The ice cream wars: 5 of the best
Today a symbol of happy times, it’s hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that ice cream was once a cause of conflict in Amsterdam.
While several Dutch ice cream makers were active here before World War I, competition increased with the arrival of Northern Italian immigrants, attracted by the Olympic Games in the late 1920s. The Italians were hard-working and determined – some were even said to keep chickens in the attic for their creamy confections – and the fruits of their labour soon became synonymous with quality. But when their success led to a wave of Italian immigration, local ice cream makers protested at a tumultuous gathering at the Bellevue theatre, and lobbied the Dutch government for stricter controls. One strategy, to limit the number of workers Italian ice cream makers may employ, backfired when many of these fired employees started their own small ice cream businesses instead, often assisted by their ex-bosses. Today, the result of this healthy rivalry is plain to see, with a wide range of Italian-style and local offerings.
Top 5 ice cream parlours in Amsterdam
Many of these first generation Italian ice cream parlours were named for Northern Italian cities. Around since 1935, this tiny stand near the RAI does the classics like pistachio, stracciatella and pannacotta to perfection. It’s a top choice for traditionalists who crave the rich, creamy consistency and dense, elastic texture of authentic Italian gelato.
After working for an Italian ice cream store before and during World War II, and running a canteen for Italian guest workers, producing Italian ice cream was a natural step for co-owner Riek Cornelisse. Today, this artisan ice cream factory’s known for interesting flavours such as lemon cheesecake, stroopwafel, blood orange and limoncello.
2e Anjeliersdwarsstraat 17
Before refrigeration and the proliferation of ice cream stands, ordinary folks could only find ice cream at confectioners, and this chocolatier continues that tradition every summer with the best chocolate-dipped ice cream cones in the city. They’re a moreish match for gelato flavours such as salted caramel, biscotti cream and raspberry-white chocolate. Open until 22:00, it’s the perfect place for your post-prandial pudding fix.
Massimo Bertonasco, the newest member of Amsterdam’s Italian ice cream family, grew up in a latteria, where his family sold dairy and ice cream. With flavours such as ricotta & fig, cassata Siciliana and zabaione, he is bringing a taste of home to De Pijp, by way of his uncle’s old recipes, local organic milk, authentic Italian ingredients and artisan techniques.
Van Ostadestraat 147
Popular with parents, these cheerfully packaged organic Dutch lollies are made with only fruit, water, tea or juice and a little cane sugar or honey, with no nasty additives. Flavours include ‘pure strawberry’; ‘watermelon & mint’; ‘raspberry & hibiscus’ and ‘pear & orange’. Available from Marqt supermarket and various other stores, city-wide (see website).