Eddie's Sweet Shop offers a scoop of homemade nostalgia

FOREST HILLS, New York -- Vito Citrano grew up here, at Eddie's Sweet Shop, the Forest Hill ice-cream parlor his dad bought in 1968.

The Citranos are the fourth family to run this cherished Queens institution. Eddie's has been around for about 90 years, and the exact opening date is almost beside the point. It's been here a long time, and patrons are very particular about everything being just so. Citrano is only too happy to keep things just as they've always been.

It's easy to see why change is not welcome here. It's like stepping into a time machine to the New York of the early 20th century. Outside, vintage signage welcomes you, and indoors, the marble counter with inlaid wood, the charming leather stools, the tin ceiling and the amber glow of the chandeliers make you feel right at home.

"We get a nice mix of people. It's really a family atmosphere. We have grandparents bringing in their grandchildren now, that had been coming when they were kids," Citrano said. "We really try to keep it the same. We really try not to change too much."

They certainly know not to mess with the selection of ice cream flavors. Eddie's has 17, up from about 10 that were on the menu when the Citranos took over 52 years ago.

"If we ever take out one flavor, we get a bunch of complaints," Citrano said.

It's all a lot of work. The ice cream, the hand-whipped cream, the syrups are all made at home. The equipment is vintage - the refrigerator, for instance, is around 80 years old -- and when something goes wrong, finding parts can be a challenge.

But the toil and attention to detail are worth it.

"It's the little things that you don't see here... if you change them, they'd make a difference, it might catch your eye," Citrano said.