[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Here's a soda that doesn't get much play anymore: Manhattan Special espresso soda, the thick, buzzy, made-in-New-York soft drink I grew up on and go crazy for every time I encounter. Leave it to the dessert side of Michael White's Nicoletta to take it where I never knew I always needed it to go: an ice cream float.

Nicoletta's menu calls it an "affogato," but the Manhattan Special Affogato ($6) is basically a float with the proportions reversed: lots of their excellent, buttery fior di latte soft serve and a small pond of soda surrounding it. Crushed amaretti rest on top for almond depth and crunchy texture, but the real fun of the dessert is lapping up the soft serve while it's at its melty best—a time-sensitive process as the whole thing turns to soup rather fast. Whatever's leftover becomes the coffee egg cream of your dreams: rich with a balanced sweetness and full of deep caramel-coffee flavor.

So it's an egg cream too? Yup, this has New York nostalgia written all over.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.



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