Four-cheese ice cream from Thirty One is one strange idea.

If you’re a fan of Italian food, there’s a pretty good chance that when you hear the words quattro formaggi you think of an extra-cheesy pizza. Technically, though, what you’re thinking of is called “pizza quattro formaggi,” since by itself quattro formaggi is just Italian for “four cheeses.”

So, linguistically, we should be able to apply the quattro formaggi designation to non-pizza foodstuffs as well, right? That appears to be the logic that Baskin-Robbins Japan is operating on, as they’ve just brought out a quattro formaggi ice cream.

As the promotional video from Baskin-Robbins (known to fans in Japan as just “Thirty-one”) shows, they absolutely want you to be thinking of pizza when you order their new creation, which is indeed made with four cheese flavors: gorgonzola, camembert, gouda, and cream cheese.

▼ Diagram of the quattro formaggi ice cream, with markers (top to bottom) for cream cheese ice cream, gorgonzola ice cream, camembert and gouda ice cream, and cream cheese cookie bits, for some pizza crust-evocative starchiness.

It’s a bold concept, to say the least, but one that Baskin-Robbins is so confident in that they’re officially calling the new flavor “Buono! Quattro Formaggi,” exclamation point and all. But while it’s fine to energetically declare that you’ve created the a “Good! Four Cheese” ice cream, we’ll let our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun be the judge of whether it’s buono or non buono.

▼ Thanks for volunteering, P.K., because my taste buds are still recovering from the weirdness of the Cup Noodle Museum’s shrimp ice cream.

Buono! Quattro Formaggi is priced at 420 yen (US$2.75) for a regular-size scoop or 320 for a kids’. For as unorthodox as the flavors are, it doesn’t look at all strange, with a shade sort of similar to butterscotch or French vanilla.

To P.K.’s surprise, the immediate sensation he got when taking a taste was of salt. It reminded him of sea salt ice cream, which had a spike in popularity in Japan not too long ago, and perhaps the idea is to keep the Buono! Quattro Formaggi from tasting too sugary, since it takes its inspiration from a savory food. There is a sweetness to the ice cream too, but it’s most present in the aftertaste.

And in between the salty start and sweet finish? Yep: strong cheese notes.

So there’s a lot going on in the flavor profile here, but once the Buono! Quattro Formaggi has done its thing on your taste buds, P.K. says the result is startlingly delicious, right down to the satisfying texture of the cookie bits.

Another surprise is that while the Buono! Quattro Formaggi definitely tastes like cheese, P.K.’s mind wasn’t immediately drawn to thoughts of pizza. Maybe that’s because the ice cream has no mozzarella flavors, or maybe because so many “pizza flavor” snack foods also try to replicate the sensation of tomato sauce, which the Buono! Quattro Formaggi takes a pass on by basing itself on a sauceless pizza bianca. Whatever the reason, personally, P.K. thinks something like “Cheese Special” would be just as good a name for Baskin-Robbins’ new flavor, but that’s really the only thing he’d change about it.

Top image: YouTube/サーティワン アイスクリーム
Insert images: Baskin-Robbins, SoraNews24
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