Rita’s Italian Ice

Written by on May 12, 2012 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(ritasice.com) – H Street Corridor in Northeast, Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: Our friend from Seattle, Shirin, here for a week during this special time of commeoration for the 100th anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the DC area, needed an ice fix. And we got it here.

Type of cuisine: Italian ice and frozen custard. Layered, blended, or on its own. “At Rita’s, our tag line of “Ice Custard Happiness” is more than a saying.  It’s our way of life – and a steadfast promise to our valued guests. We promise happiness, and it’s a promise that we keep. Our franchise partners and Treat Team members stand behind it every day when they come to work and serve our guests. Because at Rita’s, each person who visits one of our locations is our guest, not just a customer.Our guests come to Rita’s to feel carefree, to escape the pressures of daily life, to take a moment for themselves, and to get a dose of happiness! Therefore, our franchise partners and Treat Teams stop at nothing to ensure that each guest enjoys the freshest, highest quality treats — served quickly and with a smile.”

Ambiance: Fun and festive, the red and white striped awning over the sidewalk and the dozen patrons standing outside with waxy cups in hand, welcomed us to the famous Rita’s on H Street. In between the stripes, a single row, in white reads “Ice*Custard*Happiness“, and we soon came to find out why. Red, white and blue tiled floors hosted red carpets with Rita’s logo from the door, and across the front of the ice display case. Walls in blue – Mediterranean at the bottom, sky at the top, separated by smaller tiles in red, white, blue and green – sparsely housed posters in red frames, describing Rita’s specialties: Italian Ice, Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard, Gelati, Misto, Blendini, Light Line. Red and blue specks formed a confetti pattern on the white counter, where our ordering line came to an end. Menu items sat above the frozen custard machines, offering three flavors in each of the two machines. Limited seating at a white barquette with three red, backed, plastic stools faces out onto H Street through the vast windows framed in green paint. Two small, round tables behind the ordering line also accompanied a pair of red chairs, where patrons could sit and savor this moment in their happy places.

What I ordered: I sampled the Peanut Butter & Jelly, Florida Orange and Passion Fruit, and ended up with a regular size of Passion Fruit, Florida Orange and Mango (regular size: $). In our party of five, we also had one order for chocolate custard, one for Gelati with chocolate custard layered with Sugar-Free Sour Cherry, a Gelati with vanilla custard layered with Florida Orange and Passion Fruit, and my Chris, without any sampling, immediately ordered a large ice: Strawberry and Cotton Candy ($).


What I loved: I really enjoyed the Passion Fruit ice, most. The orange was vibrant, full of sweet orange flavor and icy cold. Chris’s selections, too, were both delicious! Cotton Candy tasting exactly like the fluffy, fair treat, but frozen, and the strawberry sweetly delicious. The custard (vanilla), creamy, heavy and flavored with a hint of vanilla.

Why I loved it: It’s the perfect hot weather snack, to cool you off, quench your thirst and enjoy with friends. I also love the history, according to Rita’s website: “It’s well documented that the heritage of modern day Water Ice dates back to Ancient Rome and Greece. It is said that the Romans would often infuse handfuls of Mount Etna’s snow with wines and syrups as a special delicacy. In fact, Sicily is often cited as the birthplace of modern water ice as far as the Western world is concerned. The flavors most common to the western part of Sicily are still among those that are popular today: lemon and coffee.”

Cost: Low to average ($3 per ice)

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