It's yet to become a scorcher of a summer, but it's still early — and just a matter of time before the mercury rises and our appetite for ice cream with it. Where are the hottest spots to get a cool treat right now? Here are our picks for cups and cones worth screaming about.
This European purveyor of gelato treats opened its first New England location in the Back Bay in March, doling out 24 flavors of scoops (23 menu mainstays, plus one monthly specialty) in signature "floral" arrangements. Also distinct: its emphasis on gourmet-quality ingredients, like top-notch Alphonso Indian lemons.
Must-try flavor: Copycats may try to keep up, but for a Nutella-inspired flavor combination we're addicted to Amorino's L'Inimitable, a superbly sweet mingling of hazelnut and chocolate,
Go crazy!: This week Amorino launched daily breakfast service from 7:30–11 AM, so you can now get your morning waffles with a scoop of gelato on top. (RIP, maple syrup.)
249 Newbury St.; 617-585-3185
Chill is hot. This just-opened addition to Fields Corner turns out creamy cones and cups in 32 flavors, plus coffee and and a side of — wait for it — free Wi-Fi! Hurrah.
Must-try flavor: Pop some bubble gum in your mouth; Chill has a refreshing take that doesn't run too sickly-sweet.
Go crazy!: The glass cases are stocked with plenty of other sweet treats like cookies and pecan bars made by Haley House, a South End–based shelter, soup kitchen and multi-service nonprofit helping the economically disadvantaged. Its kitchen is staffed through an organization's transitional employment program, providing skill-building employment for those struggling to re-enter the workforce.
142 Park St.; 617-297-5401
An Inman Square landmark for over 30 years, Christina's churns over 50 flavors that are known for being especially adventurous. Not a surprise, since its sister business is Christina's Spice & Specialty Foods, just a bit down the road. (Don't worry, there's plain ol' vanilla and whatnot too.)
Must-try flavors: Cinnamon rice pudding and herbal chai are some of the tongue-tingling selections that make excellent use of its sibling spot's wide array of palate perkers.
Go crazy!: For a splurge that will last a little longer than the time it takes to melt, check out the walls adorned with rotating exhibits of for-sale artwork from talented locals. There aren't many ice cream shops where you can come for pistachio and leave with a painting!
1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge; 617-492-7021
From the Allston original to the newer Jamaica Plain location, here we have a hit with vegans thanks to fabulous nondairy flavors made using a coconut milk base. Creamy greatness without the — you know, cream.
Must-try flavor: If you're indecisive, trust us — get on that Almond Raspberry Crumble. It's only available in the summer, so make the most of the fleeting flavor.
Go crazy!: Planning a party for a nondairy diner? FoMu also makes ice cream cakes using its vegan- and lactose intolerant–friendly formula.
481 Cambridge St., Allston; 617-903-3276
617 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 617-553-2299
This is ingenious. (And one of 30 Things You Need to Eat This Summer.) From its food truck and brick-and-mortar Somerville spot, Hoagies purveys a brilliant act of brain freeze: delicious ice cream sandwiches made from your combined choice of flavored cookies (made by the truck's team) and ice cream sourced from Chilly Cow in Arlington.
Must-try flavor: Given the mix-and-match flavor combos, the options are kind of endless. But Nutella cookies sandwiching raspberry sorbet? We think one could do worse than that.
Go crazy!: The Somerville location usually has some other sweet treats on tap too — currently, that includes some red-velvet macarons with buttercream filling.
864 Broadway, Somerville; 617-620-6810
You'll find a host of homemade flavors at this Union Square newcomer from the founder of the Bacon and Beer Festival. (It's named for his daughter.) The flavors are fun (i.e. salty whiskey), the toppings whimsical (like Fruity Pebbles cereal), and you can even get your cone toasted with a blowtorch.
Must-try flavor: The array is always changing, but we have to give a special nod to the chocolate Fluff, a tribute to the marshmallow-y Somerville-born confection typically found in a sandwich.
Go crazy!: While you're there, pick up a pint from the grab-and-go freezer — or maybe even some Gracie's swag, like a logo-adorned trucker hat.
22 Union Sq., Somerville; 617-764-5294
Because it has become a small local chain, it's easy to take J.P. Licks for granted. But there's a reason that it has grown over the past 30 years from a single shop in Jamaica Plain to a killer ice cream (and coffee!) spot with nearly a dozen locations. Two words: good taste.
Must-try flavor: This month's special flavors include the indulgent butter almond, made with real butter, brown sugar and fresh roasted almonds.
Go crazy!: The banana splits are an over-the-top treat, a choose-your-own adventure of three ice cream flavors and four toppings.
659 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 617-524-6740
Ok, ok. It may not be an ice cream shop, per se, but this South End favorite is best known for two things: pizza and ice cream. (Which may explain why it just grabbed the No. 2 spot on our recently released list of the city's Most Child-Friendly Restaurants.) Even if you only go for dessert, the ice cream is to die for and the scene — especially on the summertime patio — always buzzing.
Must-try flavor: Cherry vanilla. Just yes.
Go crazy!: We're in love with the toasted gingerbread, slathered with raspberry sauce and then heaped with your choice of ice cream.
513 Tremont St.; 617-927-0066