Is Boston still an 'Ice Cream City'?

Boston has always had a (un)healthy share of amazing ice cream shops. Inside the city, most neighborhoods have an ice cream shop or two, and outside of the city roadside ice cream shacks are a dime a dozen. In recent years however, it has been new FroYo shops that have been dotting the landscape. We like FroYo, we really do. But it's not ice cream. This got us thinking: is Boston still an 'Ice Cream City'?

We put on our sweatpants and set out to answer this question by sampling ice cream from the best of the best, one scoop at a time. We tried flavors from black raspberry oreo and fresh peach to coffee heath bar and fresh cinnamon. We sampled cones from Quincy to Newburyport and back again. The answer? A resounding YES. Boston's still got it.

In all, we tried 12 ice cream shops. They were all good, but only the truly unique made our list. We may have gained a few pounds during this adventure, but it will be all be worth it if you use this information wisely.

Toscanini's

Toscanini's [Don't Wake Me, I Plan On Sleeping In, on Flickr]

Gus Rancatore has been dreaming up creative ice cream flavors for more than 30 years. While Toscanini's has scaled down its operation to just 1 store (from a peak of 3), nary a night goes by when the Central Square location isn't buzzing with satisfied customers. The flavors change every week or so, but you'll always find mainstays like Khulfi, Belgian Chocolate and Vienna Finger. Not to be missed though is the Bourbon and Brown Butter ice cream; the brown butter provides a rich base and the bourbon adds a light boozy punch.

Toscanini's 899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139; (617) 491-5877

Christina's Ice Cream

Boston - Public Garden [roboppy, on Flickr]

A hop, skip and a jump up the street from Toscanini’s is Christina’s Ice Cream. The Inman Square ice cream shop is adjacent to Christina’s Spice shop. You can probably see where this is going. Sure Christina’s has many traditional flavors, but if you’re looking for exotic flavors, Christina’s is your spot. Everything from rich Ginger Molasses to light and refreshing Fresh Rose.

Christina's Ice Cream 1255 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139; (617) 492-7021

Picco

Picco

This trendy South End restaurant was earned a number of accolades over "well done" pizzas as well as their small batch ice cream. Picco — which stands for (P)izza and (I)ce (C)ream (Co)mpany — usually offers 6-8 flavors. On most days, you'll find their popular Sharffen Berger Chocolate as well as the surprisingly light peanut Peanut Butter Chip. The real winner though is the Cinnamon, which is loaded with fresh cinnamon, yet retains an incredibly creamy consistency.

Picco 513 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116; (617) 927-0066

J.P. Licks

J.P. Licks

The big kid on the block. J.P. Licks has grown from its humble beginnings on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain to the closest thing to an ice cream empire in Boston. The flagship location still slings fresh ice cream in addition to fresh waffles on the weekend. The popular Newbury Street location was shuttered this year, but newer locations in Harvard Square (a few years ago) and Beacon Hill (this year) have filled in admirably. The ice cream menu features mainstays including Coffee Oreo, Sweet Cream and Oreo Cake Batter but also mixes it up with seasonal offerings such as Fresh Peach and El Diablo (chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne pepper).

J.P. Licks; Multiple Locations

Lizzy's Homemade Ice Cream

Lizzy's Ice Cream [Lizzy's Ice Cream on Facebook]

Often forgotten among other ice cream parlors in the Cambridge area, Lizzy’s is still going strong. With a location in Harvard Square and 2 locations out of the city (Waltham & Needham), Lizzy’s has a passionate fan base. Devotees are familiar with the signature massive servings. With over 50 flavors to choose from, it may be overwhelming. Many are drawn to the Columbian Fudge Avalanche (coffee ice cream with chocolate fudge and walnuts), but it’s the Charles River Crunch (dark chocolate ice cream with toffee almond chunks) that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. For a lighter option, the Mint Oreo is top notch.

Lizzy's Homemade Ice Cream; Multiple Locations

What do you think, did we miss anything?

Nathan Papazian is the Product Manager at CityVoter and a South End Resident. He enjoys cooking, softball, and Cape Cod summers. He hates walnuts. You can follow him on twitter at @npapazian.

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