It seems like there's a new ice cream parlor opening up in New York City every week. But the new Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus is not your average scoops spot. Owned and operated by a local Brooklyn family (who recently contributed this delicious and easy bananamon ice cream recipe to our WeeWork series), this is actually their second location. We raved about the cozy original in Prospect Heights when it opened in 2011 and it's still great—just constantly overrun with families and foodies.
The new Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus is much bigger. In fact, it's a two-story, 3,600-square-foot ice cream wonderland complete with a roof deck, a private party room, and a wide variety of classic and offbeat seasonal flavors, all homemade from scratch right there on-site—you can even watch them making batches in the kitchen!
Before you worry that Ample Hills Creamery is an upscale, artisanal parlor meant mainly for hipsters looking for bacon bits in their ice cream, put that out of your mind. Yes, it's true, the new Gowanus outpost is already a favorite of food blogs, but the owners, Brian and Jackie, have two young children so they always keep families in mind. That's apparent in the details, like a well-placed step by the counter so even tots can peek at the 24 flavors, which change daily. Some are even unique to the new location, like It Came From the Gowanus (salty dark chocolate ice cream with hazelnut). In addition to newfangled flavors like Mexican Hot Chocolate (dark chocolate ice cream with Saigon cinnamon and ground chili flakes) and Homemade Honeycomb Candy (made with honey from bees at the Queens County Farm Museum, of course), there are less exotic options for picky eaters like chocolate and vanilla. My son went with the Vanilla Bean and I tasted the Pistachio Squared. My son can be finicky about ice cream but he ate his entire cup. There are also tasty cones like chocolate chip and pretzel. You can also buy pints to take home or pick up their recently published cookbook, Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets & Stories From Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop, and try to make some of their signature flavors yourself.
The decor reminded me of a Norman Rockwell painting, with old-fashioned-style ads and pictures on the tables, and original Brooklyn- or barn animal-themed art on the walls. There's a shelf suspended from the ceiling that holds various ice cream trinkets, and a children’s play area featuring a play kitchen, books and a picnic table. Kids should really get a kick out of being able to watch the ice cream being made from fresh ingredients in the kitchen.
The private party room on the second floor is lovely and features a beautifully drawn Brooklyn skyline (done by one of the store’s scoopers), a play kitchen for kids and twinkling ceiling lights. But perhaps the coolest attraction is Ample Hills' patented ice cream bike, which children ages four and up can pedal to churn new batches of their favorite flavor. All of the activities in the party room are only available if you book a birthday at Ample Hills. You can see a list of party packages on the website.
The roof deck, however, is usually open to the public (depending on the party schedule). There are lots of tables and lounge chairs to relax in and fabulous views of Brooklyn. (Sun umbrellas are forthcoming.) Ah, ice cream with a view, summer fun doesn't get much better than that.
Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus is located at 305 Nevins Street between Union and President Streets.
Find out about other great places to eat with kids in NYC in our Family Restaurant Guide.