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Tap Into Chicago’s Italian Ice Reservoir

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Jul 3, 2012 4:05PM

Photo by D. Majette.
Italians are a famously hot-blooded race, so it’s little surprise that they’re experts in self-cooling. Hence the proliferation of gelato and its simpler country cousin, Italian ice. This nondairy dessert’s lack of bells and whistles and monomania for ice is exactly what makes it an ideal coolant on sultry summer days. Fortunately Chicago has its share of neighborhood suppliers, where sun-baked crowds gather under colored awnings, spooning themselves the most deliciously Arctic of warm-weather treats. Here’s a refreshing sampling.

Miko’s Italian Ice: This Bucktown haunt peeks out at Damen Ave. from just below street level, welcoming visitors onto its tree-shaded porch and encouraging you to double up. Combine two flavors, choosing from a fruity litany of everything from honeydew to blackberry, for the price of one. 1846 N. Damen

Anthony’s Homemade Italian Ice
: A local legend in the annals of Chi-town Italian Ice, Anthony’s all-natural creations really are homemade in the back of his bright and welcoming Southport shop, which also serves basic street fare if you’re hungry for more than just dessert. 3442 North Southport Avenue

Tom and Wendee’s Homemade Italian Ice: Whether you’re feeling like slathering your taste buds in an icy cappuccino crunch, a chocolate toffee, or an old-reliable citrus blast, Tom and Wendee have you and all your cravings covered in this inviting Armitage Avenue institution. 1136 West Armitage Avenue

Mario’s Italian Lemonade: In Chicago’s most Italian neighborhood, Mario is making advances on the Italian ice of his grandparents. The chilled lemonade acts as a base for layers of fruit sauce and generous toppings of fresh fruit. Chicago Italians line up around the block for Mario’s signature spin on this old-world classic. 1066 W. Taylor Street