Rancatore's Gingersnap Molasses
When your brother is the owner of Toscanini’s, it’s no easy task to earn your own name in the ice cream biz. But Joe Rancatore has been doing just that with his eponymous shop and top-notch flavors like Gingersnap Molasses ($4.25/small). It starts with molasses-flavored ice cream that has all of the rich, deep, brown sugar flavor promised in its name. Add to that cookies from nearby Lakota Bakery, perfectly softened and chewy from their time in the freezer and plentiful enough to get in every bite, and you've got one awesome scoop.
Blueberry-Lemon Ice Cream at Journeyman Restaurant
Most of the buzz about Journeyman’s pushcart at the Union Square Farmer’s Market revolves around their vegetable flavors (arugula ice cream, anyone?), but there’s no shame in going for the simple Blueberry-Lemon ($1.25 per scoop). Chef/owners Diana Kudajarova and Tse Wei Lim mix their fresh blueberry sorbet (also available from the cart) with tangy lemon cream for a result that’s flush with dairy, but clean and more intensely fruity than most traditional ice creams. In fact, the flavor is so punchy, you won’t mind that the scoops are mini.
The Original Oreo at Emack and Bolio's
Emack and Bolio’s claims to have invented Oreo ice cream. Thirty-plus years later, The Original Oreo ($3.85/small) is still a great rendition of a now classic flavor: sweet, rich vanilla ice cream with plenty of crushed up Oreos that get perfectly soft (almost like cake) but not soggy. Try it in an Oreo-covered waffle cone ($2.50) for the ultimate Oreo experience.
Emack and Bolio's
Ginger Ice Cream at Lizzy's
Lizzy’s is best known for the fresh fruit ice creams that make fleeting appearances each summer, but the Ginger ($4.35/small) is a reliable favorite year-round. There’s plenty of ginger to go around, with large pieces of real ginger that are sugared for sweetness and crunch then mixed into a ginger ice cream. It’s a complex but balanced bite, with the cold and creamy ice cream countering the sharp spiciness of all that ginger.
Lizzy's Homemade Ice Cream
Coffee Almond Fudge at Cabot's
Boston’s ice cream parlors offer a lot in the way of exotic flavors and bold spices, but sometimes you’d rather have nostalgia than an adzuki bean. At Cabot’s—a soda fountain that’s been in business since 1969—you can hunker down with an ice cream that tastes just like childhood. The Coffee Almond Fudge ($3.09/small) is rich and chocolatey, verging on mocha instead of straight-up coffee. And with a whole almond or two in every bite, Cabot’s certainly doesn’t skimp on the nuts.
Earl Grey at Toscanini's
This perennial “Best of Boston” winner can basically do no wrong, as evidenced by dozens of accolades and an always-crowded storefront. The Earl Grey ($4.25/small) isn’t new to the menu, but it’s always slipped past my radar on past trips. I like my tea sweet and with a borderline inappropriate amount of cream, which must be how Gus Rancatore takes his. It’s a supremely rich and creamy ice cream without any chunks or swirls, just tiny flecks of the tea it was infused with.. On a 95-degree Boston day, it’s the only possible way to enjoy a cup of tea.
Cucumber Ice Cream at J.P. Lick's
The kid behind the counter didn't want me to try the Cucumber ice cream ($4.25/small). I'm not surprised that a high schooler slinging scoops at J.P. Licks wasn't interested in an ice cream made from pureed cucumbers, lemon juice, and ginger brandy—and I admit that it sounds like a flavor best suited for a sorbet. But I'm glad I ignored his advice and ordered a cup. It's light and airy with a cucumber flavor that is subtle, bright, and incredibly refreshing.
Local Raspberry at Picco
A mere twenty-five miles separates the South End from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Mass., so Picco means it when they call this stuff Local Raspberry ($3.50/small). And that fresh-off-the-farm flavor comes through, with a subtle tanginess in the ice cream playing against the sweetness of ripe raspberries. A word to the wise: This flavor is available on a rotating basis during the summer season, with other fresh fruit flavors making appearances. But if it’s slow week for fruit, you can always tide yourself over with Picco’s stellar chocolate.
Strawberry at Trombetta's Farm
Trombetta’s Farm comes to Brookline one day a week this summer, bringing with them a truck filled with some of summer’s best flavors. (Sadly, the mini-golf isn’t as easy to transport from Marlborough.) As you’d expect of ice cream at a farmers market, the Strawberry ($3.65/small) tastes just like fresh berries and rich cream. The fruit is only local when available, but it’s always plentiful and perfectly ripe.
Khulfi Ice Cream at Christina's Homemade Ice Cream
When you share retail space with a spice shop, exotic flavors have a way of turning up in your ice cream. And at Christina’s, the intensity of the cardamom and pistachio in the Khulfi ($2.95/small) does justice to the frozen Indian sweet that inspired it. The ice cream itself has lots of warm spice with just a hint of smoke, with large pieces of pistachios lending pleasant chew amidst all that creaminess.