear the flavor was designed by a biochemist. The taste hits every region of your palate, starting with tart then sweet then leaving with a final umami.

Tolbert summed it up well.

“Dessert is an emotional experience,” she said, digging into Yogorino gelato. “And that’s why we want to bring you to the best.”

Third Stop: Rice to Riches

In every tour, Tolbert likes to throw in what she calls a “curve ball.” Rice to Riches is just that. It’s cold rice pudding. The childhood fears of gooey rice pudding disappear at Rice to Riches. The interior design of the shop is as futuristic as an alien space ship and the flavors are just as innovative. The shop offers a total of 20 flavors with options like Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug, Fluent in French Toast and It Takes Two to Peach Mango, as well as classics like Chocolate Pudding.

A word of advice: try everything, and with this tour that will be easy. The best way to order is with a buddy system. Pick someone to share with and make sure you both enjoy the flavors.

Another perk to sharing, splitting the calories. Not that you should be thinking about calories on an ice cream tour, but the pudding may put you over the top – and there’s still many more shops to visit.

Fourth Stop: M'o Il Gelato

The next stop is in Little Italy for – what else? – gelato. M'o Il Gelato seriously stands out among the scattered gelaterias throughout Little Italy.

The shop’s owner, Massimo Galeano, is from Bologna and noticed something when he tried American gelato. It tastes nothing like the gelato he had back home. The difference? Gelato here is made in large batches and saved for a later date. Galeano decided to open a gelateria that focused on perfecting the flavor, even if that meant making less gelato.

At Mo’ Il Gelato the gelato comes in small batches and when it runs out, it’s gone. There’s no back up storage. What you see in the case was made fresh and that is all the shop has. For this reason, the store opens at 1 p.m. every day, to give the staff time to whip up all the gelato they will need for the day.

The stand out flavor: mango. It tasted exactly like eating a fresh mango. The salted caramel peanut gelato was also impressive, with swirls of peanuts and caramel mixed into salty gelato.

Fifth Stop: The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has been family owned and operated for more than 28 years. If that doesn’t inspire confidence in an ice cream tester, we’re not sure what will.

“What's the secret to our delectable frozen products?” reads the shop’s website. “The answer is simple: ice cream making is in our genes.”

And it’s true. The flavors represent a wonderful fusion of classic American ice cream and traditional Chinese flavors. Customers fill the store, asking for flavors like black sesame, ginger and avocado.

To sign up for a tour:

Website: Sugartooth Tours’ Ice Cream Summer Sundays
Dates: Tours run Sundays through Aug. 18
Cost: $50, includes five to six stops
Contact: 1-800-838-3006