Friday, July 24, 2009

Massachusetts Institute of Toscanini's

Boston is great for many of the same reasons that make Chicago my favorite American city: lots of history, water, a city park along the waterfront, exemplary public transportation, great church, food that brings other cities to shame, obnoxiously loyal baseball fans, a strong Irish and Italian presence. But until Chicago proves me wrong, the Boston-area has got it beat in the all-important ice cream category.

When I was in Boston in June, I did a lot of walking: South Station to Bunker Hill to MIT to the Christian Science Center and through the Boston Common back to South Station. Being that it's passé for a complete unknown to impress MIT professors with his genius--That is so 1998!--I had other reasons for being across the Charles River in Cambridge.
Toscanini's is not your average ice cream shop. MIT students slaving away over equations (even though it was graduation weekend) while late-20-somethings with dreads and septum piercings dished up life-changing experiences to paying customers. The New York Times declared Toscanini's "The best ice cream in the world." While a statement like this is too bold for me to make on first tasting, I can say on gut impulse that one of their flavors has made the top 4, if not higher. Brown Butter had a truffle-like texture, with richness of mascarpone and, as for the flavor, I was glad I was sitting down.

Even though I've tasted what must be the best ice cream in the Boston-area, I will not forget to patronage my tried-and-true, J.P. Lick's. Make sure you try their Oreo Cake Batter and their Strawberry-Rhubarb when it's available. Also make sure to sample (with little to no intention of purchasing) their ever-rotating wacky flavors like Cucumber and Disco Inferno AKA Tabasco.

Note from 2015: Toscanini's remains the best ice cream I have ever had, so much so it deserved a refined post, reflecting on my years of visiting Toscanini's.

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