Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dan Eisner makes his second Thursday trip to Toscanini’s ice cream at 899 Main St., Central Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Toscanini’s ice cream is selling again in Lafayette Square after nearly four years away.

Though hours Thursday and Friday were announced as a soft opening for a grand opening expected New Year’s Day, that ribbon-cutting is canceled and the shop – selling what The New York Times has called “the best ice cream in the world” – is just, well, open. (Moving the grand opening to Sunday was considered briefly too.)

“Everything conspired against it, including that we didn’t want to be part of a superspreader event,” co-owner Gus Rancatore said by phone Friday as he hunted for parking during a Boston delivery. “We downgraded the grand opening. We’re improvising this whole thing.”

He also nixed the idea of creating a special flavor that might have drawn more customers to the reopening of the 899 Main St. location. “We staggered across the finish line and are encouraging people to be careful. We don’t want the store jammed,” Rancatore said. “Though we do want people to remember us and discover us.”

While the coronavirus and its omicron variant rampages, he hoped to get just steady flows of clientele in the reopened store at the south end of Central Square – a section known to “old-timers” as Lafayette Square, Rancatore said – and the one at 159 First St., East Cambridge. A signature Toscanini’s design element, the square “big table” built for Main Street many years ago and moved to East Cambridge in January 2018 during renovations, will be rebuilt so there can be one at both shops. There’s a square area at the rear of the Main Street location that’s been custom-built for a new big table “where people can congregate – if people are ever allowed to do that.”

“We used to be like a bar, and now we’re more like a bakery where people come in and out,” Rancatore said. “Our most common item used to be a small dish of ice cream, now our most common item is two or three pints.”

Toscanini’s (899 Main St., Central Square, and 159 First St., East Cambridge)