Spring is finally here. The sun is out, the coats are off, and there’s only one thing on every newly defrosted Yalie’s mind: ice cream! Fortunately, New Haven offers a wide range of ice cream venues where Elis can satisfy that springtime craving.
Chapel Sweet Shoppe
1042 Chapel St.
Sun-Sat: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
As its name suggests, the decidedly quaint Chapel Sweet Shoppe is not strictly an ice cream parlor.
“There are two businesses here,” co-owner Donald Couto said, referencing the fact that Chapel splits the year between its candy business, which dominates in the winter, and its ice cream business, which takes over as soon as the first warm weather hits.
In the spring and summer, Chapel goes through 25-30 tubs per week of its Double Rainbow ice cream, a San Francisco brand that Couto called “so flavorful it’s illegal.”
While the second part of that statement might not be exactly true, the first part certainly is. Chapel’s ice cream is perhaps the best ice cream of any shop in New Haven, rich and fully saturated with both classic and innovative flavors. The fact that Chapel is both a candy store and an ice cream parlor is also an advantage to customers when it comes to choosing toppings, because any of Chapel’s penny candy can be used on the ice cream. Though it has a rather squeezed service area and no seating, the shop (or the shoppe) offers a classic and fulfilling ice cream experience at a reasonable $2.97 for a regular cone.
Not to be missed — the fruit sorbets: smooth, flavorful and truly refreshing on the hottest days.
45 High St.
Sun-Sat: 12 p.m.-10 p.m.
Best known for its low-calorie, 99% fat-free frozen yogurt, Tasti D-Lite is one ice cream store that inspires devotion among many health-conscious Yalies.
“I think it’s delicious and guilt free,” Tasti-frequenter Lauren Dunn ’08 said. “At least that’s what I tell myself.”
That’s not to say that the less nutritionally concerned should shy away from Tasti. Sure, basic Tasti D-Lite fro-yo might not be quite as “tasti” as advertised, but the store also offers excellent Ciao Bella gelato (in flavors ranging from green tea to dulce de leche) and has a range of toppings (including white and blue Yale sprinkles) to liven up the yogurt.
Even devoted customers like Dunn do, however, have some complaints about the Tasti atmosphere, or lack thereof: The store has a utilitarian decor and no seating except for two plain benches.
“I don’t think they really encourage you to stay here with your ice cream,” Dunn said.
For now, grab your fix and head outside, and hope that Tasti has added at least one more bench by next year.
Not to be missed — the Tasti D-Lite card. Essential for any fro-yo addict, buy 10 cups or cones and get one free.
Cold Stone Creamery
163 Temple St.
Sun-Thu: 11 a.m.- 11 p.m, Fri-Sat: 11 a.m.- 12 a.m.
A visit to Cold Stone is like a visit to any other popular national chain: You know you’ll get what you’re looking for, but it won’t necessarily be all that special.
Cold Stone’s gimmick — the mix-in (a topping that is mixed completely into the ice cream, not just sprinkled on top) — is definitely a pleasant innovation. Similarly, Cold Stone’s mix-in sundaes (in flavors like “Coffee Lovers Only” and “Peanut Butter Cup Perfection”) are impressive in variety and generally satisfying.
The problem lies in the fact that Cold Stone seems to rely too much on gimmicks and a formula; the quality of the end product is not always what you would expect when paying over $4 for an ice cream, even if the serving size is huge.
Of course, you will get good ice cream at Cold Stone, and the shop does have the advantage of actually having a seating area, but if you’re facing the walk, the price, the line and probably some unenthusiastic singing from Cold Stone employees, even the chance to mix brownie bits into your pistachio ice cream might not be quite worth it.
Not to be missed — the “Banana Split Decision:” dorky name, but take a spoonful, and you’ll get over it.
Ashley’s Ice Cream
280 York St.
Mon-Sat: 11 a.m.-11 p.m, Sun: 12 p.m.-11 p.m.
Ashley’s has such a good reputation as the gold standard for ice cream in New Haven that you just want to be able to tear it down. But you can’t.
Ashley’s homemade, all-natural ice cream deserves the kind of devotion offered by Adam Dressner LAW ’07, who has been to the store almost every day since it has been warm.
What keeps Dressner coming back?
“I like the breadth of choices,” he said. “It’s really the variety that does it for me.”
As Dressner says, one of Ashley’s huge advantages is its ever-changing flavor selection, which includes choices like Dressner’s favorite, coffee-oreo. The price for a scoop, $2.97, is on par with other New Haven institutions, and Ashley’s also offers a range of quality toppings, a central location, a friendly staff and a small but serviceable seating area. While the store can be very crowded at peak times, the ice cream is well worth the wait.
Not to be missed — the hot fudge: homemade, bittersweet chocolate fudge that can’t be beat.
288 York St.
Mon-Thur: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri-Sat: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m.
With Ashley’s just two stops down, Yorkside is not the premier ice cream destination of York Street. In contrast to Ashley’s impressive variety, Yorkside serves only a simple selection of Hershey’s ice cream scoops ($2.15, the cheapest of the shops) and milkshakes.
The restaurant best known for its pizza and beer, however, does have two distinct advantages over the rest of New Haven’s ice cream parlors. First, Yorkside’s ample seating makes it the only place where a group of more than three of four people can go get ice cream and sit down together. Second, Yorkside is open over two hours later than any other ice cream parlor, so if you feel like your night of partying will only be complete when it’s topped off with a scoop of rocky road, Yorkside is the place to be.
Not to be missed — Denali Moose Tracks: Yorkside’s standout flavor of peanut butter cups mixed into vanilla ice cream.