Dish: The Only Cure Is More Ice Cream

Three area parlors for scooping up your next frozen fix
an affogato in a dish at Froge
An affogato at Forge’s ice cream counter. Photo: Alonso Nichols
September 6, 2016

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This is one in an occasional series about eating establishments near Tufts’ three campuses. Have a suggestion for a place for us to explore? Email now@tufts.edu.

Like chocolate, ice cream is never far from our hearts and mouths. All traces of ice cream guilt are tossed aside each summer as blithely as last year’s swimwear. As the scooperies continue to multiply, here are some that have attracted notice since my last survey.

Fans of Diesel in Davis Square are likely to be familiar with its Somerville Avenue bakery spinoff Forge, which in turn has spawned an old-fashioned ice cream counter. The selection of relatively straightforward flavors may not appear to offer much to distinguish itself, but the proof of ice cream is in the tasting.

Given the coffee pedigree conferred by the Diesel connection, I had to order an affogato, the best of all possible worlds: a single scoop of ice cream (more traditionally gelato) topped with a double shot of espresso. My selection was malted vanilla, but the chocolate peanut butter flavor I sampled elicited an arched eyebrow of approval as well.

Never mind that affogato isn’t on the posted menu; the espresso was ferried from the Forge barista, and I was made to feel rewarded for a discriminating choice. If you prefer a more standard option, be advised the hot fudge and caramel toppings are exceedingly sweet.

The fixings at Forge’s ice cream bar. Photo: Alonso NicholsA colleague’s tipoff steered me to Tipping Cow, opened by Tufts alum Anna Gaul, A12, on Medford Street in Somerville. The corner storefront launched in May, but Gaul has been selling her products to restaurants for some time. The laboratory of her imagination results in a rotation of flavors like aromatic strawberry basil, mild sweet corn and fragrant blueberry ginger.

Other noteworthies include such classic combinations as dark chocolate and sea salt, Earl Grey lemon, and lemon with mint. There’s a birthday cake one with jimmies that’s presumably intended for kiddies.

Gaul was trained at Cambridge Culinary Arts, which means all ice creams and sorbets are made in house using pure cane sugar, and nuts are proudly present. A note regarding the plastic spoons provided: too flimsy for the torque required to dig into the creamy denseness.

I had unrealistically elevated hopes for Gracie’s in Union Square after glancing at their complete roster of flavors. A couple visits later, I was feeling dejected that the kaleidoscopic array planted in my mind wasn’t matched by reality. I’ve walked into my share of ice creameries that are badly lit and ever-so-slightly malodorous, and likewise Gracie’s doesn’t feel like a place where you necessarily want to sit yourself down.

But ice cream cones were made for walking, and Gracie’s earns major points for the ingenious notion of dipping the mouth of a cone in Fluff and hand toasting it with a torch. Staff is welcoming and informative, so I was primed to be impressed with the frozen product.

Salty whiskey, Pokemango pepper, grapenut—all were rich and smooth, but milder tasting than I like. Runny homemade hot fudge isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the detectable use of juice concentrate in the lemon lime sorbet must be marked as a demerit. Late-night denizens of the square ought to be happy just to have a place to scratch their frozen dairy itch until 11 p.m. It will be interesting to see how Gracie’s will develop with the recent involvement of Joshua Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri from nearby restaurant Juliet. The stage is set for greatness.

Anyone who shares my affogato habit will want to know about a couple of destinations worthy of mention. If you’re in the vicinity of Chestnut Hill, you may want to stop at Morano Gelato, singled out for best gelato in the country by Forbes. Their superior scoop is prepared in the old-world tradition and topped with Illy espresso for an affogato to remember. And Giulia, the highly regarded Italian restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue north of Harvard Square, offers a glorified version of the dessert with hazelnut gelato, chocolate shortbread and the optional addition of Amaro Montenegro—a near-religious experience.

Forge Baking Co., 626B Somerville Ave., Somerville. 617-764-5365. Sunday-Thursday, noon-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; www.forgebakingco.com/ice-cream.

Tipping Cow, 415 Medford St., Somerville. Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; www.tippingcowicecream.com.

Gracie’s, 22 Union Square, Somerville. 617-764-5294. Sunday-Thursday, 2:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; www.graciesicecre.am.

Morano Gelato, The Shops at Chestnut Hill, 199 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill. 617-244-5200. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, noon-8 p.m.; www.moranogelato.com.  

Giulia, 1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge. 617-441-2800. Monday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; www.giuliarestaurant.com

Fred Kalil can be reached at frederick.kalil@tufts.edu.

Read earlier reviews on the Dish series page.