Toscanini’s (or Tosci to the cognoscenti) is part of a very special community. A partial list of groups that we regularly donate to includes the Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Association, Union Baptist Church, Area 4 Youth Center, the Brattle Theatre Foundation, the Secret Gardens of Cambridge Tour, every Cambridge school, Broadway Bicycle’s annual birthday party and many groups at Harvard and MIT.
The New York Times wrote that Toscanini’s was deemed “the world’s best ice cream.” People Magazine said that we had the best vanilla ice cream in the US. Since 1981 we have been known for often unique and wonderful ice cream flavors as well as our weekend Breakfast@TheBigTable. Toscanini’s attracts customers from all over. Bon Appetit, Boston Magazine, Gourmet and USA Today have all written nice things. The Atlantic Monthly published a long article about the accidental creation of one of our most popular flavors: Burnt Caramel.
We take our ice creams, coffees and teas seriously, as do our customers. All of us at Tosci appreciate your support.
Toscanini’s is open almost every weekday from 8am until 11pm. On weekends, we are open from 9am until 11pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
About our Partners and Purveyors
Our single biggest supplier is H.P.Hood and all of their milk and cream, butter and eggs is delivered by Rosev of Chelsea, Ma. Rosev has been supplying Toscanini’s with key ingredients and advice since we opened in 1981. At that time their business was located beneath a grocery store in Hay Square, Charlestown. Rosev drivers are as reliable as the Post Office. They deliver in all weather, and every kind of situation.
We also get food ingredients and paper products from Perkins. Bill Lanegran is our sales rep., and he too has sold us things and given advice since we opened in 1981.
Mark Mooradian owns MEM Tea in Somerville, Ma. We first bought coffee from Mark. Mark moved into tea and provides us with a changing array of teas that we serve to customers and use to make ice cream. Mark’s knowledge of the food business is rivaled by his knowledge of Asia Minor and the Harvard psych department.
Most of our coffee is purchased by George Howell. Howell is a giant in the coffee business. Years ago he founded Coffee Connection. He has been involved for years in evangelical efforts to improve the quality of coffee and improve the lives of people who produce coffee.
Dancing Goats is the name of our dark roast coffee. We purchase it from Batdorf & Bronson in Olympia, Wa. The coffee is famous and the name is derived from the common “discovery myth” that coffee was discovered by a goatherd in Yemen who watched his animals get active after nibbling on the red cherries of the coffee plant. Honestly.
The store was designed by Sandra Fairbank, who has designed many other restaurants. All of the physical changes we have made over the years have been performed by the might men of Community Builders Cooperative of Somerville, Ma. Emilio Puopolo’s son Lou and his grandson Steve have installed and maintained all our plumbing. If you have electrical work that needs to be done you should do what we do and call Fairchild/Sanchez of Cambridge.
If the espresso machine gets the shakes we call Bay State Espresso. For refrigeration we use Lennox-Martel.
About our History and the Founders
In September, 1981 Toscanini’s was founded by Gus Rancatore and Kurt Jaenicke… and Pearl Morrison, Janet Rosenblatt, Rich Johnston, Diane Depczenski, Pat Johnston, Miriam Stewart, Cornelia Rancatore, Eleanor Rancatore and Mimi Rancatore, all of whom worked for free and made contributions that enabled the undercapitalized ice cream store at 899 Main Street to survive its first year. Donna Muffoletto offered advice and emergency financing.
Eric Edelman, Greg Lum, Bruce Gelber and Nella Villacorte, Mark Halprin and Susan Lennox were our generous and optimistic investors.
We also received invaluable support from the members of Community Builders’ Cooperative who built our store, Lou and Steve Puopolo from E. Puopolo and Son, our plumbers, the White Mountain Ice Cream Machine Co. of Winchendon, Ma. and our accountants at Goodness and Tyler.
Mim Stewart graduated from unpaid “intern” to being our first paid employee. She escaped the ice cream industry to become an art historian.
Kurt is now a surgeon south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Community Builders Cooperative continues to exist in Union Square, Somerville. They have built all our stores. Steve Puopolo continues as our plumber and his father continues to supervise everything.
Richard Johnston acquired other, bigger clients in his law practice.
Even an 800 square foot ice cream store requires a lot of help in order to get underway. Within the first year Joe Rancatore came from St. Louis to help stabilize things, as did Sally David, another baseball Cardinals fan. Joe eventually left to open Rancatore’s in Belmont and Lexington, Ma.
There is only one “m” in the word “team” and that stands for “Mimi.” Mimi Rancatore is the youngest sister of Gus Rancatore and Joe Rancatore. While they have been laboring away in the chilly walk-in freezers of the ice cream industry, at Toscanini’s and Rancatore’s, after working at the original Steve’s in Somerville she graduated to white tablecloth fine dining. That is as nice as it sounds. She worked at the original Michela’s with Michela Larson, Todd English, Barbara Lynch, Chris Myers and Steve Solomon. She also worked at Clio with Ken Oringer and the young Tony Maws. She worked at Pignoli with Daniele Balliani and Dante de Magistris. She worked at Rialto with Michela Larson, Joanne Chang and Jody Adams and again with Steve Solomon. For a person with an unfinished knowledge of French and Italian she can work her way around a menu and a kitchen. Most of Mimi’s time is taken up with back of the house functions and she is capable of making superb ice cream. Mimi lives high above the Chelsea waterfront, summers in Block Island and enjoys movies and hang-gliding.
Gus Rancatore worked with Mimi at the original Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square, Somerville. He started Toscanini’s with Kurt Jaenicke and much help from friends who worried about his future. Gus spends time making ice cream, picking up napkins, training people and picking up more napkins. He reads more than he should and enjoys nighttime ice climbing in New Hampshire.