With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I felt that it was important to compliment the ungodly number of Russell Stover chocolates that are sure to be consumed with a brief sampling of New Haven’s ice cream offerings. Though the number of ice cream stores in New Haven pales in comparison to say, pizza parlors, what the city lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. Ranging from a decades-old, family-owned store to a new age, calorie-conscious shop, there’s something for every “helado aficionado” in New Haven. So next Sunday when you’re praying for some sort of Valentine’s Day miracle, skip the cliché heart-shaped box and give that special someone something from the heart — or, from one of the following ice cream stores in New Haven.
ASHLEY’S ICE CREAM
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”838″ ]
Originally started by college students, Ashley’s has been tempting Yalies since 1973. Popular among students for its convenient location and trusted product, Ashley’s relatively small size (five locations around Connecticut!) allows them focus on the quality of their product, which is produced in nearby Wallingford. According to manager Mike Kochis, “We get our ingredients from local farms and try to be as natural as possible.” And in addition to being almost purely natural, Ashley’s also strives to make its product the freshest with ingredients as little as a week old during the summer months. To compare, ingredients of mass-produced ice cream available in stores can range anywhere from one to three months old.
Ashley’s offers a dizzying array of over 250 flavors throughout the course of a year.
Seasonal favorites such as Pumpkin and Bourbon Brown Sugar in the fall, Peppermint Stick during the Holidays and Irish Cream in March guarantee that you’ll be able to find a flavor that suits you. In addition to serving delicious ice cream, Ashley’s also attracts business by being somewhat of a hangout for students. “On the weekends it’s like a G-rated bar,” said Kochis.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Bourbon Brown Sugar is made with real bourbon either.
CLARK’S DAIRY LUNCHEONETTE
Compared to Ashley’s, what Clark’s Dairy lacks in flavor count, it more than makes up for in charm … and milkshakes. What began as a West Haven dairy farm in ’90s — ahem, 1890s — moved into its current location in 1936 and has been proudly serving New Haven ever since. “The place has the same look that it did 30 years ago,” said current operator George Mihalakos (son of only the second owner in Clark’s history). There is literally a picture of a horse-drawn carriage serving Clark’s Dairy hanging on the wall.
The family atmosphere at Clark’s is coupled with fast service and a smile. With pictures on the walls of celebrity patrons like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mayor John Destefano and the late Ted Kennedy, it’s obvious that Clark’s has been doing something right for a very long time. That something, my friends, is ice cream.
Though far from being solely an ice cream parlor (Clark’s also serves breakfast, lunch and pizza next door for dinner), the ‘I-can-barely-drink-this-through-a-straw’ milkshakes at Clark’s are unlike anything else in New Haven. I recommend you stop by Clark’s sometime and choose any combination of their 22 flavors to make your own.
I say they’re delicious; Thesaurus.com might call them aperitive; Ron Burgundy (and his Yale counter-part Peter Salovey) would certainly think they’re ‘scrumtrilicious.’
As opposed to the well-established shops of Clark’s and Ashley’s, The Liberry is a relative newcomer onto the New Haven ice cream scene. Yes, there is a New Haven ice cream scene.
The Liberry is unique for its 15 flavors of gelato and its calorie-conscious assortment of soft-serve ice cream, known as The Lite Choice (TLC). Everyday, The Liberry offers chocolate and French vanilla flavors and one randomly selected flavor from out of 50 calorie-assorted possibilities. While the odds of correctly guessing The Liberry’s flavor of the day may not seem particularly high, keep in mind that 2 percent will likely outpace Yale’s matriculation rate next year (thanks to the new admissions video).
The store also proudly serves frozen yogurt — a wildly popular dessert item in Cambridge, where the taste for tarts is rivaled only by the number of tarts on campus. According to TLC’s mission statement, their ice cream offers a “low fat, low carb, and lower calorie option” than other dessert choices. All TLC ice cream is made from all-natural, farm-fresh dairy without corn syrup, artificial additives and preservatives. And in case you were wondering, their ice cream is, in fact, kosher. Mazel tov!
The Liberry is located at 45 High St., Clark’s Dairy at 74 Whitney Ave. and Ashley’s Ice Cream Cafe is at 280 York St. scene thanks the owners for the complimentary samples.
Correction: Feb. 7, 2010
A scene review of Ashley’s Ice Cream on York Street mistakenly suggested that Labyrinth Bookstore has existed since 1973. In fact, Labyrinth bought Book Haven in 2005.