This nautical themed, so-small-you-might-miss-it dessert spot is not one's typical ice cream shop. Following the popular Asian food trends of the mid-2010s, Roll It Up opened with the idea of filling the ice cream roll niche. There was only one other shop like it in the city at the time. Now, Thai ice cream rolls are "all the rage," but Roll It Up is still unique in the field. Combining the Thai tradition of ice cream rolls with egg waffles, a traditional Hong Kong street food, Roll It Up creates a dessert fit for the melting pot that is New York.
The Manhattan Sideways team decided to try the strawberry ice cream rolls, per the suggestion of Jason, the owner’s nephew and manager. Through the glass shield, we watched as he spread the homemade cream mixture upon an ice cold slab similar to one used to make crepes and then piece by piece, pushed the ice cream into tight rolls that resembled little roses while combining the strawberries into the frozen dessert. Topping it off with some freshly chopped strawberries, he placed his creative masterpiece in a bowl and handed the cup over to us to try. We then sampled a cone-shaped waffle filled with a glorious vanilla ice cream mixture.
Van Leeuwen began as just a couple of ice cream trucks back in 2008. A few years later, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store on 7th Street and have since gone on to add other permanent shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Owners Ben, Pete, and Laura and their team are extremely concerned with the quality of their product and whence they source ingredients. The vanilla flavor comes from organic bourbon and Tahitian vanilla orchids, and the chocolate comes from a family-run French company with free trade practices, Michele Cluizel Chocolate. Van Leeuwen also offers sophisticated flavors like sweet sticky black rice, earl grey tea, Ceylon cinnamon, and salted caramel with buffalo trace bourbon. When I visited in the summer of 2016, the two trending Van Leeuwen flavors were honeycomb and ginger, but, as Van Leeuwen is always adding new specialty flavors, I am sure that the favorites change quite often. Among the recently added at the time were chocolate banana cream pie and Mexican chocolate birthday cake. Though veganism seems to be a bit of trend, especially with the Vegolution, it has limitations in the ice cream community - but not at Van Leeuwen. Their vegan options are made with only “coconut and cashew milk, raw cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil, and organic sugar cane. ” For many years, the shop has offered vegan scoops in flavors ranging from chocolate chip cookie dough to matcha green tea. “People appreciate that we have it, ” explained an employee, “and they are just as popular as the others. ”
"The Two Faces of Italian Food" is the tagline at this restaurant and wine bar. The perfect blend they are referring to is tradition and innovation. The menu boasts homemade and traditional options - the wine list is not limited to Italian varieties, though the beer is. We stopped in briefly and relaxed with a glass of wine in their quiet back garden and spoke with one of the restaurant's partners as waiters set up for that evening's meal. When we asked him to describe the food that Giano served in a short sentence he told us humbly: "Italian food. No big deal. " Can't wait to try it!
Most business owners know how difficult it is to bounce back after being robbed. Makoto Wantanabe has done it twice and, ironically, has a thief to thank for the very birth of Tokio 7. Makoto was globetrotting in the early 1990s when he arrived in Southern California on what was supposed to be the penultimate stop on his tour. He befriended a homeless man and let him stay in his hotel room for the night, but Makoto awoke to find everything except for his passport was stolen. Stranded with no money and far from his home in the Japanese countryside, Makoto called one of his only contacts in the U. S., who worked at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan. He scrounged up enough money for a bus ticket and was off. While in New York, Makoto felt that men’s clothing suffered from a lack of style. Having always had a knack for fashion, he knew he could change that but lacked the funds to open a store with brand new clothing. So, after several years of saving his wages as a waiter, he founded one of the first consignment shops in New York City. Tokio 7 now carries men’s and women’s clothes, with the overarching theme being, as Makoto says, that they are simply “cool. ” The clothes are mostly from Japanese designers and name brands with unique twists. In the store, clothing that has been donated with a lot of wear is labeled “well loved. ”Despite its importance in the community, the shop fell on tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, Tokio 7 was looted in the summer of 2020 and had 300 items stolen. When Makoto contemplated closing his doors permanently, longtime customers begged him to reconsider. Resilient as ever, he set up a small photography area in the back of the shop and sold a portion of his clothes online to compensate for the decline of in-person purchases. Reflecting on his journey, Makoto marveled at the whims of fate. Had he not been robbed all of those decades ago in California, he had planned to start a life in the Amazon rainforest
This small, old-world neighborhood barbershop is loaded with personality. Everything about Barbiere is unique: the whimsical wrought-iron gate out front, the retro hair and shaving products along the walls, and the high-quality, old-fashioned service. When we poked our heads in to chat with the barbers and their clients—all seated in vintage leather chairs—they were proud to tell us that James Franco is among the celebrities that drop by for a haircut or a classic shave.