Imagine your favorite coffee shop, all cozy and friendly, with people studying and working at wooden tables and lots of natural sunlight. Oh, and don’t forget the WiFi. Now swap out the coffee it’s serving with ice cream and you’ve got Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream.
Van Leeuwen started as a couple of ice cream trucks in 2008, and now they have four brick and mortar stores and four more trucks across New York City and Brooklyn. I visited the East Village location, which I thought was especially charming with its tiled floors and vintage wallpaper. My favorite feature? Their shelves filled with record albums (that they actually played with their record player!).
Great ingredients are the foundation of their product, so they use only fresh, hormone-free, antibiotic-free milk and cream and ingredients from small, local producers around the globe. Their flavors are vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, ginger, espresso, currants and cream, strawberry, mint chip, ceylon cinnamon, gianduja, earl grey tea, and palm sugar. Special flavors they have on rotation are sweet sticky black rice, salted caramel, raspberry sorbet, and passion fruit. They even have some vegan flavor options made with coconut milk, cashew milk, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and extra virgin coconut oil. And let me tell you…I sampled the banana nut flavor and it was pretty darn good.
You know what’s adorable about the way they do samples? They don’t give you little plastic spoons for this. Instead, they give you samples on one of their normal, silver spoons. Maybe this is a random thing to call out, but my friend and I thought that was a nice, special touch. I ordered a small bowl with gianduja–a chocolate hazelnut flavor–and salted caramel. Yup, you can get two flavors with their small size, which is great when you have all those delicious options! Gianduja is basically my ideal ice cream flavor, while the salted caramel here had that interesting, more “burnt,” less sugary caramel taste like Ample Hills has. Totally dig it.
So, for someone like me who is all about coffee shop vibes (but not necessarily the coffee) and obsessed with ice cream, Van Leeuwen is a dream come true.
Gianduja, salted caramel
48 1/2 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003