I believe Boston is the ice cream capital of the world. OK, admittedly, a bit of a bold statement, but do you know that our ice cream shops stay open all winter long? And it snows like 3-feet here and temperatures fall down way below freezing. And yet we Bostonians love our ice cream. We love it enough to keep 5? 6? ice cream/frozen yogurt shops in business in Harvard Square alone.

When you’ve got that many amazing ice cream shops around you, it’s pretty tough to pick one favorite shop.

Well, guess what? Hands down this is my favorite ice cream shop in Boston. And since I think Boston has the best ice cream in the world, does that make this my favorite ice cream shop in the world??

Last fall there was one of those “buy $20 worth of Toscanini’s ice cream for $10” group coupons for sale. I bought $100 worth of coupons without hesitation, and I’ve already used up $83 of it throughout the winter! Sigh, maybe it’s an addiction.

So why do I love Tosci’s so much?
OK, I admit a tiny bit of it might be for sentimental reasons. Tosci’s used to have a shop right on campus at MIT, where I went to school. I spent many happy days inside that shop digging into Tosci’s unique flavors. Whether it be celebrating the end of finals, sharing a cone on a date, or just having a snack on a hot summer day, I loved going to Tosci’s. I was extremely bummed when they closed the on-campus shop, although the replacement is not such a bad place either.
chocolate mango ice cream Tosci's
I also love Tosci’s because their ice cream has such unique texture. I really don’t know what they put in it to give it that texture. I would almost call it “dough-y.” It’s reminiscent of raw cookie dough, but cold and maybe even a bit thicker. It’s dense, full of that rich cream flavor, and just all around incredible.
Tosci's menu
I also love Tosci’s because they make such interesting flavors. Their mango sorbet is awesome, and really tastes like you’re eating a mango. I actually recommend the mango sorbet over the mango ice cream, which has a less intense mango flavor. I also like the Vienna Finger Cookie, which is one of their classics that they have had around forever. The Burnt Sugar or Burnt Caramel is addictively deep, dark, and rich. I can’t get enough of it! I even tried cucumber sorbet once (surprisingly refreshing and delicious!) and jalapeno ice cream, which actually had a hard time staying solid – I wonder if the hot peppers somehow encourage melting.

Their flavors are never quite the same, and they experiment quite a lot. In fact, the last time I was there they were paying homage to MIT and had made an ice cream full of .  . . you guessed it! NERDS! So funny and so cute (though it doesn’t sound all that yummy, so I ended up ordering something else). You can always taste something before you order it, so it’s fun to sometimes taste their weird things but then order your  favorite. Interesting flavors I’ve seen include Earl Gray Teavarious beer flavored ice creams, Fluffer Nutter, and Basil.
Tosci's Grape Nut Ice Cream
My all time favorite ice cream flavor is Grape Nut. It’s actually not most people’s favorite, so I hesitate to recommend it to everyone here. You have to really like the sweet, nutty taste of grape nuts cereal to appreciate this ice cream. The cream somehow softens the grape nuts so they aren’t rock hard crunchy once mixed into the ice cream. I love this ice cream, and I am always extremely satisfied and happy after eating it.
What more can I say about this place? Go check it out if you haven’t yet, the ice cream is fantastic. You can also get hand-packed pints to take home, and they also sell ice cream cakes. On weekends, they actually have brunch, which I have not tried.

OK, before I end what probably looks like the happiest and most gushy post I’ve ever written, there is one thing I don’t love about the place. It has a bit of a “checkered” past. Back in 2008, Tosci’s got shut down by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue for not paying an accumulated $167,000 (!!!) in taxes that went as far back as 2000. They eventually solicited donations from loyal fans and raised over $30,000 to begin a new payment plan with the state, thus allowing the shop to re-open.

I guess this bizarre situation says two things. 1) There’s definitely some sketchy tax behavior going on.  2) The ice cream is so good that fans are quite willing to do almost anything to keep the place open.

That must say something about the ice cream, right?

Related posts
Rancatore’s (opened by his brother)
Toasted Black Sesame Ice Cream (recipe)
Simple Lemon Ice Cream (recipe)

899 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139
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  1. says

    I haven’t been to Toscanini’s in years, and I need to go back. I actually find that I have a hard time finding ice cream in the area that either isn’t too sweet or too icy. But I do love some good ice cream!

  2. says

    Sentiments definitely play one of the biggest part in favorite food places. I had no idea boston had great ice-cream places. I love that you love ice-cream that much! $100 of coupons! Whoa!

    Does gelato count as ice-cream?

  3. Jessica says

    I’ve never been but will definitely try! Have you been to Christina’s? I hear it’s quite good. I love burnt sugar ice cream…greatest thing on earth!

  4. says

    ooh, you know what i still haven’t tried their ice cream! now i really need to go :) and i’m totally wishing i had seen that groupon!

  5. says

    It took me almost 3 years in Harvard sq before I made it over to Toscanini – but now I’m hooked! Pancake was a surprise hit for me – I expected it to be doughy/not so great, but the guy behind the counter recommended it and it was among the BEST THINGS I’VE EVER TASTED! maple syrupy but not to sweet, almost tasted like coffee ice cream with a little extra oomph, delicious! Seriously, you gotta try it :)

  6. carolynjung says

    Your post made me laugh. The first time I went to Boston was in January many years ago. And what did I end up doing? Eating gelato outside during a light snowstorm. 😉

  7. Alex says

    When I worked in technology square, I went there all the time. My favorite ice cream to date was their lemon espresso 😀

  8. says

    I used to live in Cambridge, and I was addicted to Tosci’s. I made nearly daily visits for their Vietnamese coffee, and of course in the summer there was the ice cream. Now, whenever I think back to Cambridge, Tosci’s is one of the first places I remember. And Boston really is the ice cream capital: have you ever been to Christina’s in Inman Sq.? Amazing spiced ice cream flavors. And JP Lick’s. And Herrells. Yum.

  9. Melody says

    We just tried this place last weekend and frankly, we were disappointed. Christina’s in Cambridge is by far our favorite.

  10. jentinyurbankitchen says

    seems like people are sort of divided about this one. Sort of reminds me of the Mike’s versus Modern Pastry debate. I’ve tried Christina’s and I think it’s pretty good, but Tosci’s is still my favorite. :)

  11. says

    love grapenut ice cream..guess you have to be from boston to appreciate it. can’t find any in atlanta so i’m off to make my own! yes, ice cream makes me happy too.

  12. says

    I also live in Harvard Square and also miss Toscanini’s … but truly, the one I miss more is Herrell’s.  Despite the weird decor (e.g. the “aquarium room” in the back), the suspect cleanliness, and the assortment of sometimes-moody high schoolers serving the ice cream, they had a killer hot fudge sauce and freshly whipped cream … which you just can’t get anywhere.  And maybe all the weird things were part of the charm. 

  13. Megan says

    Not sure what you’re talking about with grapenuts not being everyone’s favorite… The person who introduced me to Toscanini’s recommended it, it was an immediate favorite, and I have in turn passed on the recommendation (and subsequent love of the flavor) to everyone I go there with.  It’s amazing!  Wish they sold more flavors in stores, especially that one!


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