When you live in the Northern Connecticut / Western Massachusetts area, there are plenty of Italian-Americans, and this means that there are plenty of places to get Italian Ice. Really AWESOME Italian Ice, in fact, like at Vecchitto's in Middletown CT or Albano's Grocery Store in Springfield MA, or Smyth's Soft Serve in Enfield. Each of these places have top-notch ice and they are my Italian Ice Destinations.
But there are other places that also sell pretty decent Italian Ice as well and they deserve a shot, too. Places like Rita's Water Ice, a franchised ice/frozen custard store which has several Connecticut locations. We recently stopped in at the Vernon store, which is tucked in off to the side of the former Vernon Circle at 378 Kelly Road in Vernon. It's a seasonal location, only open from the end of March to the end of October.
Along with traditional flavors of ice, Rita's makes "special" flavors as well, often with a nod to pop culture. Lynnafred went for one of those flavors, ordering Swedish Fish ice, while I decided on the blue option and got a cup of Cotton Candy flavor.
Lynnafred's Swedish Fish flavor was perfectly authentic and just like eating Swedish Fish candies in frozen water ice form, right down to the slightly waxy flavor of the confection. I found it a little too agressively sweet for me, but that didn't surprise me because over the past few years my taste for sweets has somewhat diminished as I've been weaning myself away from sweet treats. My Cotton Candy flavor was similarly excellent with it's vanilla/burnt sugar flavor and bright blue color; it was also less powerfully sweet though believe me, more than sweet enough. Lynnafred had a taste and said she'd wished she'd gotten the cotton candy. And though Maryanne passed on the ice in favor of a soft-serve vanilla frozen custard, she too was quite satisfied with her selection (a soft-serve fan since childhood, she's selective about ice creams and not hesitant to say when one doesn't meet with her approval.)
Now that the weather is getting hotter and a quick stop for an Italian Ice is blessed temporary respite from the oppressive weather, it's great to have a few places in mind when one is on the road. Share your favorite Italian Ice shop in the comments.
Smyth's has Italian ice? Cool, didn't know that. Will have to stop by this summer.
Nothing like nice, regional eating joints. Around my parts, we've got a bunch of Chicago-related places. You know -- hot dogs with tons of stuff on them, etc.
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