Food & Drink

Cream of the Crop: Yorktown Native Finds Sweet Spot with Ice Cream Biz

Chef Nick Di Bona holds a cone of Bone Bona Ice Cream.

LARCHMONT, N.Y. – At just 28 years old, Yorktown native Nick Di Bona had worked his way up from bus boy to head chef at Peter Pratt’s Inn, appeared on a nationally televised cooking show, and opened his own New York Times-reviewed restaurant in Larchmont. However, the enterprising 2003 Yorktown High School graduate was not satisfied with his accomplishments. In fact, it was the latter accomplishment that started him thinking about his next venture.

At the conclusion of Madison Kitchen’s “Very Good” review (a 4 out of 5 by more traditional metrics) in December 2013, writer Alice Gabriel said Di Bona’s homemade ice creams were so good, he should “consider packing in pints to go.”

“When I saw that, my brain went crazy,” Di Bona said. “I said, you know what, I’ve gotta do something with this.”

Sign Up for E-News

Bona Bona Ice Cream began modestly, with Di Bona first selling it at the Larchmont Farmers Market out of an ice cream cart.

“We just started packing ice cream in pints and it just started working,” Di Bona said. “It blew up.”

Soon, country clubs and restaurants began calling, requesting Bona Bona Ice Cream on their menu. During this time, Di Bona said, he was driving “like a maniac” all over Westchester to personally make the deliveries.

“I soon realized that wasn’t the route to take because all my time is being wasted driving around in Westchester traffic,” Di Bona said. “I wasn’t making money doing that.”

In order to grow the business, Di Bona was forced to take a step back. Only a handful of restaurants now carry the ice cream, including his own Madison Kitchen in Larchmont and Fortina restaurants in Armonk, Rye Brook and Stamford, Conn.

Now, with a new ice cream truck, Bona Bona Ice Cream is ready to hit the road this summer. He has not decided where the truck will be located during the week, but on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, he will be at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. The weekend festival (Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in Prospect Park) showcases 100 regional food vendors and boasts about 10,000 visitors per day.

Bona Bona Ice Cream is made fresh in the basement of Madison Kitchen. Flavors are always changing, but mainstays include rainbow cookie, Nutella s’mores and backyard mint chip. For Easter, Di Bona produced special Peeps- and Cadbury Cream Egg-flavored ice creams.

Madison Kitchen, located on Madison Avenue in Larchmont, was launched by Di Bona in 2013, after 12 years working at Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown. Beginning as a bus boy at 15 years old, Di Bona said his love of cooking developed watching trained chefs up close and personal.

After high school, Di Bona attended Culinary Institute of America while working in the kitchen at Peter Pratt’s, which is less than a mile from the Countryside development in which he grew up. After graduating, he was promoted to chef for about four years. He praised John Pratt, owner of Peter Pratt’s Inn, for supporting him and his career.

“He’s like a father/brother/friend,” Di Bona said. “It’s hard to find someone who gets you.”

Despite Pratt’s being a second home, Di Bona always thought about going out on his own. He achieved his ultimate goal four years ago with the opening of Madison Kitchen. Running a business, Di Bona said, “Is honestly the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”

“It’s actually not fun most of the time,” he said with a laugh.

Despite winning an episode of “Chopped” on the Food Network, a positive New York Times review and a steady stream of customers, Di Bona said he found himself getting “bored” with the traditional restaurant experience. After patronizing tapas restaurants in the area, Di Bona knew what he had to do to spice up his Madison Kitchen.

“I think it’s the most fun way to eat ever,” Di Bona said of tapas restaurants, which typically serve many small plates that can be shared among the dinner party. “One day I just came in and I bought a whole bunch of new plates and I got my manager and we changed the menu and everyone thought I was crazy.”

Di Bona describes his menu as “new American” (visit

“The menu changes seasonal,” he said.  “We just put a bunch of spring things on. We’re always looking.”

Di Bona said he finds inspiration on the internet and in old cookbooks. This spring, he is traveling to Greece, Italy and Spain, and says he will surely return with some more menu ideas.

“When I come back, I feel bad for my staff,” he said.

Despite all he’s accomplished for his age, Di Bona said he still has a long way to go.

“I’m not there yet,” he said. “I hope to be there one day.”

Eventually, Di Bona said, he may slow down with the fast-paced restaurant business (he pays himself only $500 a week) and make Bona Bona Ice Cream his primary focus. He envisions Bona Bona becoming “Mister Softee meets a really cool brewery.” Except, this brewery would service ice cream instead of beer: “A creamery but the same vibe as a brewery,” he said.

“Honestly, I’m still in the beginning stages,” he continued. “The restaurant just got approved for outdoor seating. We’re busy every night, thank God. We’ll see what happens. Honestly, cooking is always a passion that’s never going to go away, but the ice cream, for me, it feels like I can have a better life as opposed to the restaurant.”

None of it, of course, could be accomplished without his “great staff.”

“I have really awesome people that want to work with me, somehow, some way,” he said. “I just could not do it without them.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


The Hatch Act and Immigration Updates

This is for information purposes only. So, when you see headlines like the recent “Kellyanne Conway cited for two violations of the Hatch Act,” you will have a working knowledge of what it means. First off, what is the Hatch Act? This has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch, senator from Utah. Simply put, it states one cannot advocate for or against candidates while serving in an official ...

Are We All Connected?

A question that has long plagued me is whether we, as a species, have evolved in our consciousness of our interconnectedness to one another.

Influential philosophers, writers, economists and politicians have debated whether that should be our focus in the first place. Writers such as Ayn Rand (“The Fountainhead”) and her followers have suggested that our center of attention should ...

To Harrison, L'Chaim!

At long last, the smile of spring approaches, as an angry winter recedes into good riddance. Our spirit is ready to be re-charged. Damn the power outages, full speed ahead!

For my wife, Elyse, daughter, Elissa, and me, this otherwise exuberant time of year brings a confusion of mixed emotions. In 2003, on the opening day of spring, March 20, which happens to be my birthday, our 15-year-old son ...

Whose Hypocrisy?

March 7, 2018

Councilman Ed Lachterman has an unbridled First Amendment right to critique actions of the new Town Board majority and administration (Feb. 22, “An ‘air of hypocrisy’ at town hall”). But in the court of public opinion, his comments will fare poorly before those who respect objective truth.

The councilman’s political self-interest in the manufacture of non-issues ...

When It's Not OK to Ask If Everything's OK

There is this thing that I do that annoys the heck out of my family. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things I do that annoy the heck out of my family, but I am thinking of one thing in particular.

Whenever someone is in the bathroom for what I determine to be an abnormally long period of time, I stand outside the bathroom door and yell,


I ...

Reading Across America With Dr. Seuss

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’m a school librarian and I wanted to remind your readers that March 2 was “Read Across America Day.”  Teachers, librarians and others who read with children encourage schools, libraries and parents to celebrate this day with their children. This special date was chosen because it is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, the adored children’s author. That ...

Hold Con Edison Accountable

March 14, 2018

To the editor,

I am writing to suggest that my fellow residents assist in holding Con Edison responsible for its disastrous handling of these storms and, further, to support steps that would ensure these now common shortcomings are not repeated.

Like too many here, I, my wife and three children ages 5, 3, and 8 months have been without power for more than a week. That we could live within ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 17, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, March 17, 12:00 PM

Club Fit, Jefferson Valley

Yoga for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

Sat, March 17, 7:30 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, Yorktown Heights

Concert March 17: Songs of the Heart and the ...

Arts & Entertainment

Seton Holds First Social Fundraiser

March 14, 2018

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton school, 1375 East Main St., Shrub Oak will be hosting it's first ever Social Fundraiser on Friday, May 4th, 2018 in the Seton school gym.  Seton extends it's invitation to all to join in a night of food, fun, and dozens of raffles and silent auctions.  Entry tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets purchased by April 6th will be $35 per person; ...