A Peek At… Emack & Bolio’s Ice Cream

When Zagat rates you #1 Speciality Dessert in NYC 5 years in a row, you do not escape notice. Yet, tucked away on First Ave on the Upper East Side, Emack & Bolio’s ice cream shop stays grounded and true to their roots. Upon confessing that it was our first time (and staring blankly in indecision at the flavor list for a decent amount of time) all the customers began piping up with their flavor recommendations.

Which is helpful, because there are SO MANY FLAVORS.  Like “Bleeding Heart”: vanilla ice cream with Raspberry swirl and heart-shaped Raspberry truffles mixed in.  And “Allman Joy”, which is coconut ice cream mixed with almonds and chocolate flakes.

If you’re noticing a bit of hippie rock ‘n’ roll flair, that’s no accident.

Emack & Bolio’s founders, self-described “hippie lawyers,” started the brand in 1975 in Boston while working pro bono for the homeless, gay civil rights, anti-war demonstrators and, naturally, musicians being signed to major labels.  Unfortunately, Boston’s blue laws made it illegal to serve alcohol after midnight.  The solution was as easy as renting a basement in Brookline, MA, and buying a commercial ice-cream machine.  Rockers playing gigs in town were thrilled by the groovy atmosphere, and loved jamming all night – acoustic, of course – while dining on the outrageous concocted flavours.  The shop’s name comes from two homeless men the lawyers were representing, who suggested the shop be named after them.  In the interest of good karma, the lawyers agreed.  And what good karma it is.
Emack & Bolio’s is not afraid to push the envelope!  They have created “ice cream pizzas”, dipped their cones in everything from sprinkles to rice krispie treats.  But they also stay true to their altruistic beliefs.  They oppose the milk hormone bST, are certified Kosher by the Rabbinical Council of New England, and offer live cultures for the lactose intolerant.  Good ice cream, good vibes.  What’s not to love?

Emack & Bolio’s
1564 First Avenue (at 81st Street)
12 noon to 11pm Daily


73 West Houston Street


Amsterdam Avenue (between 78th & 79th Streets)

7 responses to “A Peek At… Emack & Bolio’s Ice Cream”

  1. Delurking again because I want to thank you for posting about things in NYC that I have not heard of – even though my father is a Brooklyn boy! I'm headed to the Big Apple in June for a conference and I have slowly been making notes about things I might want to try and fit in to my week-long trip because you make them sound so bloody amazing.

    That being said, with the handful of times I have been there, I have YET to enter FAO Schwartz. Neither on school trips, family trips or the one trip I did alone. Bad me.

    • It's great! You should! And it's near so many other great things – Alice's Teacup, Barney's and Bloomingdale's department stores, Dylan's Candy Bar, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and of course it's on Fifth Avenue at the bottom of Central Park. We have a cafe too!!! With really good espresso, I can say from personal experience.

    • I got a soft-serve espresso Oreo mixture. It was good, but now I want to try something totally different! I always order the weirdest thing on the menu, for curiosity's sake! "Bleeding Heart" does sound pretty good, though…

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