The Ottimo™ Ciao Bella® Ice Cream Sandwich at Eleni's®
It was Debbie and her daughters who first discovered these beauties, tucked away inside the Chelsea Market, and later she brought a bagfull over to my place for me, Bo, and Co. Since then I've gone out of my way twice for more, a sure sign that, even in a town packed with excellent on-the-go treats, these sweets—basically, intense Ciao Bella gelato sandwiched between soft Eleni's cookies—will remain in our steady dessert rotation for some time to come.
The multi-branded Ottimos come in four flavors, the best a toss up between the refreshing Strawberry—the fruity filling an unexpectedly perfect pairing for the cinnamony Snickerdoodles—and the rich, aromatic Espresso, nicely complemented by Chocolate "Neat" Cookies, which I guess means "studded with cakey bits and white chocolate chunks." Really, both of these are pretty much ice-cream-sandwich heaven; choose to suit your mood.
Also good, if much less crave-able, are the super-sweet Chocolate/Chocolate Chip, and the somewhat blandly sophisticated Lemon/Lemon Poppy. These will do in a pinch, but are definitely second tier.
Eleni's is located in the Chelsea Market, which can be entered on either Ninth or Tenth Avenues, between 15th and 16th streets. Eleni's is probably best known for its impressive selection of creatively, temptingly decorated cookies and cupcakes, though I've found these to be only serviceable.