Cambridge, MA: Impressive Flavors and Ice Cream History at Toscanini’s
Friday, February 22, 2013

Toscanini’s is one of the most interesting ice cream shops in the US. It also happens to be one of the best, having been crowned “The World’s Best Ice Cream” by the New York Times. Founded in 1981 by Gus Rancatore, Toscanini’s was one of the first shops in the US to push flavor exploration to the edge, developing a dazzling array of sophisticated flavors focusing on exotic ingredients and ethnic culinary specialties. Pioneering the concept of ice cream shop as culinary laboratory, Toscanini’s constantly adds new, creative flavors to the 40-flavor lineup offered every day at the shop.

When you visit Toscanini's, you should try at least one scoop of Burnt Caramel, which they invented

No review of Toscanini’s would be complete without recounting its dramatic rescue from the brink of closing. In 2008, Toscanini’s was confiscated by the state of Massachusetts for failure to pay taxes. It turns out that years of focusing solely on quality had resulted in Toscanini’s losing its grip on the business side of things. It got to the point that the shop could no longer afford to pay taxes to the state. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Toscanini’s reached out to its customers, building a website where users could donate towards the tax bill of nearly $500,000. And donate, they did. After only a week of donations, Toscanini’s was able to raise enough money to work things out with the state, and it soon re-opened.

So does Toscanini's deserve to have such devoted customers? Yes. Toscanini’s is still making fantastic scoops, especially for a shop that is 30 years old. It is also an important part of ice cream history, having invented well-known flavors like burnt caramel and popularized exotic flavors like Khulfee (Indian Cardamom ice cream with pistachio and almond). Their scoops have excellent texture, and they continue to churn out amazing, inventive new flavors to this day.

Flavor Tasting Notes

Toscanini's has nearly 40 flavors each day. The ones in chalk rotate daily.

Burnt Caramel

Tastes like the top of a crème brûlée. It is surprisingly more bitter than sweet, even a little savory. It has a nice mouth coating density. One of the smoothest flavors at Toscanini's. SCOOP Blog definitely can see how this flavor has brought Toscanini's fame around the world.

Khulfee

Cardamom base, with almonds and pistachio mixed in. Perfectly balanced, given all the strong flavors. Dense cream, with good texture and well-integrated mix-ins.

Strawberry

Really tasty, concentrated natural strawberry flavor. Frozen bits of strawberry have been added to the base, but unfortunately, these did not integrate well. We could taste ice crystals inside the frozen fruit, which impacted the texture. Other than the bits, the cream base itself has very good texture and density.

Green Tea

Exceptionally delicious and enjoyable scoop, but not very sophisticated flavor development. Unlike some great green tea ice creams that have a very nuanced, deep flavor, this particular scoop was unusually light and relatively sweet. We found some ice crystals in our scoop, which affected an otherwise enjoyable texture.

8.5
Final Score: 8.5/10

Toscanini's

899 Main St Cambridge, MA 02139