My neighborhood has never been more popular than this time of the year. To my dismay, it’s not because everyone is coming to hang out with me. In reality, it has everything to do with my delicious neighbor Ralph’s Italian Ice, with its only Manhattan location just a block from my apartment. As it is only open four months of the year, there’s no wonder it’s the most popular spot on the block.

Ralph’s Italian Ice was founded by Ralph Silvestro, an Italian immigrant, back in 1928. The most popular store location is the original in Staten Island, but there are a total of 78 stores in the North East area. Known for its long wait time, especially in the summer, Ralph’s makes any wait worth your time with over 100 delicious and unique flavors and combinations to choose from. In addition to ices, they offer smoothies, shakes, and caffeinated beverages, such as the Ralphaccino and the Vanilla Chai Tea.

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As I just moved here a year ago, I had to do my homework on the history of this New York summer obsession. Back in Staten Island, the original store only offered a few flavors. Many New Yorkers have fond memories of getting Ralph’s Italian Ices as children and feel much nostalgia for the sweet treat. “Just like when I was a kid!” exclaiming as they’re served their ices.

The location I visited, located on 24th just off Lexington, is a cute bright blue stand that can’t be missed, as it’s likely to have a long line of hungry customers anxiously waiting. Luckily I came on the rare occasion when the line was nonexistent. I actually wish there had been a line, because I was totally unprepared when it was my turn to order. With over a 100 options, my mind was overwhelmed. I chose two to sample, because all you can sample are two. I tried the Graham Cracker(one of the most popular amongst my friends) and the Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel. I loved them both, but since I can never make up my mind I just went with two of their sugar free options, mint chip and vanilla chip, topped with rainbow sprinkles. I enjoyed every last bite. Other favorite flavors include Black Raspberry, Blue Hawaii, Mai Tai, Rainbow Cookie, and Mint Cookie Crumb. And for a reasonable price($3.50 for a small cup) and a generous portion, you really cannot go wrong.

Simply put, Ralph’s Italian Ice NYC is a New York City institution. There’s no place else to go when you need instant refreshment. Get it while you can people of Manhattan, because soon enough Fall is coming and Ralph’s doors will be closing.

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