A new ice cream shop, coming to West Hartford this summer, plans to mix sweets with a little bit of science and theater.
Milkcraft, which first launched in Fairfield's Brick Walk development last spring, plans to open its next store at 967 Farmington Ave., taking over the space recently vacated by the La Petite France bakery. Its ice cream, in several gourmet flavors, is made to order by blending fresh milk and assorted raw ingredients with food-grade liquid nitrogen, producing an extra-smooth and indulgent frozen treat.
The unique concept secured an instant fan base in Fairfield County for its elaborate, Instagram-ready creations, crafted right before customers' eyes.
"When we designed Milkcraft as a brand, we wanted to bring the ice-cream business out of the dark ages," said founder and owner David Mainiero. "I think the West Hartford market is screaming for something all-natural, high-quality and different, as far as what we do with the ice cream."
Mainiero searched for a West Hartford space for about seven months, he said, and after La Petite France announced its closing, he secured a long-term agreement to take over the Farmington Avenue space. He hopes to open the new store by June.
"I really like the energy of the restaurants, Bartaco and things like that," he said. "I'd like us to be in proximity to these businesses."
Milkcraft's ice cream is billed as "cow to cone," using fresh local milk without antibiotics, steroids or artificial preservatives, Mainiero said. The menu features about a dozen composed flavors, with options like "s'mores campfire" with dark chocolate; fire-roasted marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs; Vietnamese coffee; peanut butter and jelly with caramelized banana; "choco de leche" with smoked black sea salt flakes; and "bourbon breakfast," with vanilla bean ice cream, a touch of WhistlePig bourbon, maple and corn flake topping.
Ice cream is served by the scoop in single, double or triple portions, but the best-selling vessel is the "bubblecone," Milkcraft's proprietary waffle cone, modeled after a popular Hong Kong street food. The cones, with spherical textures resembling the surface of bubble wrap, are filled with the freshly made ice cream and topped with sauces, candies, sweet cereals, kettle corn, housemade whipped cream and even crumbled bacon.
Mainiero emphasizes Milkcraft's commitment to high-quality ingredients, avoiding flavor extracts and high-fructose corn syrup.
"We're firm believers in the quality of the product," he said. "If you try to cut corners like that, it slowly denigrates the product and it's not so special anymore."
Milkcraft also offers bubble teas, with fresh sea-salted cream, and Creameebuns, another extravagant confection that features ice cream sealed into the center of freshly baked glazed doughnuts. Pricing starts at $4.95 for a single scoop; bubble cones start at $7.95.
Milkcraft will also launch a food truck this spring, available for corporate gatherings, parties, weddings and other special events.
"It's a wonderful and unique process, and we're really excited to bring it to West Hartford," Mainiero said. "I think they're really going to enjoy this a lot."
Follow updates at facebook.com/milkcraftct.