Rick Staley, one of the owners of the new Ricky's Italian Ice (1413 S. Voss, 713-784-4885) along with his partner, Rick Hedreen, told Café Bites about the difference between a Philly-style Italian ice, a Slurpee® a snow cone and a raspa, which is the Hispanic equivalent. "Italian ice is where you take very fine ice and mix it with the flavoring, then almost freeze it. It's made together, whereas in the others, they have the flavoring poured on top. In the case of a Slurpee®, it has a lot more liquid than an Italian ice, which you have to eat with a spoon, as opposed to almost drinking with a straw."
Rick has family in Philadelphia, and as he puts it, "Every time we go back, we love it and crave it, we just have to have some. Italian ice shops are very popular in the Northeast. It's totally different, and this is a first for Houston. It's a really cool treat. It's completely fat-free, and while it is made with sugar, we also have sugar-free versions. Lots of people from Philadelphia have already found us and they tell us it reminds them of when they were kids."
Café Bites sampled a cup of pineapple and coconut flavors, and found it to be extremely refreshing and full-bodied. It was a perfect way to beat the evening heat in Houston. "We're finding that tweens come in, mix up their own favorite flavors, then text their friends, who then come in later and ask for the same flavor combinations. One thing we have that's different is the Pig's Trough, which is 29 ounces of Italian ice, and if you beat the clock, you get your picture on our wall of shame." Step right up.
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