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An Ice-Cream Parlor Where Time Stands Still

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In this sequence for T, the writer Reggie Nadelson revisits New York establishments which have outlined cool for many years, from time-honored eating places to unsung dives.

It’s straightforward sufficient to seek out banana and fudge or banana caramel ice cream at your native deli lately, however the taste I miss from my childhood, and which is way more durable to trace down, is simply plain banana. No chocolate, no nuts. It tasted solely of cream, bananas and sugar, and was rather more luscious and profound than the sum of its elements. At Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Forest Hills, Queens, it’s simply as I bear in mind it, as if seasoned with a splash of nostalgia.

Often described as New York’s longest surviving ice cream parlor, Eddie’s is a neighborhood establishment beloved for each its frozen confections and the truth that it has remained just about unchanged since Giuseppe Citrano, an immigrant from Southern Italy, purchased it in 1968. According to the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, there has seemingly been a soda fountain on the handle, a two-story purple brick constructing at 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, since not less than the late Nineteen Forties, when William Witt, a German American, opened Witt’s Ice Cream Parlor there. But it was Citrano who made the place Eddie’s. Apparently there was no Eddie, and Citrano’s son Vito typically jokes that his father will need to have reckoned that if he didn’t put his personal title on the door, ought to a buyer have a grievance, they wouldn’t get mad at him. With his father, Citrano is alleged to have coined the slogan “Take your children to the place your grandparents had ice cream.”

Unsurprisingly, then, Vito (who took over within the early 2000s) and his spouse, Angelina, who personal and run the shop now, intention to maintain Eddie’s because it has all the time been. Even the metallic boat-shaped dishes for banana splits are classic, with some relationship again to the store’s early days.

In reality, Eddie’s total inside evokes a bygone age — or the pharmacy from Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play “Our Town,” maybe. To your left as you enter is a protracted marble counter with wood-topped swivel stools. Along the wall behind it’s an elaborate wooden built-in with mirrors and slots for printed playing cards bearing the names of ice cream flavors: butter pecan, maple walnut, cherry vanilla, vanilla fudge, mint chip. On a ledge, massive glass jars maintain syrups, and there may be an ancient-looking inexperienced metallic machine for making malts and milkshakes, in addition to an enameled fridge that, in keeping with Vito, “is at least 80 years old but still works.” The authentic ceiling overhead is manufactured from pressed tin, the ground out of hexagonal inexperienced and white tiles, and reverse the counter is a big glass-fronted wooden case full of a colourful assortment of sweet. “In the ’70s, we made our own chocolates,” Vito says. “But we got too busy.”

At the again of the area — although, on account of the pandemic, Eddie’s is at present open just for takeout — are little tables and barely rickety wire chairs, in addition to a number of cubicles. When I arrive late on a sunny afternoon with my mates Jolie and Gary Alony, who personal the beloved neighborhood pharmacy Thompson Chemists in SoHo, a various crowd of all ages is consuming ice cream with a sure look of ecstasy on their faces and, within the case of 1 little woman, whipped cream on her nostril.

There is way finding out of the menu, as if it have been an historic textual content. Possible orders embrace milkshakes, malts, floats and among the greatest egg lotions in New York — the sort with only a sprint of seltzer added to the milk and syrup. Naturally, I begin with some banana ice cream, however then I determine that I ought to most likely attempt another flavors, too, topped with my alternative of caramel, sizzling fudge, pineapple, butterscotch, walnuts (plain or in syrup) or chocolate sauce.

In addition to the banana ice cream, there may be one absolute knockout. I’ve most likely eaten tons of of gallons of espresso ice cream in my time — lots of them through the pandemic lockdown — however Eddie’s is the perfect I’ve ever had. Like every thing else right here, from the syrups to the whipped cream, it’s made on the premises, and it has a deep, refined taste: creamy however not overly wealthy, candy however with out that unusual aftertaste attributable to an excessive amount of sugar. Vito doesn’t introduce new flavors casually however is open to experimentation. “If you want Rocky Road, we can add marshmallows and nuts to your chocolate ice cream,” he tells me. “In fact, my son Brandon, who is often behind the counter, is a master mixologist, and it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but he can probably produce up to a million combinations.”

Joseph, the youthful of Vito’s two sons, can typically be discovered downstairs within the kitchen making ice cream and toppings (he even soaks the raisins in actual rum). Vito beams when he tells me about his children. He himself labored alongside his father and his grandfather, who was additionally named Vito, beginning on the age of 12, and says it was his father who confirmed him the which means of arduous work. For a short while after faculty, Vito labored in finance, however he was again quickly on the household enterprise.

I’ve come to Eddie’s with the Alonys as a result of Gary, who was born in Rego Park, one neighborhood over from Eddie’s, has all the time cherished the realm’s historical past. “It was 1976 when my friends and I began exploring Forest Hills,” he says. They would trip their bikes to Station Square, with its previous inn and outlets. “We were too young to attend the great concerts at the stadium in the ’60s by the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, who went to Forest Hills High. But we rode with joy past the Forest Hills Gardens, with its grand Tudor-style mansions, and for a bunch of 13-year-old kids, the neighborhood felt locked in time. There was no better break than to stop at Eddie’s.”

In 1988, Gary met Jolie. She was an Upper East Side Manhattan woman who ate her ice cream at Serendipity 3 on East sixtieth Street, and on the long-gone Rumpelmayer’s on the Hotel St. Moritz. She was, nevertheless, received over when, for his or her first date, Gary took her to Eddie’s. Now of their mid-50s, they’ve been married since 1991.

“I thought it was so romantic to sit at a small, round table set for two and share a banana split with coffee ice cream and chocolate syrup and homemade whipped cream,” says Jolie. “Gary was so excited that he also ordered milkshakes.” Grinning, she recollects how, when she was rising up, Manhattanites would typically confer with folks from Brooklyn and Queens as “Bridge and Tunnel people.” “And then they had that 718 phone number,” she says. “But that date turned out to be the best. I fell head over heels in love with my Bridge and Tunnel husband at Eddie’s.”