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May 25, 2001 09:09 AM

ice cream/Toscanini's

  • j

An ice cream discussion on the New York boards got me reminiscing about when I lived in Boston in the late 80's and used to get the ice cream at Toscanini's in CEntral Square. Please tell me it still exists and that it hasn't been bought by Pillsbury or Marriott! I can still taste their Nilla wafer ice cream. Maybe it is the rose colored glasses of my youth, but nothing I have had in NYC has come close to it.

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  1. In roughly that same time frame, I recall fondly an ice cream place in Jamaica Plain called JP Licks. It was the first time I'd seen ice cream with other stuff mixed in. It was very dense, lots of butter fat, ice cream that you had to chew. Pat

    7 Replies
    1. re: Pat Hammond

      Toscanini's is still here in Central Square and still serving great ice cream. I read recently where Ben Cohen (Ben and Jerry's) said it was his favorite ice cream other than his own.
      J.P.Lick's is also still around town in various locations.

      1. re: Joel

        With or without raisins.

        Hands down- this ice cream reigns. Plus- the owner, whom I met only once when working at a local restaurant is a very nice fellow with a big heart.
        Nice to eat great ice cream made locally by a nice person...
        There is something still "old-fashioned" about ice cream. [Even if the kids serving it have piercings all over! ;-)]

        1. re: Miiki

          Wow, a fellow Grapenut ice cream lover. (Altho I prefer no raisins.) People look at me weird when I say that's a favorite. But Toscanini's really is a little out of control with the price per scoop size. It's almost $3 for a small cone, damn. Christina's is the best bang for the buck (in town at least).


          1. re: Joanie
            Stuck in DC with no ice cream :-(

            Christina's used to be pretty good--and cheap--but the last time I was there the service was surly and incompetent at best. After that, we opted for Toscannini's every time. Of course, I'd kill for either one, having recently moved to DC where the best you can hope for is a Ben & Jerry's...

            1. re: Stuck in DC with no ice cream :-(
              Boston, the Ice Cream mecca

              I moved into Davis Square about a year before the original Steve's closed down. It was my first experience with 'mix-in' flavors, and I'm told that the expression on my face was priceless when the clerk plopped my chocolate scoop on the counter, sprinkled the M&Ms over it and began working them in with little paddles.

              In a book I read about the founding of Ben & Jerry's, Ben Cohen mentions that when they were just starting out, Steve's was one of their biggest inspirations.

              1. re: Boston, the Ice Cream mecca


      2. re: Pat Hammond

        Oh yeah, JP Licks. That was great stuff, too-They also opened one in Cleveland Circle. Herrill's in Harvard Square? Emack and Bolio's? Actually, Emack and Bolio's never did it for me. I remember that the brother of the owner of Toscanini's opened a place in Bedford using modern electric ice cream makers instead of the old fashioned kind they used at Toscanini's. I think it was called Rancatore's. Not as good as Toscanini's. (Isn't it funny how you can pull up information that you haven't though of for 10 years and at the same time not be able find your keys from this morning?) Anyway, thanks for the memories. -Julie

      3. I'm a little late on the reply, but Toscanini's is still in Central Square and has opened in Harvard Square as well. The owner, Gus Rancatore (also owner of Rancatore's) is not only nice (he's thrown me free pints when I knock on the door 5 minutes past closing) but adventurous as well, trying add-ins like wine, beer, pretzels, basil, etc. Many of these weird flavors flop, but some of his hits are memorable, including burnt caramel, grapenuts (as mentioned below), creamsicle, etc. I also don't think Gus is the selling-out kind. I've tried all the "best" ice cream in town, but noting beats Toscanini's (despite the recently-increased prices). They also have the best hot fudge - hands down. You haven't lived until you've tried the cappuccino ice cream/hot fudge sundae. MMMMmmmmm.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jimmy

          i'm pretty sure that it's gus's brother, joey, who owns rancantore's. at least joey owned it 10 years ago when i lived right up the street.

        2. Tosacanini's is pretty good stuff, all right. I think Steve's hot fudge is superior, though. (I mean the original Steve's, which is now called Herrell's - I don't know if Herrell's uses the same recipe)

          I don't mean to get into a discussion about which is the best hot fudge or ice cream, but I -do- have a little tale to tell about Steve's hot fudge. I don't know how many of remember the original Steve's in Somerville's Davis Square, but back around 1975 that was THE place for ice cream. This was before Toscanini's and all the others followed.

          Anyway, Steve's was renowned for - among other things -the hot fudge, of which I consumed probably more than my share over the years. Around 1979, I found myself with an SO who said that Steve had gotten his hot fudge recipe from her grandmother! I scoffed, but she produced the recipe, which we often re-created at home. Yep, same stuff, all right!

          Once at a friend's wedding, my SO and I got into a conversation with a would-be rival of Steve's. I think his store was in Allston. At that time, ice cream emporiums were popping up everywhere. I told the ice-cream guy about the recipe and he offered my SO and me a year's supply of free ice cream for it.

          "What should I do?" asked my SO.
          "Wish him luck and hang on the recipe," I replied.
          And that's what she did.

          You know, I never -did- get that recipe from her!