There’s absolutely no doubt about it: Long Island’s sandwich game is strong. Between BECs and behemoth heroes, custom deli sammies and stepped-up burgers that have inspired island-wide competitions, if it comes between two carbs, we’ve got it cornered.
But guess what? LI’s prowess is stepping out of savory and we’re making strides in leading sweets. Inspired chefs and artisans are thinking beyond the chocolate wafer-vanilla ice cream sandwich classic, and the Willy Wonka-worthy results have gone beyond “out of the box” to “out of this world.“
Here are our top three picks for the most imaginative ice cream sandwiches in each of our regions, proving that ice cream can be more than just a dessert and definitely isn’t just for sticky summers.
We mentioned before that LI is the home of comforting breakfast sandwiches. Now among those is the one by Frozen Sin, a far cry from your typical ice cream—or sandwich—truck. Owned and operated by CIA-taught, Reinwald’s-trained Erica Belk and her wife Stephanie, these farmer’s market darlings have come up with a way for you to have ice cream for breakfast. That’s right: white bread-shaped sandwiches made of chewy vanilla cookies studded with real bacon, then stuffed with handmade coffee ice cream, candied bacon, and crushed waffles. Or, have your dairy indulgence atop the scratch-made mini doughnuts you can watch being made for a slightly more conventional first meal.
But if you’re the type that skips breakfast and likes to go straight to dessert, they’ve got you covered, too. You can’t go wrong with over an inch of small-batch, gorgeously balanced vanilla ice cream between “slices” of raw cookie dough, frozen hot chocolate with whole marshmallows, or unicorn-levels of rainbow sprinkles in the Funfetti sammie, whose filling is also studded with cake doughnut bites.
In fact, these whimsically Wonder Bread-shaped ice cream sandwiches improve on pretty much all the flavor combinations you know and love by using fresh, local ingredients like just-picked mint leaves for their mint chocolate chip versions, fresh strawberries for their strawberry shortcake and chocolate strawberry ones, and real orange for their Creamsicle. With no artificial ingredients (aside from cookies and cream, for obvious reasons), what this results in is a silky ice cream that doesn’t weigh you down or camp out on your taste buds; these hefty, butcher paper-wrapped, New York-sized sandwiches are actually light, bursting with flavor but not sugar.
Find: Visit the Frozen Sin truck at the Seaford and Rockville Center farmer’s markets, pick up a sandwich or five at Thyme on Your Side, Bethpage; Krave It Sandwich Shop and Eatery, Bayside; and Old Westbury Gardens, or book them for private events year-round.
Insider Advice: This fall, look for an apple pie sandwich made with local apples and a caramel-swirled vanilla cream, and pumpkin pie version that’ll go perfectly with their homemade cider.
If ice cream for breakfast isn’t your thing, maybe ice cream for brunch is? Because sometimes, the only thing better than doing as the Romans do is taking a Sicilian approach, as authentic tradition-inspired Pentimento in Stony Brook does. Here, they take locally-baked and airily sweet fresh brioche buns, slice them lengthwise, then—in a stroke of pure genius that proves Italians have truly mastered living la dolce vita—fill them with smooth, creamy, genuine gelato.
But that’s not all. The world’s finest pistachios, one of Sicily’s most renowned exports, are enrobed in this luscious slow-churned gelato, which gets topped with a housemade praline crumble for a beautifully brittle crisp to go with the whole-nut crunch. This gorgeous concoction is then popped into a special imported press that then seals the edges of the sandwich, lightly warming it while its fillings remain cold. Sprinkled with powdered sugar then served with a chocolate ganache dipping sauce to make it the pinnacle of decadence, this eye-opening sandwich won’t just wake you up—it’ll change the way you think of what belongs inside a bun.
Find: On the brunch and dinner dessert menu of Pentimento, 93 Main Street in Stony Brook Village. It may be tempting to fill up on this restaurant’s hand-cranked, house-made fresh pasta, but make it a priority to save room for this novel, distinctly Italian treat.
Insider Advice: A few other places are starting to catch wind of this brilliant confection, but only at Pentimento is it made with real gelato and only here are the buns baked exclusively for this purpose. Enjoy it with a cappuccino for the ultimate Italian effect.
Fine—technically, this isn’t a sandwich. But doesn’t that actually make it fit the theme of pleasant surprises and unconventional creations better? These ice cream “Choco Tacos” by pastry chef Rachel Flatley of the Honest Man Restaurant Group are made with their own waffle cone batter, filled with housemade ice cream, then dipped in chocolate for extra yum. Vanilla ice cream will always be an available filling, but seasonal specialties like strawberry, local raspberry-swirled, or mint from group’s garden will make surprise guest appearances in this new Townline BBQ signature dessert. As adorable as they are delicious, who can resist?
Find: Townline BBQ, 3593 Montauk Highway, Sagaponack. It’s not on their online menu, so you heard it here first!
Insider Advice: Don’t limit yourself to this south-of-the-border-inspired treat—inch up just a wee bit north with their humanely raised, all-natural, antibiotic and hormone-free smoked meats and poultry for a little taste of St. Louis and Texas.
This story was originally published in 2018.