The foundation of every good pistachio milkshake is pistachio ice cream or gelato—easy enough. At La Cremeria in Little Italy, they whip housemade Sicilian pistachio gelato with whole milk. Nearly equal parts of both components produce a milkshake (ok, a frappé) that's highly drinkable and slightly frothy on top.
Both Manhattan locations of Grom use the house gelato plus milk combination—but they use more gelato than milk, making a slightly creamier concoction that comes closer to a classic milkshake when compared with La Cremeria. Their pistachio gelato is less intense in flavor to begin with, but pure, creamy, and likeable nonetheless, certainly an all around crowd pleaser.
At L'arte del Gelato, 2% milk is blended with the silky, potent pistachio gelato. This shake's a bit thinner, but still seriously rich. This West Village gelateria (with a second location inside the Chelsea Market) makes my favorite pistachio gelato in the city. They don't skimp on the real pistachios to make the gelato and it shows clearly, in both scoops by the cone, and spun into a milkshake. The owner confesses that pistachio is the only flavor that doesn't make a profit.
But if its a good old-fashioned thick and highly spoonable pistachio milkshake that you crave, go to Emack & Bolio's where they will whip you up an extra-thick version with their White Pistachio ice cream. Is there milk in there? It seems like it's just whipped ice cream studded with pistachio nuts. (We're not complaining.) It's 'white' pistachio because there's no food coloring in there.
It's impossible for me to pick a favorite among these treats; each shake serves a different purpose and craving. I'm glad to have all of them available—having a million options at our fingertips is part of the joy of living in NYC.