An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jun 23, 2014
08:45 AMThe Connecticut Table
Summer Guide to Best Gourmet and Homemade Ice Cream in Connecticut
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Il Bacio Ice Cream
Danbury • (203) 794-1184
Don’t be put off by the tiny strip-mall digs—Il Bacio delivers a lot in a very small space. Tony and Gina Nascimento have been making ice cream here for 24 years, and it’s definitely the ice cream you dream about, made with a blend of fresh creams from local dairies and fresh fruits and other ingredients. Creative wizard Tony has come up with 400 flavors over the years, and features an ever-changing roster of 30 on a daily basis—yummy handmade concoctions like banana chocolate chip, pineapple cheesecake, chocolate-covered strawberry and Devil Dog. In addition to an array of fine Italian ices, there’s a caseful of ice cream cakes and sandwiches, chocolate-covered bananas and pre-packed pints.
Mortensen’s Ice Cream
Newington & Cromwell • (860) 666-8219
Decades ago, Elmer Mortensen delivered milk by horse and wagon from his dairy farm; today, his sons deliver their own handmade ice cream. On any given day, 50 of Mortensen’s 125 different specialty flavors are available at either of its locations—the one on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington, which has been open for 35 years and is also a year-round restaurant, or the 13-year-old ice cream-only shop in Cromwell. Favorites include Amaretto cherry chip, toasted almond fudge, Vermont maple walnut and wicked chocolate, but for those who can’t get enough of Mortensen’s (and a few dozen of their hungry friends), there’s the gut-busting Wheelbarrow Sundae: 200 (!) scoops of ice cream with nuts, bananas and whipped cream, all served in a 4-cubic-foot wheelbarrow. (Call ahead!)
Wentworth Homemade Ice Cream Company
Hamden (203) 281-7429 • Wallingford (203) 265-2814
Need a refreshing break after a hike up Sleeping Giant Mountain or a round of golf? Or maybe you just need to satisfy a sweet craving with some of the richest, creamiest ice cream around. If so, look no further than Wentworth’s. Huge portions of homemade flavors await you in this Victorian-era house with a gazebo and seating area in the spacious back yard. Whether you’re looking for a classic flavor, such as cookies and cream or something more unique, like Black Velvet (a dark chocolate confection that tastes exactly like a fudgsicle), you’ll find it amongst the dozens of flavors offered here. Don’t forget the doggie bag—Wentworth’s also offers K-9 Crunch (vanilla with bits of kibble mixed in) for your four-legged friends at home.
Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe & Cafe
Old Lyme • (860) 434-6942 • oldlymeicecream.com
We’d be poor candidates for the O’LICS Challenge, which requires one to consume two scoops of each of the 16 flavors on hand laden with every topping the shop offers—from candy and nuts to whipped cream with cherries on top. (Since Old Lyme’s opening in 2000, only one group of six intrepid high-school students have even come close to polishing it off.) We met our match with a combo of the superrich Caramel Macchiato and Beer Brittle—the latter made by Connecticut’s own Brewer’s Cow—which, we suppose, allowed us to raise our blood-alcohol level and sober up at the same time. That’s far more than a mere cheap thrill when enjoyed while strolling along Old Lyme’s quaint and verdant Main Street.
UConn Dairy Bar
Storrs • (860) 486-2634 • dairybar.uconn.edu
Since 1953, the University of Connecticut has been churning its own ice cream at the Dairy Bar, the product of its herd of cows and the labor of its students. You can also visit those cows and watch the ice cream being made in the creamery, which is right behind the dairy bar. Oh, and the delicious end result: a minimum of 24 flavors available for cones, sundaes, sandwiches, shakes, floats and more. Husky Tracks—vanilla ice cream with fudge swirl and Reese’s peanut butter cups—is always popular, as is Jonathan Supreme, featuring vanilla, peanut butter swirl and chocolate-covered peanuts. (UConn prez Susan Herbst orders the coconut when it’s available.) You can always take home a half gallon to enjoy later, too!
Ferris Acres Creamery
Newtown • (203) 426-8803 • ferrisacrescreamery.com
Ferris Acres has everything you could possibly want in a homemade ice cream spot. It’s located square in the middle of a working dairy farm (the last one in Fairfield County), with tractors rumbling by and views of stone walls and pastures to enjoy; there’s a full menu of sundaes, cakes, shakes, ice cream sodas and even soft-serve on offer; customers are taken care of in a friendly, heads-up manner; and the ice cream is delicious. We were tempted by the vanilla with caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels, and the chocolate with peanut butter sauce and mini Reese’s cups, but finally took a scoop each of black cherry and maple walnut, a terrific combo that we will have again—and again.
Fish Family Farm
Bolton • (860) 646-9745 • fishfamilyfarm.com
As Fish Family Farm is one of the few dairy farms in the state that bottles and pasteurizes milk from its own herd of Jersey cows, you know the ice cream made here is truly fresh. As it’s a small, family-run operation—daughter Sandy does the scooping—there are no sundaes (or any other ice cream) on Sundays. Still, you can enjoy them—in addition to cones and, new this year, shakes—the rest of the week. Also new are longer hours: ice cream will now be scooped from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fifteen of a possible 30 flavors are always available, including favorites chocolate chip cookie dough, coffee, black raspberry and vanilla. Fish Family Farm ice cream is also packed in cartons and available in the dairy shop to take home.
Brown Cow Cafe
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm, Sterling • (860) 564-0248 • ekonkhillturkeyfarm.com
Part of Ekonk Hill’s farm store—which also offers farmstead cheeses, baked goods, heritage turkeys, maple syrup and gourmet snacks from everywhere—the Brown Cow offers at least one treat that’s in a class by itself, the Very Berry Pie Sundae. Take (in our case) a slice of blueberry pie, top it with black currant ice cream, strawberries, raspberries and a cloud of whipped cream, and you’ve reached Nirvana (everything is grown/made on the farm except the cherry on top). On any given day 15 out of 25 total flavors are on hand, including seasonal favorites like cucumber and corn, and Blossom’s Delight (butter pecan with butterscotch bits and crumbled vanilla cookie), named after Ekonk’s signature Jersey cow. While visiting, be sure to greet the lambs, ducks and chickens penned next to the barns.
Peaches 'N Cream Ice Cream
632 Torrington Road, Litchfield • (860) 496-7536 • peachesncreamicecream.com
This modest shop on Route 202 near the Litchfield/Torrington line makes all its ice cream on site, along with its own hot fudge, fresh fruit toppings in the summer, whipeed cream and waffle cones. But they don’t make anything boring, especially when it comes to flavors; think Mango Sorbet, Pina Colada, the signature Peach, along with Blueberry, Red Raspberry and so much more. Try the milkshakes and banana splits, and the waffle bowl sundaes.
Obviously, we couldn’t include every ice cream shop in Connecticut—did we miss your favorite? Tell us whose treats you’d you drive across the state for on our Facebook page or via Twitter @connecticutmag.