Quincy spot has the best cold treat you’ve tried all summer
Let’s face it—when many (if not most) people are looking to cool down with a frozen treat on a hot summer day, they tend to go with ice cream, soft serve, or perhaps frozen yogurt, though that craze seems to be fading a bit. Some of the other options out there are good ones, too, including frozen slush, sorbet, sherbet, custard, and gelato. It seems that this last one should be more popular—but it really isn’t for some reason, which could be why a new spot in Quincy called Italian Café Gelato opened with not a whole lot of fanfare, even though it debuted in June at about the time when things were starting to heat up a bit outside. So why is gelato often a forgotten treat? That’s a question to be left for another day (which is one way of saying “I really don’t know”), but a couple of visits to this new spot behind the downtown area of Boston’s southern neighbor indicated that maybe gelato should be more popular—and this place in particular really needs to be considered during these dog days of summer.
Italian Café Gelato is one of a few food spots located in the new West of Chestnut Apartments complex, which is located, well, west of Chestnut Street in the bottom floor of a luxury development that is part of downtown Quincy’s ongoing rebirth. The upscale touches of the residential structure can be found in the cafe, as it has an almost elegant and classy feel to it, which you don’t often find in shops featuring frozen treats. The ordering area—complete with bins of gelato from which customers can sample—is at the entrance door, while separate seating areas can be found to the left and right of the main room, and a mix of tables, counters, chairs, couches, and sofas allow for options of varying comfort. The space has the overall vibe of a warm and inviting European cafe, and the hanging lights and a floor that gives the appearance of reclaimed wood add an extra bit of homeyness to it.
Italian Café Gelato has a connection to Casa Razdora, a little-known Italian eatery in downtown Boston: Two of the cafe owners run the Water Street dining spot. A third owner comes from Italy and learned the craft of gelato-making before moving to this country. And what exactly is gelato? Well, it’s a bit like ice cream, but it’s made with more milk than cream and is generally denser because of the slower churning process used. The density of the gelato helps create bolder flavors, and the options at Italian Café Gelato certainly lean toward the bold, with such options as tiramisu, Nutella, pistachio, rocher (as in those rich-tasting round Italian chocolates), amaretto, cannoli, stracciatella, and even the basic vanilla all having intense flavors that aren’t overshadowed by the butterfat found more prominently in ice cream. Italian Café Gelato has more than just gelato as well; Salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, tea, and more are also offered, though gelato does appear to be the main draw.
Will Italian Café Gelato ultimately become a destination spot with lines out the door during the warmer months? It’s indeed possible, especially once downtown Quincy’s major renovation project is complete and both the parking and driving situations are a bit more settled. But for now, the place is a bit of a hidden gem, slightly off the beaten path behind Quincy Center’s main drag, and a spot that—especially on weeknights—isn’t all that crowded. That may change once the word gets out about it, and based on first impressions of this place, the quality of the gelato makes the case that this is a superb alternative to the many ice cream shops and stands that are scattered throughout the South Shore.
ITALIAN CAFÉ GELATO. 17 CHESTNUT ST., QUINCY. ITALIANCAFEGELATO.COM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.