With fifteen minutes until closing time, all of the chairs that didn’t have a body in them were up on top of the tables ready for the morning. Having been on the other side of the counter before, I understand the impulse to be able to get out the door at closing time. It was an amazingly nice night, so I was planning for a stroll with my Cranberry cone anyhow.
The Rancatore family is an ice cream patriarchy in the Boston area. This store is Gus’ and has been for almost 25 years. It is more than an ice cream shop though. It’s a coffee shop for those that like their caffeine count near to that of jet fuel, and even serves good breakfast fare.
The shop had a bit of trouble with the state’s department of revenue last year and was closed for a while. An online surge of support from coffee and cone junkies helped raise money to get Toscanini’s to reopen. They had been associated with a few other sites in Somerville and Cambridge, but only this Central Square location remains, though they still do supply shops and grocers from Portland to PTown.
Even at the end of the night, the servers were helpful and I tried a few flavors. Usually those tastes are to confirm suspicions about what I expect something to taste like. The molasses seemed to land right in my wheelhouse, but that made it not much of a surprise. It was cranberry that was complex and had me thinking about it even when I had other tastes in my mouth.
The balance of cranberry and cream is a precarious one at best. The tartness of the fruit seems to sour the cream, almost to the verge of curdling it, but if that moment is captured it can be divine. What I was hoping for was something that echoed a great cranberry fudge. What I got was a good blend, but Toscanini’s seemed to try to spice the ice cream too much and not let the cranberry run the flavor and there’s something lingering that traces like a cardamom or nutmeg.
While Toscanini’s has various sized tables all around the restaurant, the biggest benefit here is outside the door. Cambridge has just added a cement park at the junction of Mass Ave and Main St. With full, flowering planters and new park benches all around, there’s certainly a place to be.
Cone 1scoop $3.75 2scoop $5
Sundae – micro $3.50 small $5.75 large $6.50
Frappe – small $5.25 large $6
Toscanini’s Ice Cream & Coffee
Open year round