More of Our Favorite Water Ice Stands

By Tara Moore
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Jun. 30, 2009

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Philly Flavors offers some of the best water ice in town, Tara Moore says.

Photo by Tara Moore

In last week's PW, Tim McGinnis offered PW's official guide to the city's best water ice. PW intern Tara Moore offers her own list:

Sometimes, the generic (no offense) selection of water ice from Rita’s and simple “custards” just isn’t enough to satisfy our taste buds. So I say, what about the little guy? The places offer flavors even little ol’ Rita’s couldn’t offer.

No. 1: Philly Flavors

2004 Fairmount Ave.

Overwhelming may be an understatement, but satisfaction guaranteed. Philly Flavors has over 30 water ice flavors and just about 15 hand-dipped ice cream flavors to choose from, all made on premises. If you’re really not sure what you’re in the mood for, you can’t go wrong with just choosing your favorite fruit flavor or even copping out and getting an ice cream cookie sandwich made with their homemade cookies! Also, keep in mind some of the better flavors here are made with real fruits, and not just artificial syrups.

“It could be cherry (made with real fruit, not maraschino), mango, strawberry lemonade, black raspberry and red raspberry,” said Brian Gutierrez, manager of the establishment. “I must eat a gallon a day myself!”

Flavor tip: Even if you’re not the banana split type, it wouldn’t hurt to sample their banana split water ice made with real bananas, walnuts, strawberries, pineapple, and chocolate syrup mixed with vanilla water ice.

No. 2: Pop’s Homemade Water Ice

150 W. Eagle Road, Havertown.

Okay, this one’s a little further out -- Delaware County to be exact -- but it’s worth the trip. Pop’s Homemade Water Ice has a smaller selection, but the available flavors are decent. Their best selling water ice is usually mango, which is a syrup-based flavor (all of their flavors are syrup-based). It’s here that I was introduced to the pretzel rod as a dipper, something that seems bizarre to me but is apparently normal for Philly natives. Anyway, if possible try to avoid this place Sundays,  because the drive alone will be aggravating -- and the lines will only add to that.

“I think Sunday nights are the busiest,” said Karen Pernaci, owner of Pop’s. “It’s the end of the weekend before you go back to school or work, so you give yourself a treat.”

Pop’s also serves gelati, which is water ice on the bottom, ice cream next, water ice again, and then ice cream on the top. Hand-dipped and soft serve ice cream flavors are also available here.

Flavor tip: This summer they’re introducing iced-tea-flavored water ice. I find it the perfect taste for the sophisticated pallet. And margarita is nice if you want the artificial liquor kick in your water ice.

No. 3: John’s Water Ice

701 Christian Street

John’s Water Ice also believes strongly in the pretzel rod as a spoon.

“People always do it, and I’ve been here for 20 years!” said Anthony Cardullo, manager of John’s Water Ice.

Top sellers at John’s include lemon and cherry, a surprise considering most places so far haven’t mentioned lemon at all. John’s serves water ice and ice cream but water ice seems to be the bigger seller. Their water ice is made from natural flavors, and the lemon has a complimenting blend of sweet and tangy all in one.

John’s has been around since 1945, a family business in the area. Cardullo, 20 years in, suggested that Sundays all day are busy because there are a lot of people around in the Italian Market, so you might want to try another night.

Flavor tip: Go for the cherry or lemon. Traditional flavors are always better at traditional places.

No. 4: Morrone’s

Corner of 63rd and Race streets, Overbrook.

Morrone’s, a staple of West Philadelphia, has a lot to offer. From water ice and sundaes, shakes, cones, banana splits to savory pretzels and hotdogs, Morrone’s brings food and dessert together at this quick stop corner window. The only location in Philadelphia, Morrone’s carries a flavor called “chango,” which is just cherry and mango served in one cup but two separate flavors. Any weekend night, from Friday to Sunday, will be the busy nights, according to Steve Caporaletti, manager of Marrone’s and son of many generations.

“Since 1925 it’s been my grandfather, dad, it just goes down the line,” Caporaletti explained about his connection to the establishment.

Flavor tip: If you like more sweet than flavor, Morrone’s has the sugar rush and brain freeze that you need, all in one.

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Catherine said... on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:25PM

“Pop's and Rita's rule.. End of story...;)”

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2. Tara said... on Jun 30, 2009 at 04:27PM

“Have you been to Philly Flavors?? It speaks for itself.”

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3. Steve said... on May 5, 2010 at 10:34PM

“what happened to the original owner john morrone? and i thought they had other locations/franchise stores? what happened to them and where can i find them?”

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4. Lisa said... on Aug 14, 2010 at 11:31PM

“where is jim marrone water ice? HERES JIM, truck in Roxborough 1970s and 80's, best "cherryvanilla" and tutti frutti ever. Haven't been able to find since.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Aug 25, 2010 at 07:05PM

“If you're looking for the best homemade water ice- one name: DIOGUARDI. who was also was rewarded with "Best of Philly" in '85 and still made the same way, if not better!”

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6. Mayor said... on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:08AM

“To the first comment (Catherine): By comparison to homemade water ice, Pop's and Rita's are equivalent to fast food burger joints rather than a prime rib steak. You clearly haven't experienced the difference.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Apr 5, 2014 at 10:43PM

“Morrone's closed – it was that good.”


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