Many of you who know me, know that I am fond of ice cream. Very very fond of ice cream. Ever since I realized that my body tends to retain most of it, I stopped with my “a Hageen Daas a day makes issues go away” mantra, but I still love to visit an ice cream shop every now and then. Ever since I started my studies at Dartmouth, I was enchanted by the idea of “the best gelato in America” being 7 minutes from my dorm. When I started to earn some money, I became a loyal customer. Although their ice cream really is among the best that I’ve tried, and could even hold a candle to most places I’ve visited in Italy, I have not been fully satisfied with the overall service of the place. The ice-cream was consistent, but coffee and other products weren’t. They switched from (quite bad) local roaster to predictably ok-ish Illy (that can be made into undrinkable slush by not-yet-trained waiter), and somehow managed to lose the original appeal. The ice-cream is still great, but that is about it.
Late last year though, I heard of another “best ice-cream in the world”, Boston’s Toscanini. It seemed interesting, but I never took the trip there. Never until now, that is.
First, let me make clear that I don’t believe in the difference between gelato and ice-cream, as gelato literally means ice-cream in Italian. That said, Americans who (probably) wanted to justify using cheaper ingredients, decided that we should treat them differently. Essentially, ice-cream is churned faster, served colder, with higher fat percentage, which masks the main flavour a bit (i.e. it works great with those bits people in US ruin their ice-cream with).
For my comparison of the two, I treat them equally then (i.e. expectations are the same).
Since head-to-head blind test is impossible, I decided to take two standard flavours that I know well, straciatella and dark-chocolate, and one that I find worth testing, take notes on each of them, and compare the notes.
Straciatella is much, much better at Morano’s. Silky-smooth, just sweet enough cream with thin strips of dark chocolate made for an amazing perfectly balanced treat. In comparison, every time I ate it at Toscanini’s, the core cream base was way too sweet, and the chocolate flavour did not get through, despite (way too) large chunks. Similar story holds for dark chocolate as well; Toscanini’s version is too sweet, with noticeable ice crystals. If you are branded as the “best ice-cream in the world”, at least texture should have been spot on. The third flavour and service and environment however go to Toscanini’s. While Morano’s flavours are excellent regardless of what you choose, they can be boring. In contrast, Toscanini’s flavours are bold and exciting. Burnt caramel is nothing short of spectacular, and the service is amazing. Consistently perfect espresso made this my favourite place to hang out at in Boston.
First, neither of these are the best ice cream in the world. There is simply no such thing. However they are both amazing in their own way. Toscanini’s is a much better place to be around, or stop by just for coffee. On the other hand, while I wouldn’t recommend it as a coffee place, I would gladly eat everything at Morano’s.