There is no doubt that, exterior wise, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is the most aesthetically pleasing of all the ice cream shops in the city. It’s on the Brooklyn Waterfront in DUMBO, just down the block from Grimaldi’s Pizza. And based on the lines here (I waited 20 minutes), people often wait in the long queues for pizza and then head over here to wash down all that cholesterol with a good deal of milkfat.
The ice cream factory is in an old converted firehouse that looks like a light house and makes you feel like you’re in a harbor town. And in a sense, you are. There’s the new Brooklyn Bridge Park and lots of other food vendors and park attractions to occupy your day. And if you really wanted to, you could technically go for a swim (although I don’t recommend it).
Strangely enough, there are two locations of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory within a stone’s throw of each other (there’s a third in Greenpoint). On the weekends, the Factory has a stand outside the store as almost an express line. But for some reason, everybody clammers into the shop.
The interior is not much to look at. It’s sort of designed in an old school ice cream parlor style. But instead of a soda bar or a jukebox, there’s just boxes and empty freezers lying around, with maybe a few tables and chairs. So if you ask me, it’s much prettier and worthwhile to buy your ice cream and hang outside on the pier, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline as your background.
Where these guys do succeed at that classic ice cream shop feel is with their menu. They keep it simple by offering only eight classic flavors, but you can add good old fashioned toppings or even order a banana split. I can’t remember the last time I had a banana split. Hot fudge, sprinkles, whipped cream. This is what American ice cream is all about.
And the ice cream reminded me of another American classic: Breyer’s. They’re both full-fat, premium ice cream – nothing gourmet about them – and although they advertise using the freshest and most natural ingredients, I’m not sure that’s completely true. The ice cream is made on premises and it seemed to be fresh and soft, but the flavors were lacking that fresh off the farm kick.
Due to the zoo-like atmosphere (both behind the counter and in front of the counter), I decided to forgo most of my usual multiple tastings and just got a simple cone. I did taste the peaches and cream, which was basically vanilla ice cream with possibly canned peaches mixed in. I love peach ice cream and was hoping for that farm fresh peach experience, where you can even taste the fuzz. That wasn’t what happened here.
I ordered a cone of the coffee, my favorite flavor. And I was not surprised that it came wrapped up decorated with American flag paper. The ice cream was a little more bitter than I expected and I could almost tell that it was made with American coffee, as opposed to the more intense espresso. It was creamy, soft, but a little grainy. It was far from the best ice cream I’ve ever had, but it was enjoyable and comforting. And with views this spectacular, a summer family friendly vibe, and the possibility of a banana split, what more can I really ask for? Maybe a cherry on top?
Is Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory the best ice cream in NY? The experience alone is worth it, so it gets a 7 out of 10, and while flawed, the ice cream itself is simple, classic, and satisfying.