Cold comfort: cone or cup?
With 400 miles of coastline and an abundance of inland ponds and parks, Rhode Island has plenty of places for eating ice cream. Many places make their own and here’s the scoop on 10 hot spots for the cold treat.
Gray’s Ice Cream is the perennial powerhouse of all things ice cream, winning a variety of awards including one from Gourmet magazine, which in 2002 dubbed Gray’s one of the 12 best places in America to get ice cream. Come for the ice cream, or “cabinets,’’ as milk shakes are called in the state, but enjoy your treats by the adjacent paddock where folks feed the cows their leftovers. 16 East Road, Tiverton, 401-624-4500, www.graysicecream.com.
Find urban ice cream at its finest at Three Sisters, where owner Mike Stern concocts creations like “Frogurt,’’ and ice cream treats that include Mexican chocolate, ginger papaya, and Guinness. The day of our visit, they had just whipped up some to-die-for tiramisu. This busy shop is hard by Blackstone Boulevard, one of the most popular walking spots in the city, a wide, green median that runs by some of the city’s most expensive homes, a great place to sit and slurp a cone. Three Sisters, 1074 Hope St., Providence, 401-273-7230, www.threesistersri.com.
Susanna’s Ice Cream at Sweet Berry Farm uses many of the farm’s berries in its ice cream and dairy-free sorbets. Grab a half pint of the exotic rhubarb and ginger (rhubarb from Rehoboth, ginger from Australia) and pull up a stool outside to eat it, near swaying branches laden with fruit. 915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown, 401-847-3912, www.sweetberryfarmri.com/susannasicecream.html.
Cold Fusion Gelato was founded by former Wall Street banker Torrance Kopfer, who tired of the rat race and opened this gelateria. They look rich, but the dense and smooth creations boast two-thirds less fat and half the calories of ice cream, making it almost healthy to gobble flavors like macadamia nut or dark chocolate curry. Kopfer studied with Italian masters and is a certified gelato expert. 389 Thames St., Newport, 401-849-6777, www.coldfusiongelato.com.
It’s hard to tell who’s having more fun, the kids with the smiling sticky faces or Ice Cream Factory co-owner Mary Comerford, who churns up several dozen flavors a week at this spot on busy Post Road that she has owned for four years with partner Jane Kirk. Death by Chocolate rules here, Comerford says, as does cherry vanilla. 6710 Post Road, North Kingstown, 401-885-8640.
Brickley’s Homemade Ice Cream and Cakes in Wakefield is a far less hectic place to get a great scoop than its main Narragansett location, which is near the beaches and their whopping summer crowds. Owner Steve Brophy makes up to 48 flavors at a time, including a ginger folks rave about (the maple walnut’s great, too), varying them according to the freshness of seasonal fruit. Benches outside are a great place to enjoy the quiet, munching a cup of ice cream that Yankee magazine gave an Editor’s Choice Award to this year. Brickley’s Homemade Ice Cream and Cakes, 322 Main St., Wakefield, 401-782-884, www.brickleys.com.
Nestled into the rolling hills of northern Rhode Island is the Ice Cream Machine Co., which has been a popular year-round spot since 1977. The quality has remained the same, says Kim Caron, owner with husband Gary. This 14-percent butterfat product is rich and smooth and includes flavors like mango, birthday cake, and the wickedly good rum raisin. 4228 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, 401-333-5053, www.icecreampie.com.
Another northern Rhode Island favorite is the Powder Mill Creamery on picturesque Waterman’s Lake, a cafe that serves killer Angus burgers along with crazy-good ice cream such as lemon coconut cookie, which owner Bill Abramek says even coconut haters will love. Abramek, a corporate dropout who opened this place in 1995, experiments with up to 60 flavors at a time, “depending on how crazy I get and how much fun I’m having,’’ he says. 777 Putnam Pike, Greenville, 401-949-3040.
In addition to things like snick-a-ripple and caramel cashew turtle, free family fun can be found at The Inside Scoop, where starting July 7, movies are shown against an outside wall (there will be a couple 3D offerings this year, says manager John Lanni), fresco music and dancing is hosted, and coupons are given to kids winning contests for things like funkiest slippers. Oh, and the ice cream is pretty fabulous, too. 1105 Scituate Ave., Cranston, 401-944-0707, www.insidescoopri.com.
The ice cream and the view are superb at Daily Scoop’s Bristol location (another is in Barrington), a long, narrow shop with a gorgeous vista of Bristol Harbor just beyond the sweeping lawn of Independence Park right outside the window. Fruity flavors abound from apple pie to Maine blueberry. And if you grab a cone or cup of pistachio or orange sherbet, be forewarned: The former isn’t green and the latter isn’t orange; they eschew the use of food coloring here. 446B Thames St., Bristol, 401-254-2223, www.dailyscoopicecream.com
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at email@example.com.