“We’re trying to balance between ‘This is insane’ and ‘This is delicious,’” says Stef Ferrari, owner of Hay Rosie Craft Ice Cream Co. as she feeds me a sample of Bonfire at the Beach–mesquite smoked sweet cream with candied pineapple and coconut scratch (more later on “scratch”).
A former beer brewer, Ferrari took inspiration from her background in positioning Hay Rosie as a micro-creamery, which she opened in May. An amalgam of a Brooklyn Brewery-style factory and a neighborhood ice cream store, all of Hay Rosie’s artisan ice creams are handmade from cream to topping behind a glass-paneled wall, fully visible from the tasting room where they’re scooped into cups or cones.
This is an unusual move, explains Ferrari–most “homemade” ice creams are, in fact, produced from a pre-mixed base. She eschews these shortcuts in favor of making each batch from scratch, stirring in a bit more of this or a bit more of than until her whimsical visions are realized. Ferrari also makes all the mix-ins by hand in small batches, from coconut scratch, which is like the salty-sweet topping on a crisp, but better, to a mess of pitted, roasted cherries that tinged her fingers a kissable shade of red.
Many of Ferrari’s flavors are an ode to dinner rather than dessert. “A lot of our flavors come from us talking about stuff we really like to eat, and how we can make that into ice cream while keeping it palatable and enjoyable,” she says. Case in point: a tomato-feta ice cream, served over watermelon chunks with basil whipped cream as a Fourth of July special—a playful riff on the tomato-watermelon salad that’s a ubiquitous presence at backyard barbecues.
“We walk the line between experimental and comforting,” says Ferrari. Indeed, this Carroll Gardens neighborhood spot (which has attracted a loyal band of regulars since its opening) offers up “childhood-in-a-bowl” flavors like brownie brickle crunch and lemon bar alongside its more playful combinations.
Ferrari’s plans go beyond the creative scoops and red Adirondack chairs at her welcoming Sackett Street tasting room. Also a wholesale business, Hay Rosie has partnered with several local restaurants to bring specially developed flavors to their dessert menus, and their signature square half-pints are slated to hit store shelves by the end of the summer.
Though she’s pleased with the early success of Hay Rosie, what makes Ferrari the happiest is getting into the kitchen and developing new flavors. “I LOVE this,” she says genuinely, gesturing into the back-room creamery where a log of fresh goat cheese is about to go into the mixer. Inspired by a pasta dish she had recently, Ferrari is experimenting with goat cheese, orange zest and fennel pollen, in a combination called Finocchio and His Goat that’s likely to hit her ever-changing menu sooner rather than later. Like most of her creations, I can’t wait to try it.