Is it ever a bad time for ice cream? With perennially perfect weather here in Santa Monica, the answer is no. Hence the opening of a couple of reputable dessert shops — Sweet Rose Creamery on Pico Boulevard and Rita’s on Main Street. While both shops offer a variety of frozen confections, each has a unique spin on the treats they churn out.
Brought to you by Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb (owners of Huckleberry, Rustic Canyon and Milo & Olive) Sweet Rose Creamery’s reputation precedes itself. Their original location in the Brentwood Country Mart often sees lines out the door. Fan favorite flavor’s include salted caramel, mint chocolate chip and coffee. Put it in a cone, slather it with fudge sauce or grab a top-notch ice-cream sandwich and call it a day. Now residents south of the 10 are afforded the same great ice cream, but are spared the hike up to 26th and San Vicente.
Roles are actually reversed, making the Pico location the flagship shop, which gives co-owner/Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa (Tartine Bakery and The Slanted Door) and team some much-needed breathing room with a larger workspace and a 1,000-square-foot freezer to boot. When Nathan needed more oven space to keep up with the demand for her baked creations, Milo & Olive was conceived. Sweet Rose Creamery Pico provides Chef Yoshikawa the same luxury. With space to explore the studio, we can’t wait to see what flavors Chef Yoshikawa comes up with next.
Along with their rotating selection of Farmers’ Market-driven flavors, Sweet Rose Creamery Pico will offer a lineup of all-star snacks including frozen yogurt, Milo & Olive pastries and locally roasted coffee via Caffe Luxxe. This place is a Bay Cities Godmother away from being the Santa Monica snack shop that has it all!
Not too far from Pico is the newly opened Rita’s featuring house-made frozen lemonade, aka Italian ice. For those unaware, the texture of Italian ice is between a 7-Eleven Slurpee and your standard sorbet. It’s traditionally lemonade-based, however, other flavors are common and many times more popular than the original (mango being Rita’s top seller). Rita’s is a Philadelphia-based franchise, but its ma-and-pa feel and tiny storefront is fittingly situated alongside the other small businesses of Main Street. It’s a very popular place back east, and owners Young and Hannah Ko are betting that Santa Monicans warm up to it as well.
Having grown up in Chicago, Italian ice was a way of life on hot summer nights. Here in Southern California, not so much. In the land where frozen yogurt is king, Rita’s is a real treat and somewhat of a rare find. Santa Monica actually has two Italian ice spots, and if you find yourself on Montana Avenue head over to Di Dio’s for their blood orange variety.
But when it comes to a bigger selection of flavors, Rita’s is the top spot. Furthermore, Rita’s offers frozen soft-serve-style custard and ice cream as well. Combining the fruity Italian ice with the creamy custard makes a Gelati, Rita’s top-selling treat. Mixing that with candy (M&Ms, Snickers, etc.) yields the Blendini. The possibilities are endless. For me, a classic lemon ice takes me back to Mario’s on Taylor Street. Whether you are a transplant looking for a taste of nostalgia, or a native who wants to try something new, Rita’s is certainly worth your time.
Rita’s is currently open, but their big grand opening is Friday, Sept. 20. They are giving out free Italian ice all day, and the first 50 guests win free Ice for a year. Just bring a new children’s game donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica to qualify. That’s a pretty sweet deal!
Sweet Rose Creamery is now open to friends and family. They open their doors to everyone else Saturday, Sept. 21.
Two great additions to Santa Monica’s ever changing food scene.
If you go
Sweet Rose Creamery
826 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, Calif.
2307 Main St.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/greaseweek