In 1984, Bob and Elizabeth Tumolo, a Philadelphia mother-son team, opened the first Rita’s Italian Ice, a modest shop that sold cups of ice water blended with chunks of fresh fruit. The smooth, flavor-packed recipe, which dates back to ancient Rome and Greece, was an immediate hit with Philadelphians and classics professors. By 1987, the Tumolos owned four shops, and by 2007, 500 locations served icy treats across the country.
Today, Rita’s Italian Ice continues blending fresh batches of Italian ice daily. Flavors ranging from tangy lemonade to sweet mango rotate based on the whims and cravings of the friendly staff. The expanded menu also serves thick frozen custard as well as the popular gelati, distinctive blends of Italian ice and creamy custard.
College is a place that often kindles lasting friendships, as well as lasting eating habits based on haphazard diets of chips and day-old pizza. Chris Sanchez and Patrick Ortiz, proprietors of Simply Fit Meals, have managed to buck the latter part of this trend. The friendship they forged at the University of Houston continued after graduation, even as Patrick pursued a career in hotel management and Chris entered the world of marketing, eventually serving as store marketing director for Whole Foods. Their shared passion for healthy eating brought their disparate career paths together to form Simply Fit Meals, an amalgamation of Patrick's chef skills and Chris's marketing prowess.
The challenge behind each one of Simply Fit Meals' recipes involves finding an equal balance between nutrition and flavor so that clients can stick to a regimen that's easy to maintain, unlike fad diets that involve raw foods consumed only in prime-numbered portions. The science of it, says Chris, is making it taste as if it's been freshly made, even after reheating, and to this end, Chris and Patrick are both avid consumers of their own meals. Chris claims he could eat—and has eaten—their mac 'n' cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The culinary team uses locally raised, free-range meats such as chicken and bison in virtually all of their creations, and concocts fresh-made ingredients whenever possible. The in-house dietitian guides clients toward their own fitness goals, as opposed to those dictated by fashion magazines or sentient elevators, who often lack tact.
The city of Austin is known for its cool factor, but in summer, things are hot. So it's no mystery why people love Red Mango Frozen Yogurt: whether it's their namesake dessert, smoothies, parfaits or frozen coffee drinks, Red Mango’s treats not only satiate the sweet tooth but, if handled correctly, can aid in a healthy lifestyle. The bright red and white ultra-modern interior of Red Mango's West Campus location brings a hip, contemporary self-serve approach to fro-yo, letting patrons build exactly the treat that sounds best to them. Their yogurt is all-natural, nonfat or low fat, certified gluten-free and is filled with calcium, protein and Super Biotics: patented probiotic cultures designed to aid the immune and digestive systems. Yes, you can load up on sugary after-effects to cancel out the goodness, but Red Mango also supplies granola and fresh fruit.
The drumroll of corn being popped or devoured constantly resounds through air scented with butter, cinnamon, caramel, and curry at Cornucopia Popcorn Creations. The crew embellishes popcorn with more than 30 unique flavors, which are divided into four basic categories: candied, chocolate, seasoned, and vegan. The list includes everything from basic butter or cheese popcorn to snacks reminiscent of Red Hots or s?mores as well as dill-pickle popcorn that the Austin Chronicle called ?amazing.? Like the spark plugs of your rival?s car, the creative munchies can be packed into decorative bags and tins to make an ideal gift.
In February 2014, Cornucopia Popcorn Creations moved from The Drag to new Hyde Park digs, where visitors can take advantage of ample parking as they drop in to sample ever-changing seasonal flavors.
In Italy, a "sagra" is a festival where a community comes together in celebration of a local ingredient or dish—a tradition that fits Gabriel Pellegrini's enoteca and trattoria in both spirit and practice. Classic, bistro-style Italian cuisine joins local, Texan ingredients and flavors to create an entire menu worthy of commemoration. But that isn't to say all the ingredients are local. Imported Mediterranean cheeses and cured meats join house-made mozzarella atop hand-stretched neapolitan pizzas before bubbling gold in a wood-burning stove.
Such dedication to craft and quality carries over into the bar. Shelves brim with liqueurs, grappas, and wines imported from Italy, but the bartenders grow their own herbs, make their own bitters, and infuse syrups and spirits in-house for cocktails that are inimitable in freshness and flavor.
Located in the heart of Austin, the building's custard-yellow and sunset-orange walls complement the warm earth tones of well-trodden floorboards. Black banquettes and chairs surround white linen-draped tables. During the day, natural light streams in through the windows, but at night the soft glow of flickering wall sconces and pendant lamps suffuses the dining area—a suitable atmosphere for a romantic evening or shadow-puppet reenactment of the Battle of Philippi.