A perfect serving of soft serve swirls around and around, then finishes with a flourish, the very end touching the almost-but-not-quite pyramid of flavor, an infinite loop of effervescent creaminess. It can be dipped, it can be topped, it demands to be licked. Below are our five current favorite places to get soft serve in New York. By Jessica Allen.
One of the biggest truck-to-empire success stories in recent memory, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck began in 2009, serving crazy, cleverly named concoctions of soft serve, with a side of happy vibes and witty banter. The first brick-and-mortar store opened in the East Village in 2011, then came another in the West Village, then came several pop-ups around the US. The salty pimp (pictured) is vanilla ice cream shot through with veins of dulce de leche, sprinkled with sea salt, and dipped in chocolate. It’s as good as it looks.
Victory Garden sources all of its ingredients, including goat milk, directly from local farms. Yes, goat milk. The soft serve on offer at this little shop in the West Village is made with goat milk, rich in nutrients and lower in fat than cow’s milk, and is inspired by traditional Middle Eastern recipes. Flavors rotate, but the the popularity of the salted caramel (pictured) just about guarantees its presence. What’s it taste like? An even airier, even icier version of soft serve.
Affiliated with David Chang and his Momofuku restaurants, Milk Bar sells cookies, cakes, pies, and soft serve, with a kooky twist, thanks to the imagination of chef/owner/genius Christina Tosi. Among the flavors on offer are miso butterscotch, yuzu cherrysicle, blueberry pie, and cereal milk (pictured), which really does evoke the toasty, sugary remnants at the bottom of the bowl. You can almost hear the Saturday morning cartoons in the background, maybe even your mom shouting, “Go clean your room.”
Chef Michael White opened Nicoletta in 2012 as a showcase for his particular style of pizza, which evokes the thick crusts and weighty add-ons served in his hometown in Wisconsin. While the pizzas have drawn mixed reviews, the buttery soft serve made from fior di latte has proven to be a huge hit. Plain is great, or you can get it smothered in rosemary caramel popcorn, citrus jam, and blueberry limoncello, among other toppings, or dunked in a root beer or Fanta float.
Maybe we’re cheating a bit on this one. Although Chloe’s serves soft serve, it’s made with just three ingredients, not one of which is milk: water, organic cane sugar, and fruit. This Union Square shop is a dream come true for lactose-intolerant folks, waist-watchers, gluten haters, allergy sufferers, and anyone else who’d rather his/her fruit came in chilled, almost liquid, incredibly refreshing form. Choices range from blood orange to plum to dark chocolate, made with seeds of the cacao fruit.