It was the plan all along, says Nick Larsen, to open at least two and, someday, hopefully, three ice cream parlors in Harlem. "This is our home," says Larsen, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years with his wife and Sugar Hill Creamery partner Petruschka Bazin Larsen and, now, their three children. "This is where we're raising our kids. This is where we want to be."
Clearly, the community is returning the love. After three years of successful scooping at their original location in Mount Morris Park (really, every time I've ever been there it's been packed), Larsen and Bazin opened their new Hamilton Heights spot to big crowds on Halloween, and last Saturday, when seemingly the whole city turned into a party, they sold out of everything. "We had to break out some of the upcoming winter flavors we'd be saving, to keep people happy," says Larsen.
Of course, because this is 2020, the actual opening of the second Sugar Hill Creamery wasn't easy. Larsen and Bazin started construction on the shop in February — the space had sat empty for years before they went at it — hoping to make a grand entrance just as the weather got warm in the spring. COVID had other plans, though in a way the delay, and the cooler temperatures, have made the transition to running two stores at once a bit less frantic for the couple. Plus the area in back of the Hamilton Heights location, which will some, post-pandemic day be public seating, has been a handy place to entertain the kids when both of them are working.
The most important thing to know about Sugar Hill Creamery, however, is that the ice cream itself is truly top-notch. At a time when downtown Manhattan has lost some of its best parlors (both of the Oddfellows, the irreplaceable Ice and Vice, probably New Territories, which hasn't been open in months), it's great to see that uptown keeps bringing it.
Everything is made on site at the new location, and longtime Sugar Hill heads will recognize such favorites as the self-explanatory A$AP Rocky Road; Jazzy Belle, which is berbere spiced bourbon pecan; Andy Griffith (plain vanilla, of course); and, my usual, Sweet Socialism, a decadent Madagascar dark chocolate sorbet that elevates everything it's paired with.
There are some new Sugar Hill flavors to get excited about too, including Yellow Diamond Ring, which houses bits of roasted pineapple and a berbere caramel swirl; the boozy Boricua Soul, which is basically a coquito cocktail in ice cream form; and Don Cartagena, which proves itself to be an excellent way to enjoy a bunch of guava paste.
And then there's the Brownie Sundae, a magnificent beast packed with chunks of homemade chewy pastry, two scoops of ice cream (I opted for Tell It to the Block, made with cinnamon and hot honey, and Yam's Day, starring crunchy, candied tubers), chocolate and caramel sauce drizzled throughout, and featuring two layers of whipped cream. It's fantastic. Probably the best thing I ate all week.
The new Sugar Hill Creamery is located at 3629 Broadway, between 149th and 150th Streets, and is currently open on Wednesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., on Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and on Sunday from noon until 10 p.m.. Closed Monday and Tuesday (212-634-9004; sugarhillcreamery.com)