Rita’s of Fresno opened Tuesday selling Italian ice and frozen custard.
The new shop at 1102 E. Champlain Drive, next to Five Restaurant at Perrin Avenue, is the first Fresno location of the dessert shop. It has a location in Clovis and more than 700 locations overall, mostly on the East Coast.
Since Rita’s is a bit of an East Coast thing, an explanation of what it sells is in order.
Italian ice is a combination of water and fresh fruit or flavored syrups that are churned like ice cream to create an icy treat that’s smoother and thicker than shaved ice. It comes in 12 flavors, such as Swedish Fish, cotton candy and tangerine.
Rita’s also sells frozen custard that is similar to soft-serve ice cream from a machine, but it has an egg base, which makes it richer and creamier.
Customers who want both can get a gelati, layers of Italian ice and frozen custard in one cup.
New to Rita’s on the West Coast is hand-scooped frozen custard, similar to ice cream in that it’s spooned into bowls, but has the creaminess of custard, says Fresno franchise owner Eric Sha.
Unlike Rita’s on the East Coast, this location doesn’t close for the wintertime.
Expect to see more Rita’s opening in the Valley, including at 5221 W. Walnut Ave. in Visalia and another in a new building under construction at Manchester Center. The Rita’s there will be between a Chipotle and Habit Burger and is scheduled to open at the end of summer. Another is slated for northeast Fresno.