2. Taste The Tropics
(1839 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn; 718-856-0821)
Taste The Tropics is a Flatbush, Brooklyn institution. Brothers Jerry and Al Zirino founded the shop on Nostrand Avenue in 1975, as the area was transitioning from an Italian, Jewish and Irish neighborhood into a largely Caribbean one. The shop initially served a typically American set of flavors, but gradually began introducing Jamaican staples like rum raisin and grape nut to their menu to better serve the local community. Eventually, Taste the Tropics became Brooklyn’s first full-fledged tropical ice cream shop with a full menu of flavors from Jamaica and the Caribbean, from soursop to stout.
“We’ve got the second generation of kids who grew up coming here with their parents from their Caribbean and moved away, and now they’re coming back to the neighborhood with their kids,” says Jerry Zirino, now the shop’s sole owner (brother Al is behind the Taste the Tropics wholesale operation, an entirely separate business). The vibe inside is part old-fashioned ice-cream shop (think Carvel), and part Caribbean grocery store, with hand-written signs advertising Jamaican cheese and patties.
FLAVORS: Cherry vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, peanut butter, Irish moss, Strawberry cheesecake, Guinness, coconut, Grape Nut, pineapple, butter pecan, strawberry, rum raisin, vanilla, banana, vanilla fudge, orange pineapple, soursop, peach, praline & cream, Tropical rum nut, mango, cherry rum nut, pistachio grapefruit, coffee.