For a few years, Rainbow Italian Ice was sold from a cart at festivals and events or could be found in the freezer case at certain markets. During the summer of 2009, they opened a retail shop in Oakland serving most of their flavors.
What I like is that tasting is encouraged and for $2 there is a generous serving.
I had the orange vanilla. One thing good about getting the Italian ice from the shop is the temperature was right. There were those little Italian ice clumps that took me back to sitting on the porch during the summer as a kid in Connecticut and slurping down a lemon ice from a paper cup that was bought from Grecco's market ... for 25 cents.
The orange had the taste and color of a creamsicle. The vanilla was a little too perfumey for me.
Here’s my report about the lemon flavor when I tried it.
Italian Ice - $3.99 for 10 oz at Berkeley Bowl
They are good Italian ices, but .not greatness
I might echo the often repeated comment on Yelp that they should use more real fruit and fewer syrups. Toning down the colors would be good also.
I’ll grant that even when I was a kid, decades ago, cherry ice probably never had a thing to do with fresh cherries. However, lemon ice and orange ice started with fresh fruit.
Being able to buy a $2 portion and sampling gets big points from me here.
The owner is a really a nice, cheerful, friendly guy. I’d stop buy the shop just to soak up his attitude. There are too few business where customers are felt so valued and welcomed.
I went in with an attitude. I glanced at the artificial colors and upped my attitude. “Do you still use HFCS?” I said with disdain.
He said only the mango had HFCS and steered me to the sugar-free flavors
“I don’t want artificial sweeteners”, I said with the charm of a prison guard during a riot.
Smiling, he started handing out samples of the flavors made with good old sugar. He makes the Afghani Bolini guys at the farmers market look like slackers. So I bought the orange vanilla.
His enthusiasm is infectious. He has plans to expand the shop to a café with cupcakes and other baked goods.
I’ll stop by again, probably when I’m at the Grand Lake farmers market. In the end I enjoyed the experience. Maybe as a regular I can drop some suggestions to give a real fruit flavor a test run.
Rainbow Italian Ice - CLOSED
3272 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610