If you go
NAPLES — The way I see it, 90-plus-degree days are nothing more than a cosmic suggestion that now might be a good time to go get some ice cream.
And just in time for the dog days of summer, downtown Fifth Avenue South has several new frozen dessert spaces offering cool comfort. In addition to old favorites like Regina’s Ice Cream Pavillion, Kilwin’s and Abbott’s Frozen Custard, Fifth is now home to Spin Frozen Yogurt, Uncle Louie G Italian Ice & Ice Cream and Adelhiedi’s Gelato.
A glutton for punishment, I tried them all.
Each new place offers its own unique feel that is worth a visit. Yes, the walk from your car to these places will require you to break a sweat, but I promise your efforts will be sweetly rewarded.
Spin Frozen Yogurt
Spin, the snazzy new frozen yogurt bar nestled into the 600 block, is a dream-come-true for the calorie counters and indecisive among us. Armed with a cup, patrons can choose from 16 self-service machines offering low-fat, nonfat and no-sugar added yogurts and nondairy sorbets.
And if 16 flavors didn’t give you enough options, there’s a dizzying array of more than 40 toppings to help you guild your proverbial yogurt lily. From choices like fresh fruit and granola to sugar-rush inducing candies, cookies and chocolate syrup, that old cliché about there being something for everyone is really the only way to describe this place.
My only complaint was that my yogurt seemed to melt at an astonishing rate — even in the air-conditioned shop. Once I walked outside it was an all-out race to see if I could finish the bowl before it turned into a sloppy, milky mess. So come prepared to eat with purpose.
The flavors themselves however, are delightful. The tart options like blueberry acai and original plain are incredibly refreshing, while the sweeter options, such as red velvet, cheesecake and cake batter hit all the right notes.
Do take note that you pay 39 cents an ounce, so loading up on heavy toppings can result in a pricey treat. Also, the self-serve style can bring out the germaphobe. As I watched a kid lick a drip of yogurt off his hand, then pull down the lever on the flavor I was about to help myself to, I suddenly wanted my yogurt served with a side of hand sanitizer.
Luckily, they’ve got it covered, with a hand sanitizer pump strategically placed in the back of the shop.
Although this adorable little shop originally planned to sell all kinds of organic desserts, the overwhelming success of Adelhiedi’s homemade gelato, sorbets and fruit ices forced its owners to ramp up frozen dessert production in a major way.
With the recent addition of a second ice cream case, the shop can now regularly stock 74 blissful flavors at a time. And with a repertoire of over 200 different flavors which owners Marion and Jens Schuppenhauer constantly rotate, there’s always something new to try.
I have to admit, all-organic places make me nervous. Like they might smell on my breath the fistful of Skittles I devoured last night in a writer’s-block-induced snack and judge me accordingly. But the Schuppenhauers aren’t preachy at all. As we talked, it became obvious they’ve chosen to go organic for taste reasons above all else, believing that food tastes better when it’s free from pesticides, artificial flavors and colors, and growth hormones.
Their devotion to taste is absolutely evident in the shop’s finished product, with bright, clean, unadulterated flavors that really showcase the original ingredients. Their mango sorbet is unlike any other mango sorbet I’ve ever had: bold, tangy and surprisingly creamy despite being dairy-free. The hazelnut gelato’s deep, nutty flavor holds me in rapture as I refuse to share even a single bite with my tasting partner and fiancé, who, by now, knows better than to get between me and something truly delicious.
For the ultimate indulgence, they make me a banana split, with several liberal scoops of luscious wild blueberry and vanilla bean gelato, and a scoop of strawberry sorbet thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream that is — get this — whipped fresh for each order.
And if you’re feeling truly adventurous or looking for something a bit more adult, try one of their foodie-approved flavor combinations, such as the subtle-yet-slow-burning chili chocolate, or strawberry basil sorbet.
Uncle Louie G
New Yorkers will feel totally at home in this recently opened Italian ice and ice cream store. From the décor, which pays homage to the Big Apple, to its Italian ices, which are made with New York City water, the treats were so nice I had to try them twice.
I didn’t grow up in New York, and my knowledge of Italian ice was limited to those permafrost-covered cardboard tubes that lurked in the back of the ice cream man’s cooler. But it turns out that Italian ice — when done right — is delicious. It’s light, sweet, and absolutely thirst-quenching; if I were stuck in the middle of a desert, I have a feeling my mirage would look less like an oasis and more like a cup of Uncle Louie’s piña colada Italian ice.
Some of Uncle Louie G's flavors border on being intensely sweet, so ask for a taste before you commit, but other flavors, like Coconut Crave and Root Beer Barrel, are right on point. The hands-down winner of our tasting expedition was the creamsicle, which married sweet, tart and creamy into one glorious spoonful of joy.
Uncle Louie G’s Italian Ice and Ice Cream is also really pretty affordable. Our small cups, which cost $2.50, were filled to capacity. Don’t be fooled by the tiny appearance of the cups; the amount of Italian ice crammed into them is definitely generous.
Also generous are all of the options to choose from. There are nondairy ices, which clock in at a mere 50 to 90 calories, and milk-based ices, which have a few more calories, but still only average between two and three grams of fat. Rounding out the menu are ice creams, shakes and smoothies.