Nothing tastes better than an ice cream by the sea. Here are the top spots – from vintage milk bars to coastal organic farms – to enjoy one. Words: Alex Reece
1. FOR PEACH MELBAS AND BANANA SPLITS
Alonzi’s Harbour Bar, Scarborough, North Yorkshire
The counter top at this classic milk bar, which opened in 1945, is shaped like a ‘G’, after owner Giulian Alonzi’s first initial. Giulian, who was born and raised above the family-run Harbour Bar, founded by his parents, makes all the dairy ice cream sold here himself (he cleverly uses seaweed as a thickener rather than gelatine). The original charm of the place, with its post-war signage and red-and-yellow livery, survives intact. ‘We have regulars who first came here in the 1940s and ’50s,’ says Giulian proudly. Retro dishes such as peach Melba and banana split are popular, along with light snacks and Horlicks for stormy days.
2. FOR SENSATIONAL SUNDAES
Nardini’s, Largs, North Ayrshire
This listed, Modernist gem of an ice-cream parlour on the west coast of Scotland serves up 12 different ice-cream sundaes – the biggest being the Clyde Coast Extravaganza, a mouth-watering concoction of 12 scoops of ice cream and 16 toppings (yes, it’s to share). First built in 1935, Nardini’s re-opened in 2008 following a multimillion-pound refurbishment, which preserved the original Art-Deco features, and the ice-cream recipes, which director David Equi tweaked to include even more fresh, local ingredients. There’s a café/restaurant too, for larger appetites, or simply buy a scoop of Scottish tablet ice cream to savour as you drink in the views of the Clyde.
3. FOR TIME TRAVEL
Morelli’s, Broadstairs, Kent
To revisit the heyday of the British seaside, step into Morelli’s, above Viking Bay in Broadstairs, whose candy floss-hued décor and leatherette seats date back to the late ‘Fifties. The ice cream on sale here is also a heritage product, made daily to an Italian recipe dating back five generations. Giuseppe Morelli first came to England in 1907, selling ice cream from the back of his bicycle, before opening this Broadstairs store in 1932 – the family firm now has branches worldwide. They now serve zodiac flavours, a different taste for each star sign. Follow this with an own-blend coffee, while taking advantage of the well-stocked, free jukebox.
4. FOR OLD-SCHOOL CHARM
Brucciani’s, Morecambe, Lancashire
This prom-side ice-cream parlour first opened in 1939, ‘the day before war broke out,’ says owner Bruno Brucciani, who’s the third generation of his Italian émigré family to make ice cream. The interior is unmistakably Art Deco – all Formica tables and geometric wood panelling – as is the menu. Order a knickerbocker glory, and soak up the glamour of yesteryear (Shirley Bassey, Tommy Steele and Stan Laurel used to pop in for coffee while performing at the Winter Gardens). Bruno’s daughter Cristina now manages the store, and Brucciani’s ice cream is also sold at supermarkets, such as Booth’s.
5. FOR FIFTIES FUN
Lickety Split Creamery, Seaham, County Durham
Inspired by 1950s Americana, Lickety Split Creamery has booth-style seating, a black-and-white checked floor and a Wurlitzer playing music of the period. The brainchild of Cindy Bettcher, who came up with the idea while recovering from breast cancer, the business opened on the seafront in 2007 and has since won numerous accolades for its originality and ice cream. Cindy’s son Carl Thompson worked as a chef before coming on board, and together they produce 50 to 60 flavours at any one time – look out for quirky one-offs such as bacon or Irn-Bru. Of the snaking queues regularly seen outside the store, Carl says: ‘We put everything into this, and because of that, it works.’
6. FOR A FAMILY DAY OUT
Roskilly’s, St Keverne, Cornwall
Want to show the children where ice cream comes from? Then head to Roskilly’s organic farm on The Lizard, where you can watch their Jersey cows being milked every afternoon. Also on site is an ice-cream parlour and restaurant, housed in a former cow shed. Take your pick from up to 30 flavours, including Cornish Cream Tea, devised in collaboration with Caroline Quentin for her ITV series on Cornwall, or sundaes topped with fruit sauces made on the premises. In summer, a live band plays once a week (entry to the farm is free). And there are walks to enjoy around the fields and woods, some of which link with the coast path.
7. FOR TRENDY FOODIES
The Hive, Aberaeron, Ceredigion
The home of Hive Honey Ice Cream for 40 years, this harbourside ice-cream parlour and bar/grill has had a cool revamp since brothers Rhys and Rhodri Davies took over in 2010. Interiors are pared-down, modern and relaxed, while the picnic benches outdoors are multi-coloured, like the painted Georgian buildings of Aberaeron itself. As Rhodri attests, customers travel some distance to eat their ice cream – they produce more than 100 flavours at the Hive, including frozen yogurt, sorbets and soya varieties.
8. FOR INFINITE VARIETY
Tall Ships Creamery, Charlestown, Cornwall
Former City worker Victoria Norris founded Tall Ships Creamery in 2008 and has since devised 75 flavours of her self-made dairy ice cream. Many of these follow the seasons, so expect Simnel cake for Easter and pumpkin with honeycomb at Halloween. Victoria is passionate about her product, and ensures her recipes are as healthy as possible, using extra fruit to reduce the sugar and fat content, and no artificial colours or flavours. The Creamery, which is close to the historic harbour, has outdoor seating for customers laden with cones or tubs of ice cream. Still hungry? Visit sister store Tall Ships Treats and Treasures, also in Charlestown, for old-fashioned sweets and cakes.
9. FOR ALFRESCO ICES
Verdi’s, Mumbles, Near Swansea
Verdi’s is a glass-sided ice-cream parlour and café/restaurant with a large terrace and buzzing, continental feel, built right on the seafront at Mumbles, overlooking Swansea Bay. Founder Joe Moruzzi’s Italian family recipes form the basis for all that’s on offer, including the 30 flavours of award-winning ice cream, created here from natural ingredients and locally sourced milk and cream. According to manager Daniel Gilmore, the hazelnut, pecan and praline varieties are a big hit with customers – just the thing for rounding off an authentic plate of spaghetti vongole, made with cockles from local fisheries.
10. FOR ARTISAN PRODUCTS
Ives Ice Cream Parlour & Coffee Bar, Aldeburgh, Suffolk
For a selection of artisan and farm-made ice creams, visit this small, independent parlour on the high street in Aldeburgh. Established by Paul and Sara Franklin in 1985, Ives stocks delicacies such as Alburgh Luxury ice cream, which is hand-made by Lucie Morran, using milk from a small local herd of Guernsey cows and high-quality ingredients (Norfolk-grown strawberries or 96 per cent cocoa Belgian chocolate). ‘Our new range of healthy frozen yogurts made by Lucie is proving to be extremely popular,’ says Paul. All Ives’ cones (including gluten-free and chocolate-dipped) are British-made, and while there is bar-stool seating inside, the beach is only a short walk away so you can eat your ice cream on the shore.