Cool off with a heaping cup of this iconic Philadelphia frozen treat.
Water ice is a true Philadelphia institution. The sorbetto recipes that Italian immigrants brought to the city became something more: a treat that’s frozen — yet spoonable and slurpable — made in all the colors of the rainbow, with a name that confounds outsiders. Here’s our list of the best places to chill out with this essential summer treat.
John’s Water Ice, Bella Vista
This iconic fan favorite just off the Italian market has been making the same winning recipe — using just fruit, water, and sugar — since 1945.
John’s Water Ice Truck, various locations
And guess what: They launched a water ice truck, which will bring their classic flavors to the sweating masses all summer. Follow along on Instagram to see where they’re headed next.
D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats, East Passyunk
Owner Chris D’Emilio transitioned his motorcycle-based pop-up to a brick-and-mortar at the southern end of East Passyunk, where dessert-lovers can sample from an ever-changing menu of sorbetto and soft serve, all made in-house. Dairy lovers will enjoy his ice cream sundae creations, which come in flavors like the Pooh Bear, which comes drizzled in honey and topped with honeycomb cereal.
Mancuso & Sons, East Passyunk
While you’re grabbing a your weekly wedge of parm or ball of fresh mozzarella, get a cool cup of Mancuso’s house-made water ice in traditional flavors like lemon, chocolate, and cherry.
Jimmy’s Water Ice, Whitman
This neighborhood institution at Front & Wolf Streets serves up flavors like cappuccino and cherry vanilla in addition to snack bar eats like pizza pretzels and deep-fried Oreos.
Dati’s Water Ice & Ice Cream, Girard Estates
This Southwest Philly staple has served tons of frozen treats — ice cream, banana splits, frozen Snickers bars — for decades, but water ice is their signature, in flavors like strawberry lemonade, passionfruit, and green apple.
Morrone’s Water Ice, Overbrook
Back in the day, Morrone’s would distribute joy (in the form of frozen treats, of course) via roving trucks. Today, folks line up outside their shop on 63rd Street for gelato, water ice, and soft pretzels.
Rita’s, multiple locations
Rita’s slogan is “We sell happiness” and they’re not wrong. The Pennsylvania-based chain brings water ice and frozen custard to the whole region. As of March 1st, they’re open for the season.
Philly’s Famous Water Ices, Kensington
This spot has been around for over 50 years with a menu that ranges from straightforward cherry to sour patch kids and Reggae Rainbow. For the truly committed, they also sell gallon buckets.
Chuck’s Homemade Water Ice, South Philly
Come for the water ice, stay for the pizza pretzel’s, a staple of late of nights in South Philly. Soft pretzel nuggets are topped with melted cheese, pepperoni and tomato sauce. Pairs well with their strawberry lemonade water ice.
Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice, Cobbs Creek and Temple University
The strip of 60th Street on which Siddiq Moore’s water ice destination sits is known as Water Ice Way — but you can get his house-made water ice at the original cart on the Temple campus, too.
Dre’s Water Ice & Ice Cream, Haddington
Stop in at Andre Andrews’s pushcart-turned-brick-and-mortar at 62nd and Haverford for a cup of water ice or a pint of Southern-style ice cream in flavors like sweet potato pie.
Fred’s Water Ice, Kingsessing
Fred’s large corner stand at 53rd and Chester Avenues brings boardwalk eats to West Philly, with water ice, gelato, and other frozen goodies plus savory treats like mozzarella sticks and onion rings, too.
Rose’s Water Ice, Roxborough
Unlike some of the spots on our list, Rose’s is open year round, not just summer, with a specialty in quick breakfast fare. That means you can score a pork roll, egg and cheese with a cup of the cold stuff to chase it on a steamy July morning.
Tranzilli Real Italian Water Ice, East Germantown
Nobile and Olimpia Tranzilli opened their shop in 1969, and today, the family-owned Tranzilli’s still uses their recipes to make water ice in flavors like creamsicle and kiwi-strawberry.
Diane’s Italian Water Ices, Voorhees
Diane’s is located in a humble strip mall, but its quality product and unique flavors like chocolate brownie chunk make it a local institution. Get your water ice on its own or gelati-style, swirled with rich custard and garnished with an animal cracker.
Famous Italian Ices, East Kensington
Since 1965, this Lehigh Avenue water icery has cranked out wholesale buckets and cups for cold-seeking customers in 50-odd flavors, including Swedish Fish, Sour Patch mango, and salted caramel.
Joseppi’s Water Ice, Olney
At 18th and Stenton Streets, score cups of Joseppi’s frozen goodness in flavors heavy on the tropical, like coconut, banana, and pineapple.
Pop’s Homemade Water Ice, South Philly and Havertown
This cash-only Best of Philly winner, with locations on Oregon Avenue and in the ‘burbs, might be one of the oldest in the city — they’ve been serving up scoops since 1932.
Buddy’s Water Ice, Norristown
On Norristown’s Main Street, Buddy’s serves gelato and water ice in flavors like root beer, vanilla, and blue raspberry.
Petrucci’s Ice Cream & Water Ice, King of Prussia and Phoenixville
Get your frozen treat fix at not one but two Petrucci’s locations, serving water ice in chocolate chocolate chip, cotton candy, and Bada Bing Cherry.
Yardley Ice House, Yardley
A three-year Best of Philly winner, Yardley Ice House goes all-out with unique flavors: where else can you find the region’s favorite frozen treat in green tea, cherry Bordeaux, or coconut cream egg?