Rita's Italian Ice Ice Baby
On left: strawberry ice and vanilla custard with Nerds. On right: root beer ice and vanilla custard with peanut butter cups (yes, weird).
Rita's Italian Ice, or Rita's Water Ice, or as the corporate website put its, Rita's Ice-Custard-Happiness, is a quickly growing frozen treats franchise out of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, (near Philly). In addition to their many names, they also have many many many combos.
One can have a straight Rita's ice (think sorbet) that comes in a variety of mostly fruity flavors. Or, one could go more dairy and have frozen custard (soft serve style). Then there are mixin's like Reese's, Snickers or Oreos; or real fruit. Or ... wait for it ... you can get all of those things mixed together.
Party tip: Before you walk in to a store and hold up the line, while a guy behind you has an actual cooler in hand to transport his frozen treats home, do your homework. See, I didn't do enough homework and so on Sunday I was that person holding up the line. (Cooler guy was ahead of me, thankfully. He also had his Honda hastily double-parked outside, so I was intimidated on several levels.)
But, let's say you have a kid who is focused on the Reese's peanut butter cups because that's all he can see from his 3-foot perspective.
Me: "So, what mixin' works with the Reese's?"
Kid behind counter: "Um ... Well ... Maybe root beer."
Me, highly skeptic: "OK. So root beer ice, and what flavor custard?"
Kid: "Um ..."
Me (He has no idea.): "OK. Well, let's try it with vanilla."
So, he mixes root beer Italian ice with Reese's peanut butter cups and vanilla custard. The result was this confusing taste bud experience. Thankfully, most kids don't stop to think about it. They just eat. It was good enough.
I was a rookie at Rita's game, so I'll chalk it up to that. The straight ice business looks more promising. If you're going to mix things, you need to have prior knowledge of how the different factors work together.
A better combo was a strawberry ice with some candy and vanilla custard. Maybe chocolate-anything and ice aren't a good combo. Who knew?
There are also a few different options for just an Italian ice and custard blend (like lemon ice and vanilla custard). Those two can either be layered (a "gelati") or blended (a "misto").
Tired head, yet? It might take a few trips to get the hang of things.
Currently there are locations in Plano, Flower Mound, Southlake and Fort Worth.
On another note, last week Rita's donated more than $350,000 to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for all kids with cancer.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.