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Bostonians eat more ice cream per capita than anyone else in the U.S., according to an oft-repeated—though difficult to verify—factoid. Whether it's actually true, there are a remarkable number of independent, premium ice cream and gelato shops in town.
Caffe Paradiso's. Most gelato contains 8% milk fat (as compared to about 12% to 15% in ice cream); not Caffe Paradiso's. This North End café's version, made on-site daily, weighs in at a hefty 14% fat and tastes accordingly decadent. Try the traditional nocciola (hazelnut). 255 Hanover St., North End, Boston, MA, 02113. 617/742-1768. www.caffeparadiso.com.
Christina's. Inman Square dessert mecca Christina's dishes up around 50 creative flavors, from honey lavender, to cinnamon rice pudding, and an amazingly addictive chocolate mousse. No matter how unusual the flavor, the scoops taste perfectly creamy—never artificial. 1255 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Boston, MA, 02139. 617/492-7021. www.christinasicecream.com.
Emack & Bolio's. Dieting meets decadence at Emack & Bolio's, a half juice/smoothie bar, half ice-cream parlor with several tourist-friendly locations. The flavors here aren't as extreme as the offerings at some competitors, but favorites include Serious Chocolate Addiction and Caramel Moose Prints. You'll also find rock-solid renditions of favorites like cookie dough, butter pecan, and pistachio nut. 255 State St., Waterfront, Boston, MA, 02109. 617/367-0220. www.emackandbolios.com. 290 Newbury St., Back Bay, 02115. 617/536-7127.
J.P. Licks. Simple but sublime cones have addicted many to the fun and funky likes of J.P. Licks. In addition to a stable of reliable favorites, this locally grown minichain mixes up the flavors each month with offerings like gingersnap molasses and s'mores. Don't miss their ice-cream floats—they're equal parts cream and fizz. 352 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, MA, 02115. 617/236-1666. www.jplicks.com.
Lizzy's Ice Cream. A relative newcomer to Harvard Square, Lizzy's offers more than 50 flavor options like orange pineapple and Charles River Crunch (a dark-chocolate ice cream with almond toffee nuggets) and a soda fountain. The sundaes here are unrivaled. 29 Church St., Harvard Square, Boston, MA, 02138. 617/354-2911. www.lizzysicecream.com.
Picco. With a name that's short for Pizza and Ice Cream Company, Picco is perfect for both kids and kids at heart. This South End spot combines an upscale, trendy feel with an old-fashioned soda fountain and homemade ice-cream flavors including coconut chocolate chip, honey, and Vietnamese cinnamon. It serves real food, too; so if you must, you can get dinner (or lunch) before dessert. If you want beer with your pizza, there's a large, rotating list of craft beers to choose from. 513 Tremont St., South End, Boston, MA, 02116. 617/927-0066. www.piccorestaurant.com.
Scooper Bowl. Whether it's quantity or a good cause that you're after, nothing beats the Scooper Bowl, an annual all-you-can-eat extravaganza held in early June at City Hall Plaza. Organizers serve up 10 tons of brand-name ice cream. Proceeds benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 800/525-4669. www.scooperbowl.org.
Toscanini's. If you're looking for serious ice cream, look no further than Toscanini's. With flavors such as goat cheese brownie, malted cookie dough, spicy chocolate rooibos, and white coffee, this MIT establishment has few equals. 899 Main St., Central Square, Boston, MA, 02139. 617/491-5877. www.tosci.com.
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