Gus Rancatore has been scooping strawberry ice cream (pictured) since he opened this beloved Central Square shop in 1981—and he’s still tweaking the recipe. The surprising secret ingredient behind the current incarnation? A zippy hint of orange zest, bolstered by a pinch of salt. Other Tosci must-orders include B3, a gloriously decadent mix of brownies, brown sugar, and brown butter, as well as Khulfee, inspired by the Indian dessert. 159 First St., (temporarily closed at 899 Main St.,) Cambridge. 617-491-5877, tosci.com.
2. New City Microcreamery
This shop’s method of flash-freezing its ice cream using minus-320-degree Fahrenheit liquid nitrogen makes for quite the spectacle. Turns out, there’s also substance behind the process—it results in exceptionally smooth scoops. Craigie on Main alum Alyssa Lieberman creates everything from amped-up classics including vanilla saffron (pictured), with bright-red threads in every bite, to far-out flavors made with beer from Hudson neighbor Medusa Brewing Company. 28 Main St., Hudson. 978-333-7144, newcitymicrocreamery.com.
3. Crescent Ridge at Boston Public Market
Remember the milkman? In this case, he’s also an ice cream man. Almost 50 years ago, the Parrish family started making rich Pennsylvania Dutch–style ice cream as a way to expand their milk business. While the original “dairy bar” at their farm in Sharon is still going strong, they now also have an urban outpost at the Boston Public Market serving straightforward favorites like pistachio (pictured), maple walnut, and peanut butter cup. Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover St., Boston, 617-973-4909, crescentridge.com.
Dairy, be damned. FoMu’s coconut-based concoctions—in renditions such as fresh mint chunk and chocolate pudding—prove that milk isn’t the only ingredient dessert artisans can churn into a dreamy-creamy treat. This summer, the Watertown-based vegan ice cream maker is teaming up with other local brands to create collaborative flavors: think George Howell coffee (pictured) and peanut butter mud pie with a Teddie PB base. Locations including 655 Tremont St., Boston, 617-982-7955, fomuicecream.com.
5. Honeycomb Creamery
Kristen Rummel can trace one of her moments of inspiration to a quenelle of corn ice cream that she ate at Oleana. “The conversation turned to, why do you have to go to a restaurant to get creative flavors?” she says. Fast-forward a few years, and now she and her husband, Rory Hanlon, are whipping up such varieties as Thai iced tea, port-roasted cherry vanilla, and, of course, sweet corn with blackberry jam (pictured) at their new shop in Cambridge. 1702 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3983, honeycombcreamery.com.
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