Slideshow: Staff Picks: Our Favorite Ice Creams in NYC

Gelato at Otto
Gelato at Otto
"I know it's a boring choice verging on a cliché, but I don't care. Otto's ice cream program (and it is a full-blown program) created by the mad ice cream genius Meredith Kurtzman is simply the apotheosis of ice cream culture in America. Yes, everybody and his/her mother makes olive oil ice cream now, but Meredith's version was the first I ever heard about, and is still the best. Her coffee ice cream (you get three flavors for $7.50) is not at all sweet, plenty strong, and yet so creamy and intensely flavored it causes you to bolt straight up after finishing a portion. Crème Fraîche is tart and vaguely sweet at the same time, and oh so smooth. Also avail yourself of some of her nectarine sorbetto, which tastes like you've put your head in a bushel full of cold, juicy, ripe nectarines. Any of these flavors (except maybe the nectarine sorbetto) is made even better by a shot of Kurtzman's chocolate sauce ($2).

Feeling abstemious, or perish the thought, guilty about eating too much of Kurtzman's ice cream manna? Get a single scoop of ice cream on a sweet brioche ($3.50, a buck more if you ask for it to be topped by nutella). But if you really want to to go to town and fully experience Kurtzman's genius, go for one of her ingeniously concocted sundaes ($11 each), which are really composed desserts in sundae or parfait form. There are three that are deserving of MacArthur Genius grants: the Black &White, with milk chocolate chip gelato, hazelnut croccante, crème fraîche gelato, chocolate sauce, and caramel cream; the Olive Oil Coppetta, made with rotating seasonal accompaniments; and the Blackberry Nectarine Coppetta, with sweet corn crema, nectarine sorbetto, polenta cake, and blackberry sauce."—Ed Levine

Otto: 1 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (map); 212-995-9559; ottopizzeria.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Salted Crack Caramel at Ample Hills Creamery
Salted Crack Caramel at Ample Hills Creamery
"This summer, I've been all about the Salted Crack Caramel from Ample Hills Creamery. Everything you've heard about it is true. Really addictive stuff. It has that bubbling dark caramel sweetness that's cut by a coarse saltiness, and the scoop glides across the tongue, so smooth. Crumbles of "crack" cookies—a mix of saltine crackers, chocolate, butter, and sugar—provide texture bits. I can't walk into Ample Hills and not order this (after requesting a bunch of samples, and feigning indecision first)."—Erin Zimmer

Ample Hills Creamery: 623 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11238 (map); 718-670-3346; amplehills.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Meyer Lemon Gelato at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Meyer Lemon Gelato at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
"Il Buco Alimentari's meyer lemon gelato is sublime—dense, creamy, and intensely lemony. This stuff is for folks who can't decide whether to eat ice cream or cheesecake. Unfortunately this flavor goes on and off the roster, but fortunately they have lots of other options, too, and if you're ordering at the front of the store for takeout, they usually will let you taste quite a few flavors before you decide what to order."—Maggie Hoffman

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria: 53 Great Jones Street, New York, NY 10012 (map); (212) 837-2622; ilbucovineria.com

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Gelato at Franny's and Bklyn Larder
Gelato at Franny's and Bklyn Larder
"The gelato at Franny's and Bklyn Larder, no question (sold by the scoop at the pizzeria, by the pint at the shop). It's a little creamier and less silky than your typical gelato, but I love that richness, particularly in the fior di latte, with the purest milk flavor you can imagine. But there, there's the vividly flavored hazelnut... or pistachio... or salted peanut... I have trouble picking just one."—Carey Jones

Franny's: 295 Flatbush Avenue, New York NY 10001 (map); 718-230-0221; frannysbrooklyn.com

Bklyn Larder: 228 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11217 (map); 718-783-1250; bklynlarder.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Mint Gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Mint Gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato
"Of the dozens of flavors I've tried at Il Laboratorio, I think all but one or two have been great. This is a place that makes pumpkin ice cream actually taste like squash, and that harnesses herbal flavors in such an honest, forthright way so as to put other ice creams to shame. It's the kind of place that sells Mission and Turkish fig ice creams side by side, because of course they're different enough flavors worth trying individually. And it's ice cream that no matter how crazy the flavors get—pink peppercorn and tarragon come to mind—the integrity of those flavors, and the incredibly smooth texture, never fails.

I have a hard time not ordering the mint when it's on the menu—it's just so grassy, leafy, and clean, with a one of a kind texture somewhere between elastic gelato and creamy ice cream. I'll sometimes pair it with a berry sorbet to mix things up, but that mint on its own is magical stuff."—Max Falkowitz

Il Laboratorio del Gelato: 188 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002 (map); 212-343-9922; illaboratoriodelgelato.com

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Gelato at Grom
Gelato at Grom
"I judge all ice creams based on how much they remind me of my pre-dinner gelato runs back when I lived in Italy. So it makes sense that my favorite coppa is from Grom, the Italian mega-gelateria with only four stateside outposts, three of which are in NYC. I always get half rich, smooth nocciola (hazelnut), which I love for its pairing versatility: yogurt or Crema di Grom or gianduja are successful cup-mates, and the Levain chocolate chip cookie is the best friend nocciola never knew it had."—Jessica Leibowitz

Grom: multiple locations; grom.it

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Frozen Black Sesame Mousse at Zenkichi
Frozen Black Sesame Mousse at Zenkichi
"The Frozen Black Sesame Mousse at Zenkichi in Williamsburg is dark, toasty, and unabashedly sesame-flavored. It's got the light texture of a mousse, but melts down into dense creaminess like the best ice cream. I'm not much of an ice cream eater, but this is a savory-sweet dessert I can get behind."—J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Zenkichi: 77 North 6th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map); 718-388-8985; zenkichi.com

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Gelato at Osteria Morini
Gelato at Osteria Morini
"My favorite is the three scoops of gelato from Osteria Morini: Pistachio, Caramel-Biscotti, and Stracciatella with shaved dark chocolate on the top just because!"—Jen Weinberg

Osteria Morini: 218 Lafayette Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-965-8777; osteriamorini.com

Apricot gelato and friends at Osteria Morini. [Photograph: Maggie Hoffman]

Mexican Chocolate at Victory Garden
Mexican Chocolate at Victory Garden
"If you're asking me what I return for, it's the Mexican chocolate with halvah at Victory Garden. Normally when people put "Mexican" in front of chocolate, it's for show, but this one has some real spice to it. I dream of that Mexican chocolate—the absurd creaminess, the deep chocolate flavor, the haunting spice covered in a scoop of halvah."—Leandra Palermo

Victory Garden: 31 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014 (map); 212-206-7273; victorygardennyc.com

[Photograph: Carey Jones]