Tom Carvel personified the American dream. Born in Greece in 1906 as Athanassios Karvelas, he began dishing out ice cream from a beat-up vending truck that, in 1934, suffered a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York. Two years later—in the same spot where his truck broke down and took up bird watching—Carvel opened his first roadside ice-cream stand, which the company stakes as the first retail ice-cream franchise to ever swirl onto the American marketplace. Today, Carvel’s creamy products serve up sweet reprieve from 500 stores and more than 8,000 supermarkets across the nation. Daily-made ice creams continue to headline a menu that now includes sundaes, shakes, and novelty items such as the Flying Saucer and the Banana Barge. Ice-cream cakes layered with chocolate crunchies have also evolved into one of Carvel’s calling cards, and, like piñatas that stock their wardrobes with an assortment of fake mustaches, are customizable to specific celebrations, including birthdays and holidays.
Each day, Sweet Avenue Bake Shop’s chefs whip up dozens upon dozens of classic and gourmet egg-, dairy-, and cholesterol-free cupcake creations. The daily changing menu features at least 12 artistic creations at any given time. Classic cupped combinations, such as vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, are spruced up and named after hairstyles, including Dark Side of the Moon ($2.50). Special cupcakes, such as the coffee-liqueur-soaked tiramisu and the red berry-filled sangria ($3.50 each), conduct entire orchestras of flavors in odes to beautiful incisors.
A multidisciplinary cultural development center, GainVille specializes in language lessons for children but also offers classes for adults, ESL classes, and academic support, including educational-placement programs, counseling, and tutoring. A teaching staff of native Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, and Arabic speakers leads immersive sessions that not only cover grammar and vocabulary but also delve into the art, history, cuisine, and famous yo-yoists of the regions where each respective language is spoken. To fill up on brain food before or after class, students can head down to the café for some healthy international cuisine.
When Palermo’s Bakery opened nearly three decades ago, it was a small storefront affair. Husband and wife team, Joanne and Jerry Bruno, baked small-scale confections at first, but over the years, Jerry became adventurous, constructing elaborate designer cakes that grew more intricate over the years. Twenty-five years later, thanks in part to those same creations, the small Italian bakery has grown into two custom cake shops with more than 50 staff members.
Still helmed by the Bruno family, Palermo's Bakery creates lavish wedding cakes bursting with fondant flowers, and specialty cakes sculpted into an array of improbable shapes, such as 3D champagne bottles. Though baked goods and pastries vary by location, they often include more than 20 flavors of cookies, Italian treats such as cannoli, and kosher desserts such as rugalech. All of the duo’s whimsical creations are available for pick-up or delivery.