Ohhh yeah, now this is what I’m talkin’ about!! I can definitely get behind this national food holiday. Hot fudge sundaes are what makes ice cream so freakin’ great: you have your already sweet, cold frozen ice cream in any flavors you wish (though chocolate and vanilla are the staples), and you cover those scoops with hot, dripping, gooey chocolate sauce. Add chopped nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top, and you’ve got the quintessential hot fudge sundae. (Food for thought: the “hot fudge” in a hot fudge sundae has very little similarity with the culinary definition of fudge!) Of course, over the decades we’ve added bells and whistles and doo-dads to the sundae, but this is really the classic version and nothing beats a classic. Besides, who can pass up the gooey chocolate sauce running into the slowly melting pools of ice cream, the combination so sweet you feel you have to down a gallon of water afterwards to balance out your sugar rush. I definitely can’t!
So where can you go in New York to get one of the best hot fudge sundaes around? Would you imagine a steakhouse in Brooklyn? It may seem like a stretch, but those in the know (and in the money) have discovered years ago that Peter Luger’s Steakhouse makes one of the best and most famous hot fudge sundaes in the city. You may shell out a lot of cash for a perfectly cooked steak here–and with good reason, Peter Luger’s is one of the highest-class names in steaks the world over–but it’s surprisingly cheap to get their fudge sundae. Maybe they expect you’ll order it as a bargain after eating your weight in porterhouse? But either way, that sundae is cheap (especially for steakhouse standards) and it is plentiful: easily shared between two, maybe three if you’re stingy, their “Holy Cow” hot fudge sundae is everything the classic should be: vanilla ice cream topped with hot chocolate sauce, homemade whipped cream (their “shlag”), chopped walnuts, and a chocolate cow. It’s a decadence you expect from a name like Peter Luger, but not the package you normally expect. I suggest trying one on your next expedition to the famed steakhouse–or just stop by and annoy the waiters by ordering just the hot fudge sundae! At least you’ll be satisfied 😉
Peter Luger Steak House
178 Broadway (between 6th St & Driggs Ave)
“They rightly present, among the desserts, an irresistible hot fudge sundae, because the only proper coda to gluttony on the scale of a Luger porterhouse, which impresses even when it doesn’t awe, is more gluttony.”–The New York Times
“For dessert, should you have room, try the Holy Cow Hot Fudge Sundae. Like the rest of the dishes at Peter Luger, it’s simple and to the point. It’s plain vanilla ice cream, a rich, dense fudge, and plentiful with whipped cream (or “schlag,” as they call it), and topped with walnuts and a milk chocolate cow.”–The Examiner
“The whipped cream is so thick that if it was whipped for a few more seconds, it might have ended up as butter. Whipped cream goes by the name “schlag” here, and if they sold it by the pound, I would eagerly purchase it for personal home use. It holds up to the equally thick hot fudge. Vanilla ice cream from the reliable Haagen Dazs. There are crushed walnuts, a cherry, and a milk chocolate cow—so cute we cooed over it for just a minute—to finish. Get in all one bite, and it all comes together—the crunch of walnuts, sinking into the fudge-laced cream, a glorious mouthful, all bound by vanilla ice cream.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“And to top it off, being that this was my birthday dinner, thanks to the Boyfriend – I was served the “Holy Cow” Hot Fudge Sundae. Decadently delicious. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, a bit of caramel, walnuts, whipped cream, with a cherry on top. And not to mention a cute milk chocolate cow making his way amongst the “udderly” delightful mountain of deliciousness.”–April C.
“We didn’t plan on ordering dessert, but throughout our whole meal we kept seeing the waiters bring out these ginormous sundaes out to people, so we succumbed to peer pressure and ordered the Holy Cow Hot Fudge sundae too. Being already full, we still managed to devour the large sundae. The Vanilla Ice Cream, warm Hot Fudge, and crunchy Chocolate Wafer pieces was a perfect end to a perfect meal!”–Melissa M.
But Peter Luger’s a little too fancy for you today? I was myself surprised to find that all the most acclaimed hot fudge sundaes in the city came from restaurants. I mean, sure, you can get a great dessert at almost any restaurant to step into, but when it comes to ice cream sundaes nothing will, or can, ever beat an old fashioned ice cream parlor. Making hot fudge sundaes is basically all they do! And if you’re looking for a great old-timey ice cream parlor, you’ve got to go just out of the borders of New York City to find it. I’m not talking about crossing a river here: just east of south Queens is the town of Valley Stream, Long Island, so close to the boroughs you could spit and hit the A train. There, you’ll find an ice cream parlor almost untouched by the decades, known to the locals as Walt Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour (yep, they still spell it with the “u”!) They make all their own ice cream and whipped cream, for starters, and their hot fudge sundaes are unparalleled. You might get a great, gut-busting sundae at a steakhouse, but for that entire wholesome, old-fashioned ice cream parlor experience, you’ve got to get to Itgens.
Walt Itgen’s Ice Cream Parlour
211 Rockaway Ave, Valley Stream
“But what really sets Itgen’s apart is its homemade ice cream. And homemade whipped cream, hot fudge, syrups, marshmallow sauce, and wet nuts (walnuts in sticky syrup). If it’s topping a sundae, banana split, or Belgian waffle, it’s made on the premises to scrumptious effect. Moreover, when it comes to portioning, it’s a matter of pride for the staff to outdo themselves. Malteds and shakes are delivered along with a backup gulp in a frosty aluminum shaker. If the sundaes look a bit messy, that’s only because the kids who work there don’t skimp on the toppings. The cups they’re served in are even set on plates to catch every drop of chewy butterscotch or thick strawberry syrup that slides off the ice cream and over the edges of the dish. It’s not uncommon to see patrons licking those plates clean.”–Saveur
“All of the toppings are homemade, down to the wet nuts, which makes them fitting adornments to the shop’s terrific homemade ice cream and whipped cream. The front of the store is given over to the candy and chocolates that, as with the ice cream and all its fixin’s, are made on the premises. Itgen’s has an full savory menu as well, with all the classic burgers, sandwiches, salads, breakfast specialties and platters you’d expect from a place that opened more than 40 years ago. Not much seems to have changed since 1967, When Walt Itgen first put his name over the door.”–Newsday
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“So many good choices – but who won the battle? The Itgen’s S’more Sundae – Crispy Graham Cracker, Two Scoops of Ice Cream (your choice – I chose the Vanilla Chocolate Chip), Hot Fudge, Marshmallow and Whipped Cream. As you can see from the picture, it’s big enough to share…but I didn’t (hehehe). As I made my way through the delicious sundae, guilt started to speak to me…but I told it to back off, and ate the whole thing.”–Kate Y.
“I’m pretty sure there’s no better place in the vicinity to get real ice cream. It’s all homemade, and you can definitely tell. The ice cream is creamy and they have a good variety of flavors. As far as toppings go, I’ve only experienced the hot fudge and whipped cream. The place does chocolate, so the hot fudge is top notch. My only complaint about the whipped cream is that there seems to be no option on the menu to order an entire bowl of it. This stuff is the real deal. No cans. Just a huge bowl of whipped cream that they scoop from. One other thing I did have here that was a big problem was the brownie sundae. They give you a very large, homemade brownie. Then they pile the ice cream and hot fudge and whipped cream on top of it. You can’t get better and you can’t get worse. Soooo worth it.”–Alysse J.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!