Once again we take part in the search for great desserts in New York City that don’t cost an insane amount of money. This time, the hunt for sugar goes a few blocks away from Flushing Meadows Corona Park, at the Lemon Ice King of Corona, a spot known as one of the best Italian ice stores in New York.
The Lemon Ice King of Corona has served up traditional Italian ices since 1944. The original king, Peter Benfaremo, started selling ices out of a cart. Way back then, there were just three flavors to choose from – lemon, pineapple, and chocolate. The business moved to its current spot on 108th Street in Corona, and happened to open shop the same day that the World’s Fair started. Over the years, Lemon Ice King has also appeared in the opening credits of “The King of Queens.”
Today, there are two kings – Vincent Barbaccia and Michael Zampino purchased the business in 1993. There are also way more than three flavors. While in the early days you could only order lemon, pineapple, and chocolate, today you’re free to have anything from peanut butter to blueberry. The family recipe is top secret, but it’s known to contain some of New York City’s famous tap water. This secret recipe is one reason why Lemon Ice King is ranked as one of the best Italian ice spots in New York City. They’ve also got candy apples for sale, if that strikes your flavor fancy.
I’m a big fan of Italian ices. Growing up on Long Island, I remember ices being served at everything from block parties to birthday parties. In my house we always had Marino’s chocolate ices (you know, the frozen ones they sell at the supermarket), and I had never heard of the Lemon Ice King until I moved to Queens. While they’re open all year long, I waited until it was a warmer day to head over. The Lemon Ice King is actually right near a bus stop (it’s a 15-minute walk from the 7 train), so it worked out perfectly.
With so many Lemon Ice King flavors to choose from (coffee! almond! lime!), it can be tough to make your decision. They don't do mixing (not a problem for me, since I’ve never even heard of mixing ices until I read reviews on this place), so you’ve only got one shot to pick the right flavor. I went with my tried and true favorite at any ice place – vanilla chip.
Lemon Ice King is just a few blocks from Flushing Meadows Corona Park, so I made my way over there to eat. It was kind of warm out, so my ice (tragically) started to melt before I got to the Unisphere. I still made it in time to enjoy my classic Queens treat. It was, of course, delicious. To be honest, it tasted like any other vanilla chip ice I’ve ever had. I definitely want to come back to try out some of the other flavors, since things like peanut butter and coffee sound great. This place is a Queens legend, so I’d still absolutely recommend adding it to your bucket list when you’re looking for a classic New York City dessert.
Interested in more bucket list adventures in New York City? Follow along on Instagram at @fiveboroughbucketlist!