Nothing Like Ice Cream From Home

by Allison Yan ’19


What makes some ice cream better than others?

Since arriving at Harvard, I’ve realized that Cantabrigians, and Bostonians at large, sincerely appreciate their ice cream. JP Licks is a staple, a place that locals and college students alike frequent, even when the weather dips. Lizzy’s is a less bustling, more intimate alternative to JP Licks. And then there’s the lovely Toscanini’s, for the rare few who find the time to trek to Central Square.

I’m proud to say that I’ve tried them all by now. But it’s just not the same as ice cream back home.


Cincinnati, Ohio is home to many things: an average baseball team, a slightly above-average football team, and, most importantly, Oprah Winfrey’s favorite ice cream. You read that right. Cincinnati is home to Graeter’s ice cream. Many of my fondest childhood memories are from post-event treats to Graeter’s, where I would shamelessly indulge in black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream sundaes (those were my mom’s favorite, so they had to be my favorite as well). She was very particular about her sundaes, and so was I: one scoop of black raspberry chocolate chip with whipped cream, nuts, and black raspberry syrup. She always went for a maraschino cherry on top. I never liked the taste of maraschino cherries, but since I always appreciated the aesthetic the cherry added, I would get one as well.


Of course, my love for Graeter’s went beyond just visits to the ice cream confectionary for those sumptuous sundaes. There were rarely times when we didn’t have pints of black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream in our freezer. Post-dinner desserts always consisted of our trusty ice cream in a Graeter’s waffle cone.


There is just something unique about Graeter’s ice cream that can’t be beat by the ice cream shops here. The way the ice cream melted in your mouth so you could chew on large chunks of chocolate chips, the heady thickness of the ice cream that would trump soft serve any day, the extra sweet flavor that made it clear that you were partaking in a special indulgence rather than some faux-healthy dessert.


In my first months here, I felt like I missed Graeter’s almost as much as I missed my family. There’s a lot that goes into good ice cream, really. The richness of the texture, the presence of yummy extras (namely, chocolate), and, of course, the memories associated with the ice cream.

Anyone who wants to contest my claim that Graeter’s is the best should take me to JP Licks to prove otherwise.

Basia’s Scoop (#2: Toscanini’s)

by Basia Rosenbaum ’18

This is the best ice cream within walking distance. There is no debate on this. Every flavor I’ve tried has been wonderful. The coffee is delicious too; and what could be a better study combination than ice cream and coffee? And speaking of studying, Toscanini’s is what might sound like a contradiction: a studying ice cream shop. I aim to have tried all the flavors before I graduate (and with my rate of ice cream consumption, this goal appears quite likely.)

Toscanini 2
Photo taken by John Phelan, via Wikimedia Commons.

It is true that Toscanini’s is farther than Harvard Square. It is true that it is far enough that you could even take the T. But going to Toscanini’s isn’t just about getting ice cream; it’s an occasion. (An occasion that I take advantage of much too often.) And while it may be more of a schlep, it is completely worth it.

To demonstrate how many times I have been to Toscanini’s, I can tell you all of the amazing flavors from personal experience. Ginger snap molasses, coffee, cocoa pudding, chocolate #3, cookie dough, butter almond, Aztec chocolate…the list could go on and on. And now serving soft serve, Toscanini’s has something for every ice cream lover.

But I must talk about one flavor in particular: the Toscanini’s flavor. B3 is pretty much everything you could ever want in an ice cream flavor: brown butter, brown sugar, and brownie bits. It is decadent (a kiddie cup—micro cup in Toscanini’s speak—is more than enough), creamy, and absolutely delicious.

My most recent Toscanini’s excursion was motivated by an upcoming paper. A paper that I really didn’t want to write. And what better excuse to take the trek down Mass Ave than for an ice cream-incentivized study break.

I got the chocolate chip, which might seem a bit boring, but it is absolutely fantastic. Toscanini’s flavors taste exactly like their name. They taste as though were just made (and with rotating flavors, this is often the case). Their vanilla is so creamy, and their chocolate chips (more like chocolate chunks) are like a high-end chocolate bar.

Toscanini 1Unlike a typical cream store, Toscanini’s has more of a coffee shop vibe. Quiet but not too quiet, lots of students, good lighting, and most importantly, the presence of great food and drinks. I’ve been for birthdays, for days when I just need a good cup of ice cream, and most often, I’ve been when I just need to get off-campus to study.

My paper is now complete and I cannot wait for the next excuse to make the journey to get my favorite Cambridge ice cream.

Note: Basia will be publishing a Best of Boston Ice Cream series – check back for more next week!