July 30, 2014

The Great Ice Cream Caper

Frozen fantasy: If you love all things ice cream, Fifth Avenue South has seven shops within a mile bound to have just the flavor you are looking for.Maybe compared to up north, we seem to enjoy perpetual summer. Perhaps being in a vacation destination makes us more prone to lapses in dietary self-control. Or possibly it’s just that living in Naples is about living the good life.

Whatever the reason, it’s pretty obvious that Neapolitans are obsessed with ice cream. At least that’s the message you get walking down Fifth Avenue South, which has become the epicenter for the cold and creamy frozen-treat earthquake overtaking our fair town.

In less than a mile, no fewer than seven ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt and frozen custard shops scoop out gallons of the stuff. If Fifth Avenue South is a window into Naples’ soul, then we really can’t get enough of it. (And we have quite a fixation on art and real estate.)

To get a better idea on just what tasty treats await those who run the avenue’s ice cream marathon, I set out to eat my way from one end to the other. For purely journalistic reasons, of course.

First up, two of the newest kids on the block—Spin Frozen Yogurt and Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ices. Both are chains. But both have unique-to-the-block concepts.

Banana Ice Cream ScoopAt Spin, the mantra is simple: You are in control. Want five ounces of slightly tangy yogurt and another five ounces of gummy bears on top? Not a problem. The yogurt is good, but the toppings at Spin stand out. Pretty much everything you can think of is available.

At Uncle Louie G’s, the message is pick your delicious poison—dense creamy ice cream or smooth and silky Italian ices. And forget 32 flavors. Uncle Louie G more than doubles that with a whopping 71 choices.

The next stops on my tasty tour: two staples of Fifth Avenue, Regina’s Ice Cream Pavilion and Kilwin’s. Less than a block separate the two stores, both known for their traditional ice cream served in traditional ways. The vibe of these shops hearkens back to the days when Rocky Road was a cutting-edge flavor and the ice cream parlor was a choice location for a first date.

Their charm can’t be understated. Their flavors thankfully are. It’s refreshing to be served up a scoop of nostalgia.

Chocolate Ice Cream ScoopOn the opposite end of the spectrum is Adelheidi’s, a crepery/gelateria located in the old Cheeburger Cheeburger spot on Fifth.

The name might conjure images of a young Swiss girl climbing an Alp. But their flavors are often far from old-fashioned. Try the spicy, slightly fruity flavor of the black pepper gelato and you’ll agree that this is definitely not your grandfather’s ice cream. Adelheidi’s coconut was the single best scoop I tasted during my street-walking.

Our last two stops are on opposite ends of the street. (Actually, one isn’t even on Fifth Avenue South, but on a street called Fifth Avenue Parkway, a block over on the east side of U.S. 41.) They’re also about as different as places that serve basically the same item can be.

Abbott’s Frozen Custard conjures up the classic soft-serve ice cream offered at mom-and-pop fast food stands around the country.

Strawberry Ice Cream ScoopFreddo Gelateria, doesn’t remind most people of their childhood, unless you grew up in an Italian specialty shop. Both use top-notch ingredients to make two very different, equally delightful frozen fantasies.

Both will tell you about the superiority of their products. The artisanal lengths Freddo’s owners go to in order to get the highest quality and freshest-tasting product makes you question their sanity. (Seriously, their stuff is so good several upscale restaurants offer it on their menus, although not all admit it.)

Abbott’s uses a proprietary recipe to guarantee no one can copy their unique combination of creamy and smooth custard.

As for which is the best—we’ve got our opinions. But we aren’t telling. You are just going to have to go out and try them all for yourself. Curses.

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