The world’s greatest ice-cream stores

10 min


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74 shares, 135 points

Nardini’s, Ayrshire

Nardini’s in Ayrshire © Alamy

Set in the seaside town of Largs, Nardini’s is a gelateria with a history of excellence and internecine warfare. Founded in the ’30s by Tuscan-born Pietro Nardini, the small café was loved for its combination of rich Scottish dairy and Italian flavour. Then came the “ice-cream wars” of the 1980s, when family relations broke down between brothers Peter and Aldo, and the ice-cream van became briefly equated with gangsterism on the streets of Glasgow. Eventually, two Italian-Scots brought Nardini’s back from the brink, reopening in 2008 with a menu of decadently topped sundaes and takeaway scoops. Today it’s a slice of art deco on the seaside, and a much loved Scottish institution. nardinis.co.uk Camilla Bell-Davies


Sugar Hill Creamery, New York

Ice cream from Sugar Hill Creamery
Ice cream from Sugar Hill Creamery © Evi Abeler

The interior of Sugar Hill Creamery
Sugar Hill Creamery in Harlem, New York © Perry Hall

Launched in 2017, this ice-cream store run by husband-and-wife team Nick Larsen and Petrushka Bazin Larsen offers classic flavours alongside unique creations inspired by the couple’s midwestern and Caribbean backgrounds, as well as Harlem itself. The coffee-based “Tuma Buna”, for instance, is named after Harlem music influencer Tuma Basa and an Ethiopian coffee-making ceremony. Another flavour, “Rucker Park”, pairs watermelon and black sesame. Other branches have opened in Hamilton Heights and Dumbo. sugarhillcreamery.com Ajesh Patalay


Jymy, Aura, Finland 

Despite its subarctic climate, Finland is one of the world’s highest consumers of ice cream per capita. Horst Neumann of Jymy tells me this is due to a culture of private indulgence and because Finns like to celebrate their excellent dairy. (They even have a tradition where people from all over the country come to watch cows released into the fields after winter.) Jymy’s flavours are Nordic classics: liquorice, lingonberry jam and pine – the last created in 2017 to mark the centenary of Finland’s independence from the Russians. It’s a flavour that reminds people of the hardships of eating pine needles when food was scarce: as an ice cream it’s delicious, with a resiny hint of forest after rain. jymy.fi Camilla Bell-Davies


Gelateria della Passera, Florence

It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall on the piazza of the same name, but it makes up for its unassuming dimensions with a selection of organic, hand-made gelati that run the gamut from the standards (pistachio, hazelnut, coffee) to some creative riffs, like an almond milk-based confection with camomile. And then there are the three kings I’d travel the length of the peninsula to get a taste of: fior di latte with fresh mint, rosewater, and lavender. gelateriadellapassera.it Maria Shollenbarger


Morelli’s Gelato, Broadstairs, Kent 

Morelli’s Gelato
Morelli’s Gelato dates back to 1932

There are now Morelli parlours everywhere from Baghdad to the Philippines, but the family-run mothership on the Kent coast dates back to 1932 – a glorious deco throwback of Formica and pink leatherette booths, with a jukebox and soda fountain. Everything that goes into the elaborate sundaes is made on-site with fresh ingredients, and no artificial colouring or flavouring. They’re purists here and don’t offer it willingly, but the holy grail is a scoop of pistachio with vanilla soft serve on top. morellisgelato.com Mark C O’Flaherty


Jones Ice Cream, Berlin

The interior at Jones Ice Cream
Jones Ice Cream makes 800 waffle cones a day

Some of Berlin’s most innovative culinary entrepreneurs began their restaurants in food trucks, and that includes Gabrielle Jones, founder of the city’s beloved Jones Ice Cream. Jones gained a cult following for her decadent ice-cream sandwiches after moving here from Paris in 2013; today, she and her partner, Jan Diekmann, have a permanent location in the Schöneberg neighbourhood. Although the duo no longer do ice-cream sandwiches, they offer a scoop on their chewy homemade cookies. Locals are lured by the wafting scent of waffle cones – they make 800 a day – and the tantalising flavours, from Carrot Cake to Yogurt Rhubarb Crumble. jonesicecream.com Gisela Williams


Two Islands Ice Cream, Abersoch

The interior of Two Islands Ice Cream
Two Islands Ice Cream in Abersoch, north Wales

Ice creams at Two Islands Ice Cream
The ice cream is created entirely from scratch, even down to the ripples

There’s good reason the queue in the beach village of Abersoch in north Wales snakes to the door of the old bank. Now transformed into the small-batch ice-cream parlour Two Islands, its owners Laura Reynolds and Jack Pollitt make ice cream so delicious it makes grown men and women want to cry. Created entirely from scratch – right down to the ripples and cakey chunks – the ice creams vary daily, depending on the best natural local ingredients to be found. Not a stabiliser in sight. Raspberry Ripple is the cult classic, selling more than all other flavours combined, but if you visit on a Coffee & Cookies day, you’ve hit the jackpot. twoislandsicecream.co.uk Sophie de Rosée


The Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco 

The New Orleans Hangover, at The Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco
The New Orleans Hangover at The Ice Cream Bar © Nick Vasilopoulos.

This 1930s-inspired soda fountain and ice-cream bar in Cole Valley – a few blocks from Golden Gate Park – launched in 2012 with an old-school menu of floats, frappés, phosphates, malts, lactarts and boozy fountain drinks, including its now iconic Dublin Honey (Guinness, caramelised honey ice cream, Valrhona dark chocolate syrup and 10-year tawny port). The servers, known as “soda jerks”, wear bow ties and crisp white hats, and among the all-American ice cream staples are fudge brownie, banana puddin’ and vegan coconut peanut brittle. theicecreambarsf.com Ajesh Patalay


Apiary, Singapore

The counter at Apiary
The counter at Apiary

Blue Milk ice cream
Blue Milk ice cream

With three locations, including one on buzzing Neil Road, as well as a current pop-up, Apiary brings old-fashioned ice-creamery tradition to the Lion City, but unleashes some unexpected taste notes alongside the mint chocolate and plain vanilla: there’s Korean perilla leaf, one called Blue Milk (milk base, blue pea flowers, sea salt), Pink Peppercorn (speaks for itself; not for the faint of palate) and black sesame. The ingredients have feel-good pedigrees, coming from Tanjong Pagar, the local market, and hydroponic farms across the island. apiary.sg Maria Shollenbarger


Ampersand Gelato, Bangkok

The exterior of Ampersand Gelato
Ampersand Gelato in Wattana, Bangkok

Candied bacon, butterfly pea, lavender and Earl Grey tea… The flavours at this small-batch ice-cream parlour take their cues from different countries around the world. This is a marble-clad slice of Italy in Bangkok’s upscale shopping district, Wattana. Look out for the Greek-inspired feta and fig. ampersandgelato.com Rosanna Dodds


Gelupo, London

Blood-orange granita at Gelupo
Blood-orange granita at Gelupo © Steven Joyce

Run by the same team behind Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo across the street, this artisan gelateria and espresso bar in Soho – deemed “divine” by Nigella Lawson – opened in 2010 and majors on seasonal ingredients such as alphonso mango. Regular flavours include blood-orange granita, bitter chocolate, ricotta sour cherry and the creamy, gooey “bacio” (kiss) named for the famous Italian hazelnut chocolate sweet. gelupo.com Ajesh Patalay


Cadore, Buenos Aires

In the late 19th-century, Cadore, a region in northern Italy, became home to an eponymous ice-cream parlour that kept the surrounding area in frozen desserts for more than 60 years. Today the legacy continues in Buenos Aires, where Cadore’s owners moved following the Second World War. Flavours have remained mostly the same, but the new favourite, of course, is dulce de leche. heladeriacadore.com.ar Rosanna Dodds


Günther Gelato, Rome

Günther Gelato, Rome
Günther Gelato in Rome © Alessandro Barattelli

Ice cream from Gelateria Günther
The gelateria only uses small-batch organic ingredients and micro-filtered organic milk © Alessandro Barattelli

Making the “best gelateria in Rome” call is contentious, given the highly partisan nature of the topic. The fact that Günther Rohregger isn’t even Roman – he hails from Alto-Adige, far to the mountainous north – might scandalise some, but it doesn’t detract at all from the excellent quality, and supreme deliciousness, of his product. All small-batch organic ingredients and micro-filtered organic milk account for the goodness. The must-try flavour: pino mugo, made with cream and essential oil of mountain pine needles; unexpectedly zingy and refreshing. gunthergelatoitaliano.com Maria Shollenbarger


Berthillon, Paris

Opened in 1954 by glacier Raymond Berthillon, whose black and white portrait hangs over the kitchen entrance, this ice-cream parlour on Île St-Louis is still run by the same family. The ice creams are made using only natural ingredients, without chemical additives or artificial sweeteners. Among the 70-plus flavours are knock-out fruit sorbets such as pink grapefruit and raspberry-and-rose, as well as richer ice creams including Armagnac and prunes, salted caramel and bitter chocolate. berthillon.fr Ajesh Patalay


Dondurmino Gelato, Alaçatı, Turkey

The exterior of Dondurmino Gelato
Dondurmino Gelato in Alaçatı, Turkey

“Gelato is a happiness guaranteed product,” says the website of Dondurmino Gelato, which is clear to point out the differences between gelato and ice cream. (Ice cream, apparently, is around seven degrees colder.) Owner Mehmet Ali Akbulut makes his preferred style of dessert with more than 150 different recipes, offering Alaçatı’s various holidaymakers a choice of traditional Turkish and Italian flavours. dondurmino.com/en Rosanna Dodds


Santini, Cascais, Lisbon

The hardest decision to make on holiday should always be what ice-cream flavour to have that day. Faced with the sea of colourful flavours at Santini, the kitsch Portuguese ice-cream institution that opened in 1949, optionitis is guaranteed. Families now flock to parlours across Portugal, but the one on Cascais’ chic Avenue Valbom delivers on flavour as well as top-notch people-watching – if you can forgive its blindingly white interior. The sorbets are pilgrimage-worthy. santini.pt Sophie de Rosée


Unframed Ice Cream, Cape Town

Unframed Ice Cream, Cape Town
Unframed Ice Cream in Cape Town © Claire Gunn

Blackcurrant ice cream at Unframed
Blackcurrant ice cream at Unframed © Claire Gunn

The secret to the success of Unframed’s ice-cream range is its texture: silky scoops of perfectly churned desserts in flavours such as spicy mango, burnt white chocolate, and apricot and bergamot. Owner Yann Rey likes to keep things simple, a preference that’s echoed in his whitewashed flagship in Woodstock, Cape Town’s creative and cultural centre. unframedicecream.com Rosanna Dodds


Il Gelatauro, Bologna 

A short walk from the city centre, this gelateria founded in 1998 by Calabrian ice-cream maker Gianni Figliomeni counts Alice Waters of Chez Panisse among its devotees. The seasonal fruit gelati includes bergamot and jasmine-scented Principe di Calabria and Regno delle Due Sicilie, made using pistachios from Bronte (the village in Sicily) known as L’oro verde (green gold). Figliomeni’s American wife, artist Angela Lorenz, is responsible for the store’s lavish displays and playful logo: a bull with ice-cream cones for horns. gelatauro.com Ajesh Patalay


Pidapipó, Melbourne

Pidapipo in Melbourne’s CBD
Pidapipo in Melbourne’s CBD

Passionfruit Vanilla Slice gelato
Passionfruit Vanilla Slice gelato

This micro-chain of three gelaterie is known as much for its ebullient design (profusions of neon, pink terrazzo floors) as for the seasonal rotation of flavours that combine classics, riffs on classics (a shortage of ingredients and some creative repurposing one year begot the now hugely popular Nutella Swirl), and antipodean specials made with local cheeses and honeys. There’s chocolate on tap to line your cone, and an affogato that’s a masterclass of the genre. pidapipo.com Maria Shollenbarger


Fryst, Stockholm 

Ice cream at Fryst, Stockholm
Fryst’s 14 flavours are full of imagination

With just 14 flavours, this family-run parlour is at the smaller end of Stockholm’s surprisingly bustling ice-cream scene – Stockholms Glasshus, just over the Barnhusviken, has a range of 48. But for what it lacks in choice, Fryst makes up for in imagination: along with the standard vanillas and chocolates are seasonal combinations such as cardamom and rhubarb; pineapple and blood orange; and saffron, raisin and almond. Choose up to three scoops, or take your favourite home by the half litre. fryst.net Rosanna Dodds


Island Gelato, Auckland

The exterior of Island Gelato
Island Gelato in Auckland

Ice cream at Island Gelato
Co-founder Ana Schwarz sells flavours using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients

Waiheke Island is renowned for its sprawling vineyards, cliff-top coastal walks and white-sand beaches. For sugary refuelling, visitors can retreat to Oneroa Village, home to the famous Oyster Inn and, nearby, Island Gelato. This ice-cream shop, which opened in 2014 and is co-founded by former Masterchef New Zealand contestant Ana Schwarz, sells flavours from basil and lime to Waiheke plum, each made using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. For those who can’t make the ferry trip from Auckland, Island Gelato recently opened an outpost on Ponsonby Road. islandgelato.co.nz Jessica Beresford


Caffè Sicilia, Noto

Campari Sicilia orange at the Chef’s Table, Caffè Sicilia
Campari Sicilia orange at the Chef’s Table, Caffè Sicilia

Corrado Assenza, the fourth-generation owner of this 130-year-old café in Sicily, has been hailed the “Ferran Adrià of pastry” for his innovations in confectionery (he famously once paired fresh oysters with almond granita). Alongside cannoli, biscotti and cassata that look like works of art, you’ll find granita and gelato showcasing the finest Sicilian ingredients. These include oro (lemon, almond and saffron) and fior di spezie (lemon, ginger, nutmeg, black mulberry and Sichuan pepper). caffesicilia.it Ajesh Patalay


Hio Ice Cream Atelier, Tokyo

The exterior of Hio Ice Cream Atelier
Hio Ice Cream Atelier in Tokyo

This strategically placed scoop shop allows visitors to peer into the windows of Hio’s factory in Jiyugaoka, where chefs in stark white overalls turn Japanese produce – think plums from Fuefuki, melons from Hokota and mangoes from Kobayashi – into cups of small-batch ice cream. A quick freezing time leaves the texture airy and light; enjoy quickly on the low sitting wall outside. hioicecream.com Rosanna Dodds


Sweet Rose Creamery, Los Angeles

Wait: Angelenos consume sugar and dairy? Indeed they do, if the success of this all-organic, all-fresh Santa Monica institution (with a second location in the Brentwood Country Mart) is any indication. Beyond a host of moreish flavours like peach crumble, sweet corn, salted caramel and Thai tea, Sweet Rose has the sundae game down pat; the five variations are embellished variously with crispy almonds, chocolate cone bits, cookie dough and torched marshmallows. There are dairy-free options too. Naturally. sweetrosecreamery.com Maria Shollenbarger


Three Twenty, Dublin

Three Twenty, Dublin
Three Twenty on Dublin’s Drury Street

Ice cream at Three Twenty
All flavours at Three Twenty are made on-site each day

Although this Drury Street newcomer claims to be “focused on ice cream rather than toppings and sweets”, there is plenty of the latter to choose from. But beneath the delicious Oreo, honeycomb and brownie pieces is a base made from one of the 12 Jersey herds across Ireland. Ingredients are seasonally sourced from local farmers, with all flavours – even the classic chocolate – made on site that day. threetwenty.ie Rosanna Dodds

What’s your favourite ice-cream parlour?

Let us know below, and we’ll publish your nominations in a forthcoming story…

Source: Financial Times


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