The first time my girlfriend and I ordered ices from Uncle’s Mike’s Italian Ices (7015 Third Avenue), which has oddly shared a summer space with Pure Tanning since 2013, I got the peanut butter, flecked with chips of real peanut butter. A few steps down Third, I took my first lick, the flavors exploding from my tongue to my brain to every cell in my body. I turned to her as she laid into her pistachio. “I don’t need you anymore,” I said, seriously ready to forgo my loved ones and responsibilities if I could just have one more ice.
I’m only sort of exaggerating about the taste experience; these Italian ices are really, really good, far beyond the refreshing reliability of a Gino’s Rainbow or Marino’s Cherry. They’re even dairy-free (unlike most of the ices at the weird nostalgia-franchise Uncle Louie G), but suspiciously so, like you can’t even believe that something so creamy and sweet could have come from anything but a suffering dairy cow.
Turns out the ices are imported from Queens—from the Lemon Ice King of Corona, to be exact, the Benfaremo family business transformed into an institution over the last seventy-one years, expanding from orange and lemon to three dozen flavors, from cotton candy to coffee, plus a few sugar-free. The company prides itself on not using dairy or gums (xanthan, carageenan, guar, locust bean, etc.), and you can taste the difference. The proof is in the pudding-free ice.
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