Where to find NYC’s best stretchy ice cream

Where to find NYC’s best stretchy ice cream

The centuries-old method of making stretchy ice cream – booza – is captivating New Yorkers, thanks to a sleek little shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called Republic of Booza.

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The stretchy ice cream that originates from the Levant in the eastern Mediterranean region is traditionally made in one flavour, qashta, a quasi-candied cream with a hint of orange blossom or rosewater. But Republic of Booza specialises in a variety of flavours that rotate monthly, serving classics like vanilla and coffee as well as unique tastes like sour cherry mahlap or horchata.

Two ingredients make booza stretchy: ground orchid root flour called sahlab and mastic, which is sun-dried resin from a tree growing on the Greek island of Chios.

“There is no better city in the world to introduce people to a new food concept,” says Michael Sadler, one of the co-founders of Republic of Booza. “New Yorkers are so open-minded.”

Sadler first discovered booza on a trip to Damascus, Syria, while studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan. “I fell in love with the texture,” he says.

Even though Republic of Booza is a contemporary iteration of an old tradition, its authenticity is palpable and doesn’t feel gimmicky. The four co-founders who hale from Canada, Australia, Qatar, and the US, are connected to the eastern Mediterranean region through heritage or life experiences, sharing a deep respect for booza’s history.

In New York, booza has turned out to be a particular hit among kids, who discover the shop via YouTube videos and are intrigued by the ice cream’s stretchiness. But the little shop also draws in grown-ups, attracted by the unique flavours.

Servers often stir, scrape, mix, or prod the ice cream prior to serving.

Text Nina Roberts
Photos Lina Tegman

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