On the coldest day of the school year yet, the three of us resident ice cream enthusiasts at The Black & White trekked to downtown Bethesda in search of finding the ultimate ice cream treat. In 35-degree chill, we weren’t distracted by the ice cream being “refreshing”; instead, we could truly focus on the flavor, texture and intricacies of the dessert. By the end, our fingers were falling off and we were begging for a steaming cup of coffee. Just remember: we sacrificed our well-being to tell you how good (or bad!) this ice cream was.
Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee:
We tried the Coffee & Xmas Cookie flavor, which cost $5.75 for a size small.
Jocie Mintz: Ever since traveling to Florence, Italy, gelato has been my favorite dessert. It doesn’t even seem fair to compare the silky, delectable gelato to its mere ice cream counterpart. And I’ll say it first: this Dolcezza gelato did not fall short. The coffee flavor is rich, and the “xmas cookies” added bursts of sweetness and festivity. Huge fan. Only downsides are that it’s pricey, and the Bethesda location is closing by the end of this year. Sad! 9/10
Sam Mulford: This fun Christmas-themed gelato is a perfect treat for the holiday season. The red and green swirls and crumbled cookie chunks made the gelato both aesthetically pleasing and tasty. I’m also a coffee ice cream enthusiast, so for me, this flavor was a home run. A little expensive, but definitely worth it. 9.5/10
Sarah Tong: Although I’ve never been a huge fan of ice cream in the winter, this was an exception. The refreshing coffee flavor paired with the chewy cookie chunks was truly exquisite. However, I do think that it was a little overpriced considering the small serving size. Another downside is that due to their closing at the end of the year, Dolcezza had very few flavor options available. 8/10
Dolcezza’s Bethesda Row location is located at 7111 Bethesda Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams:
At this shop, known affectionately as “Jeni’s,” we tried a combination of the flavors Brambleberry Crisp and Gooey Butter Cake. The “standard” two half-scoop size cost $5.75.
JM: I won’t lie — this is my go-to flavor combo at Jeni’s, so I was delighted to get it again. Jeni’s has a bunch of quirky flavors, and these two happen to mesh really well together. So, flavor-wise, Jeni’s excels. But texture-wise? It’s nothing special. If you get past that initial quirk of cute flavors and colors, you see Jeni’s for what it really is: just ice cream. 7/10
SM: I’m usually not a huge fan of fruit-flavored ice creams, so I was skeptical of trying Brambleberry Crisp. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but I definitely wasn’t impressed (I will never understand how people enjoy fruity ice cream). On the other hand, the Gooey Butter Cake was delicious — so overall, not bad. 7/10
ST: I was really impressed with this flavor combo. The little berry chunks from the Brambleberry Crisp and the rich, creamy flavor from the Gooey Butter Cake tasted like a match made in heaven. The shop itself was also really aesthetically pleasing, filled with bright colors and fun decorations. If you’re searching for a cute ice cream shop with a variety of unique flavors, Jeni’s is the place for you. 9/10
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ Bethesda location is 4918 Elm St., Bethesda, MD 20814.
Henry’s Sweet Retreat & Bakery:
We tried the Cookie Dough Sundae, priced at $7 for a size small.
JM: We went a little out of the box and tried a sundae, which was…fairly solid. The chunks of cookie dough and Oreos were delicious, but otherwise, it just felt like an indistinguishable explosion of sweetness. However, the customer service there was incredible. My scooper was so attentive to my allergies; if it weren’t for her, I would’ve accidentally eaten pecans and probably wouldn’t have been able to write this story. And the store is absolutely charming. If you don’t like their ice cream, there are plenty of other sweet treats you can chow down on! 7/10
SM: Our experience at Henry’s was phenomenal. The store was super cute, the baked goods smelled amazing and our scooper was extremely helpful and accommodating — she even cleaned the scooper for Jocie so that she wouldn’t die from pecan exposure. The sundae tasted perfect, but I just wish it had looked a little more exciting. 9/10
ST: As soon as we walked into Henry’s, we were welcomed with the delicious smells of cookies and fudge. The store itself was so cute, and I loved how they sold a wide variety of sweets, such as fudge, cookies, ice cream and sundaes. They also had a lot of creative ice cream flavors. For example, they had a specific combo for Whitman, B-CC and Churchill! I thought that was really cool. Sadly, we weren’t able to try Whitman’s flavor because of Jocie’s tragic, fatal nut allergy. Overall, I thought that the Cookie Dough Sundae was amazing. The first bite I had took my breath away. However, it got a little too sweet toward the end because there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of chocolate syrup. 8.5/10
Henry’s Sweet Retreat and Bakery is located at 4823 Elm St., Bethesda, MD 20814.
Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream:
We tried a flavor combination of Earl Grey Speculoos and S’More Please. A small with two flavors cost $4.59.
JM: Okay, spoiler alert, Sam and Sarah weren’t the biggest fans of the flavor combo we got. To that I have to say: I don’t care. One mediocre flavor combo is no match for what I personally think is the greatest ice cream spot in all of Bethesda. Sarah’s ice cream objectively has the best texture: equal parts silky, creamy and sugary. It’s definitely the most affordable option, too, which is perfect for us cash-strapped high schoolers. They have so many flavor options, and you can tell each scoop is handmade with love. And that’s what ice cream is all about, right? Love! 10/10
SM: Sarah’s has always been one of my favorite ice cream places, so I went in with high expectations. We tried a few of Sarah’s more unique flavors, which may have been a slight mistake because they didn’t seem to mesh super well. Regardless, Sarah’s ice cream consistency and flavor selection is unmatched. Even though the flavors we chose weren’t my personal favorites, I’m glad we branched out and tried something new. Next time I visit, I’m going to stick with my usual order: a scoop of Peanut Butter Fudge and Chunky Cookies & Dough. 8.5/10
ST: Normally when I go to Sarah’s, I order a combination of Pistachio and Chunky Cookies & Dough; however, we decided to try some new flavors. The flavors individually didn’t taste bad, but they really did not go well together. The Earl Grey Speculoos had a really distinct taste and completely buried the S’more Please flavor. 7/10
Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream has two locations, with the closest to Whitman located at 5241 River Rd., Bethesda, MD 20816.