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Real Water Ice

Where can I find really good water ice? I really don't like Rita's :(

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  1. Mancuso's on E Passyunk Ave (I like the lemon best there), also John's Water Ice at 7th and Christian.

    1. Does anyone over age 12 actually like Rita's? I agree with Buckethead, especially on John's. Mancuso's is good too, but it is an Italian grocery store, so their evening hours are limited.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray

        I don't get why Rita's is so stupid popular. It's kind of gross. I'm definitely going to try John's, I've heard people talk about it but never knew where it was. Mancuso's is on the list too, but if they're not open at night that'll be a little harder to do.

        1. re: gwebber

          Rita's success is more about supply that demand. Agree re: John's.

      2. Does Mancuso's make their own?

        I know there are some other shops in deep South Philly, like below Snyder... I've heard of Pops and I think another one on Jackson or Ritner... anyone know about these places?

        6 Replies
        1. re: barryg

          I used to go to Pop's when I was a kid, but I went again a few years ago and it wasn't as good as I remembered. Could be I just had different tastebuds as a kid, but I had heard Pop's had been sold to someone else and I chalked it up to that. Seems like water ice (and pretzels for that matter) is going away and being replaced by cheap imitations. Or maybe that's just nostalgia talking?

          1. re: gwebber

            That reminds me--I also seem to remember hearing that one of the South Philly water ice shops bakes their own soft pretzels. Would love to know about that too.

            I never liked water ice much but pretzels... there are still some good pretzels around but some truly awful ones, like the ones at Wawa and 7-11. Who eats those?!

            1. re: barryg

              According to Holly Moore, that's Italiano's. I had one last week and it was good (better than Philadelphia Pretzel Co).

              1. re: Philly Ray

                Do you mean Center City Pretzel Co, the one on Washington Ave or Philadelphia Pretzel Factory, the chain? The latter is not hard to beat...

                1. re: barryg

                  The latter. I think CC Pretzel is crustier than Italiano's.

          2. re: barryg

            The other well known one is Italiano's on 12th & Shunk. Pop's and Italiano's are definitely better than Rita's, but I still prefer John's.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I'll have to try the pineapple - the lemon makes a lovely summer cocktail!

              2. re: lawgirl3278

                Is there anyone else old enough to remember John's water ice trucks coming around to the neighborhoods?

                1. re: lawgirl3278

                  Lawgirl hit it right on the head! John's pineapple water ice the the best. PERIOD. It is very subtile.

                2. I'm just not sure what "real" means when it comes to water ice. I love the stuff, and eat a ton of it during the summer, but to me eating water ice means a willingness to embrace the artificiality.
                  Last summer I found a lemon seed in a lemon water ice from Rocco's and thought, 'hunh. what's *that* doing here?'
                  I do like John's, and do avoid Rita's, but for me water ice - like soft pretzels and cheese steaks - isn't something that I think of as a destination food.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Bob Loblaw

                    Lemon Ice King of Corona - Queens, NY!

                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                      "Real" for me means actual pieces of fruit, nothing neon and nothing that turns your tongue a color. When I was growing up my water ice had chunks of lemon peel or watermelon in it. Today you find root beer flavor or caramel corn or cotton candy water ice. NOT what I mean :)

                      Coincidentally my pretzels were hot, crusty and salty, not too long out of the oven, and ridiculously delicious.

                      1. re: gwebber

                        I'm with you on the crazy 'new' flavors, but not on the actual pieces of fruit.
                        when i was growing up in the 70s, the general rule was that if there was one flavor, there was lemon; if there was a 2nd flavor, it was cherry. neither was particularly natural, esp. the cherry, which was always a bright red.