Where To Find The World’s Best Ice Cream
Raw milk and black coconut ash cone at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, New York. Photograph by Mr Alan Gastelum, courtesy of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
Seven top spots for frozen desserts.
Synonymous with sunny climes, good times and perhaps a Mr Luciano Pavarotti reference or two, ice cream is a language that’s understood the world over. Beyond the surface, though, it’s a different story, with fiercely guarded family recipes, science-led innovation and debates of origin helping shape the new flavours and formats appearing on our menus. It’s peak season for frozen desserts, so we’ve put the ice cream-versus-gelato debate (the latter being denser, silkier and supposedly healthier) to one side to pick out seven of the world’s top spots for game-changing scoops. No flake required.
In a city famed for generations-old gelato makers, it’s tough to make an impact, but since chef Ms Maria Agnese Spagnuolo opened her first outlet in 2003, the artisan methods of this expanding enterprise have won their place in Roman hearts. Ms Spagnuolo, who’s written a book on gelato’s health benefits, says her all-natural, gluten-free flavours blend family recipes with far-flung inspiration and with a new store opening in Los Angeles this summer, her creations are about to go global.
What to order: Bacio del Principe with hazelnuts and gianduia cream.
Gelato Messina, Sydney
Ice cream selection at Gelato Messina, Sydney. Photograph courtesy of Gelato Messina
A firm fixture on the global ice-cream award circuit, this Australian institution opened its doors in Sydney’s Darlinghurst back in 2002 and, thanks to a choice of 40 flavours that includes five weekly specials, the queues haven’t dissipated since. Co-founder Mr Declan Lee attributes this to the attention to detail lavished on ingredients. As well as making everything in-house, Messina owns a hazelnut farm and dairy farm, complete with 250 Jersey cattle.
What to order: salted caramel and white choc chip.
B Sweet Dessert Bar, Los Angeles
West Coast dessert specialist B Sweet runs a fleet of food trucks across Los Angeles, which sells everything from bread pudding to baked pies. This year it’s piqued the interest of gelato enthusiasts, thanks to the creation of its Halo ice-cream doughnut – ice cream (flavours range from mint chocolate and rocky road to cookies and cream) heat-encased in a freshly made glazed doughnut. Novelty maybe, but we’re sold.
What to order: Halo hot-pressed ice-cream doughnut.
Blu Top, London
Bourbon old-fashioned sammy at Blu-Top, London. Photograph courtesy of Blu Top
The shifting small-batch list of flavours sold by Mr Richard Makin from his royal-blue Piaggio Porter van has won a cult following since he set up in 2015. Now found across several London markets, Mr Makin’s art is his reimagining of the ice-cream sandwich using homemade cookies, high-end natural ingredients and a dash of invention that he says stems from “reminding people why being a kid was so much better than being a grown-up”.
What to order: cinnamon French toast.
Pierre Geronimi, Monaco
Corsican ice cream maestro Mr Pierre Geronimi claims his ambition is to “create surprise with subtle alliances and unknown products” and his unusual flavours have endeared him to Monaco’s well-heeled locals. His creations use high-end ingredients, including vanilla from Bora Bora, Maison Bonnat praline and L’Arbre à Café coffee. Beyond the regular scoops and cones, you can push the oligarch-worthy boat out and opt for a cocktail-style verrine serving.
What to order: vanilla grand cru Bora Bora.
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, New York
Photograph by Mr Alan Gastelum, courtesy of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
This sleek Lower East Side spot is the brainchild of former pastry chef Mr Nicholas Morgenstern, who applied his culinary expertise from stints at Daniel and the Gramercy Tavern to the world of gelato. Mr Morgenstern claims to have been “dreaming of these flavours, this style and this place for years”, and his texture-driven, small-batch creations play out across ice creams, soda floats and sundaes that have won him a slot at Frieze art fair.
What to order: summer berry cream.
18 Smaker, Stockholm
Set in a chequerboard-tiled, pared-back space to the north of Södermalm, 18 Smaker (18 flavours), serves locally made, 100 per cent natural ice creams with flavours that rotate with the seasons. This year the team have paired up with local partners to add a coffee shop and cheesecake emporium to their offering, making it a destination for Sweden’s sweetest toothed.
What to order: blueberry.