Welcoming Rita’s to Northern California

This Thursday starts the first day of Spring, but it sure felt like a beautiful warm Spring day today. My friend and I began the day with a 10 mile hike around Lake Chabot Regional Park. After burning hundreds of calories, we definitely deserved a special treat. My friend suggested a place called Rita’s in Castro Valley for something cold and refreshing.

Rita’s is a chain originating on the East Coast that was founded in 1984 by a former Philadelphia firefighter. Living in the Bay Area you would not know that there are over 500 locations in the United States. At this time, the location in Downtown Castro Valley is the only shop in all of Northern California. I will not be surprised if Rita’s follows the success of businesses like “In-N-Out” or “Krispy Kreme.”

So you are asking “What is Rita’s?” Rita’s sells a variety of fresh Italian ice and frozen custard. The Italian ice is unique at Rita’s because there are actual chunks of fruit in the ice. Frozen custard is a form of ice cream popular in the Midwest and the East Coast, so it’s great to have a Bay Area location to serve it.
I walked into Rita’s not sure what to order. Italian ice? Frozen custard? I decided on the Gelati which is a mixture of both ice and custard. I chose wild black cherry ice with a top and bottom layer of vanilla custard. My friend got the watermelon ice and vanilla custard Gelati. Today they had Swedish fish as a flavor. I assume there were pieces of my favorite gummy candy in it.
The Gelati was amazing. The creaminess of the custard and the slushy ice was the perfect blend in consistency and flavor. The fruit in the ice added a third texture that I appreciated. On a warm day, this treat was refreshing and hit the spot after a day of hiking.

Spring officially starts this Thursday which may be the perfect day to give Rita’s a try as they are giving out free Italian ice.