May 3 2013 04:14 PM

Frosty dessert sandwiches at Pappalecco, Nunzi's and Lighthouse

Lighthouse’s waffle sandwich with java-chip ice cream
Photo by Mina Riazi

The best way to handle summer heat is with an ice-cream sandwich in each hand. Here are three of my favorite places to get them:

Pappalecco: At the start of each episode, Sandwich King's Jeff Mauro delivers a tiny nugget of wisdom: "Life is better between two pieces of bread." Mauro's got a point. After all, everything from eggs to bananas to mashed potatoes tastes yummier when cuddled by the carby stuff. At Pappalecco (3650 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest), even gelato benefits from a big bread hug. 

Order the croissant gelato and you'll get a fat, flaky croissant stuffed with two scoops of gelato. Blood orange, nutella, stracciatella and mixed berry are only some of the Italian café's many flavors. I taste-tested the marocchino—a coffee-and-cocoa combo—but found it strangely perfumy. After soiling a few sample spoons, I decided on the fondente, or dark chocolate, and the pistachio. 

Dig into the decadent treat and you'll immediately get why the pairing works. The gelato fills the croissant's nooks and crannies, making every bite messy but luscious. And at $4.50 a pop, the hefty dessert-for-two isn't at all overpriced. Pappalecco's Little Italy and Midway locations also serve the lusty sweet.

Nunzi's: I found this Italian eatery on a sunny slice of University Avenue in Hillcrest (1255 University Ave.). A friend once raved about the dessert selection at Nunzi's, so I thought I'd give its ice-cream sandwich a whirl. Neighboring the register is a display case filled with baked goodies.  Cakes, cream puffs, cookies and tarts make up the sugary jumble, but I refocused my attention on the ice-cream sammie. 

Standing behind the counter was Nunzia Daniele, the joint's owner. She disappeared for a minute, then returned with my Saran-wrapped morsel. Nunzia told me that table orders of the ice-cream sandwich are presented differently—on a plate and with a streak of ganache. But I was fine with bagging mine and taking it to go. The soft and moist chocolate chip cookies held together the vanilla ice cream with ease. 

On some days, Nunzi's also offers white-chocolate-macadamia-nut cookies. If the ice cream had been a bit more impressive, the $2 treat would have definitely wowed, but it was still pretty tasty. 

Lighthouse Ice Cream & Yogurt: If you like blurring the lines between breakfast and dessert, then Lighthouse is the place for you. Waffles get an upgrade at the Ocean Beach hangout (5059 Newport Ave). Two of the doughy cakes are peeled off a hot griddle and pressed into a slab of ice cream. Choose from a wide variety of ice-cream flavors—from espresso to maple walnut to birthday cake. In addition to the original, there are also blueberry, chocolate and apple-cinnamon waffles. For an extra 95 cents, you can even add a slice of bacon to your sarnie. 

I ordered my plain waffles with java-chip ice cream, and the $2.95 confection definitely satisfied. Warm, chewy, golden waffles fit snugly around the ice cream, which had a nice crunch thanks to its chocolate chunks. The last  few pieces were tastiest—by then, the melting ice cream had created soppy, drippy waffle pieces that I'd have in place of a regular breakfast any day.

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