Man gets scoop on Ottawa's coolest dessert spots with epic 'ice cream crawl'

How do you sample all of Ottawa's best ice cream in a single day? You go on an "ice cream crawl," of course.

In the spirit of the more common pub crawl, Lino Demasi visited 23 ice cream and gelato shops on Saturday, tasting and critiquing along the way. 

His route took him from Centretown to the ByWard Market, starting at Pascale's Ice Cream on Gladstone Avenue — all with his wife and seven-month-old daughter in tow.

The biggest takeaway? Ottawa's ice cream scene is booming, Demasi says. 

Submitted by Lino Demasi

"It's very vibrant," he said. "There's a lot of specialty ice cream shops, there's tons of places that just also have ice cream on the side, and so much of it is good."

Saturday's crawl wasn't Demasi's first. About five years ago, when he was living in Vancouver, he embarked on an epic pizza crawl from the city's east end to downtown, stopping at pizza shops along the way.

A tasting tour

In order to best compare ice cream quality, Demasi said he stuck to his simple favourites — vanilla and strawberry.

Demasi ranked his top three ice cream spots in a post-crawl Reddit, listing the "local strawberry" flavour at Moo Shu Ice Cream as his top choice.

Close behind was the vanilla soft serve at Quelque Chose and the strawberry gelato at Piccolo Grande. 

Despite ordering the smallest size available at each location, Demasi admitted that by the halfway point of his journey, he was no longer able to finish the whole treat. 

Submitted by Lino Demasi

"Towards the end, my stomach was saying no more ice cream, just stop putting it in your mouth," he said. "I didn't listen."

Though he managed to avoid brain freeze, Demasi said the experience has killed his appetite for ice cream for at least the next few months. 

"It was a little dicey toward the end on Saturday, but I've recovered fully," he said. "It was a good way to go out."