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water ice?

I think this is a regional specialty – at least, I have never seen water ice north of Long Island or south of DC. We discovered it when my now-husband moved to the Philly area during our dating days, and except for one or two chance encounters, have always had it from Rita’s. I liked Rita’s well enough as a once-a-year treat, but I assume that is because I haven’t had the better versions. I just like the texture of water ice (as opposed to the grainer, harder Italian ice I am used to seeing.) I should have asked this before our trip, but for the next time, does anyone have any suggestions for great, non-chain water ice?

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  1. there was a guy who sold it out of his truck at penn treaty park for $1, but i haven't seen him my past few times there.

    in manayunk right where the bike path hits main street there is a little water ice shack that's quite popular. i always stop there on my sunday brunch bike rides.

    my favorite flavor from both vendors is mango. :)

    1. My husband is a huge mango fan! Thanks for the tips.

      1. italiano's in south philly
        12th and shunk

        1. Hands down, Rosati water ice - my favorite is the lemon - not too sweet. It's a local family owned business. You can get it at select vendors and corner stores.

          At their plant in Clifton Heights, they serve it with wide flat spoons, not the ice cream scoop - its that fresh.

          1. Just had some damn good water ice in the Graduate Hospital area. 19th and Catharine. The place is called Ruby's, it looks like a small Nigerian bodega and it's painted vibrant colors. Lady got the pina colada and I got the cherry, it was refreshingly good. The ice was smooth for the most part, only a few small chunks of frozen stuff, but the flavor was on point. I've driven past before and I think they keep weird hours. Probably won't find anything on the net about them.
            ...Any stores around Rittenhouse that you can get Rosati's, I think I had it before but I'll have to eat some to find out. Thanks
            ...One last note, not water ice, but Fante's (cookware shop) in the Italian Market has this granita, an espresso granita. It is strong and good. If you like espresso you will love this thing. Not sure if too many people know about it or not. Most are concerned with the other fine things the Italian Market offers but this drink/dessert is incredible.

            1. Can't recall the name, but there's a good place for water ice on Main St. in Manayunk. It's a free-standing building and as I recall, they have chairs outside. Someone here will know the name, I'm sure.

              1. Do you mean Little Zesty's on the land side of Main St?
                Originally Overbrook water ice, across from Overbrook High, it has the best lemon water ice, with pieces of lemon rind. Not sweet!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Max Buten

                  Not Little Zesty's, tho now I'll give their lemon a try! It's Chloe's Corner (looked it up on Google), on the canal side of the street: 4162 Main St.

                2. Ah, that Pistachio water ice from the 'Brook - take me back!!!!

                  1. Thanks so much for all of the suggestions! We may have to work in a "water ice tasting tour" on our next visit.

                    I like the Manayunk idea - haven't been there in ages.

                    1. If you ever get up to Bucks County, try the Yardley Ice House. Its a little hard to find, tucked behind the houses on Main Street. But it is outstanding. It was a "Best of Philly" a few years back. Try the Raspberry, Banana Cream Pie, or the Cherry Bordeaux. I personnaly love gelati especially raspberry water ice layered with chocolate and vanilla swirled custard.

                      1. Our Favorite Water Ice, Ice Cream, Candy place is Maron's Chocolate next to the Dibruno on 17th street. We took my 5 year old niece their yesterday as she has been missing "Philly Wudder Ice (she Lives in CA)". We sampled some Water Ice... chocolate (real choc chips), cheery, mango and my nieces favorite Cotton Candy. Definitely worth a trip Imho.


                        1. There is no debate for me: John's Water Ice, at 7th and Christian in South Philly, is the real deal. It is only open seasonally, and there are four flavors: cherry, chocolate, lemon and pineapple. On the weekends they produce an additional special flavor. I have been going there since I was a little kid.
                          Rita's tastes completely artificial to me and I would rather skip it than eat it.
                          Also in South Philly is Renzulli's on south 9th in the Italian Market.