by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
It’s summer. It’s the San Joaquin Valley. It’s hot…and you want something cold. There’s ice cream, shaved ice, frozen yogurt…and now there’s Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard in Clovis, across from the Sierra Vista Mall and in front of Party City. Rita’s has grown from its origins in Philadelphia to a chain that has over 600 locations, but this is their first in the Valley south of Modesto.
Italian ice is a combination of fresh fruit and water, frozen into a slush, a lot like a more-solid Slurpee that is scooped up into your cup or cone. There are lots and lots of flavors, but they rotate during the day so there are only 12 buckets on display at a time. Because the ingredients are so fresh, any unfinished bucket is removed after 36 hours. My favorite flavors are Mango and Root Beer, but Lemon is very popular.
Rita’s frozen custard goes beyond your everyday ice cream and frozen yogurt with an egg-based mix. During the national egg shortage (You didn’t know? It was in all the papers….Oh, that’s right, we’re on the internet), the company switched to a soft-serve ice cream, but managed to get a secured egg source and had returned to frozen custard by the beginning of 2016. The custard is rich with eggy goodness, and doesn’t have the bitter back taste of frozen yogurt. Almost a dozen flavors are available at a time, and they also have the 36-hour freshness promise—I’m partial to the Butter Pecan. The Vanilla and Chocolate custards have a separate machine, so you can get the flavors swirled and twisted together.
For a wild experience, try the Gelati. It starts with a layer of Custard, fills the rest of the cup with Italian Ice, and tops it off with a swirl of custard. It’s like a snow cone sandwiched in soft-serve ice cream…with benefits. You spoon up the iciness and the smooth custard, and your taste buds say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…thank you.” My wife swears by a combo of Black Raspberry custard and Lemon ice in a waffle cone dish.
The Blendini whips custard and ice together with favorite treats like chunks of Oreos or M&M Minis. Why settle for the best of both worlds, when you can get the best of three of them? You can have milk shakes, frozen drinks, cones, toppings, and more. Take home a pint of frozen custard for a late-night freezer raid. There’s bound to be something that your heart has always desired, but you didn’t know it existed.
I’m not positive, but I suspect this stuff may be addictive. In the first week they were open, I dropped by four times…or was it five? Anyway, each time was wonderful, and it is now a part of our budget. Come on over.
Stop the presses…er…internet! I have a new favorite flavor at Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard…CHOCOLATE! It may be hard to imagine chocolate ice, but it’s like a Tootsie Roll that doesn’t stick to your teeth! Slick and soothing and sinful! I highly recommend it, but it isn’t always in the rotation, so go back often and watch for it.
Rita’s in Clovis
Sierra Pavilions Shopping Center
1195 Shaw Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612
OPEN seven days a week; year round 11a.m. to 10 p.m.
Call for more information like the flavors of the moment.
Learn more on their website and Facebook page.