Let's face it: Philly in the summer is about as comfortable as a Tijuana jail cell. While temps aren't quite there yet, the current wave of warmth indicates hazy, hot, and humid days are on the tip of Cecily Tynan's tongue. Fortunately, nothing beats the sweaty stick of summer like water ice. Rita's might be the easiest to find, but their guerrilla-like expansion makes us leery. Soon, NASCAR fans will be slurping waaah-ter ahh-ce in Wichita. With spoons! We shudder at the thought. There are other water ice stands superior in flavor, texture, and uncompromising Philly-ness. Our three favorites can be found down in SoPhi, natch. You might not expect it from a cheese shop, but Mancuso's at the mouth of East Passyunk serves the awesome ice beneath meaty wind chimes of salami and sopresatta. The shop is dark and narrow and the deli perfume heady (9th Street DiBruno's is glamorous in comparison), but the lemon water ice is tart, frosty, and peel-punctuated, and the experience is so South Philly old-school customers still ask for 'lemonade.' Closer to the stadiums, Italiano's is another reliable vendor. The angle parking fronting their Shunk Street sidewalk is a bitch, and their hours are questionable (it seems they're only open for two weeks each summer), but the reward is a wetter ice spiked with creative flavors like amaretto and iced tea. John's has been scooping lemon, chocolate, cherry, and pineapple from its redbrick Bella Vista storefront since 1945. Here, after-school students and NOFSOP mommies with strollers line up at the counter for the smooth slush studded with big chunks of fruit. We're distressed that AOL City Guide has them listed as CLOSED without further explanation. John's phone number is also disconnected. We're going on a recon mission right now. Be back with a full report.
Photo: AOL City Guide