Beat the Heat With Izzie's Ice

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In case you hadn't noticed, it tends to be a tad warm in Middle Tennessee this time of year. On those midsummer days when your air conditioner is wheezing like a tuberculosis sufferer after a night at The Villager, and you'd rather sit through dinner with gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux than mow the lawn or do errands, there's no better destination than Izzie's Ice in East Nashville.

A bright orange trailer located at the corner of Rosebank Avenue and Riverside Drive in East Nashville, Izzie's serves up delicious Italian ice (as I can attest from two visits on Sunday alone), made from all natural ingredients — no preservatives, no dyes, no artificial anything. All the flavors are derived from real fruit (with the exception of the cherry ice — but that contains high-quality natural cherry juice).

Sisters Elizabeth Gammans and Alice Carpenter are the hearty souls who brave the heat to keep you cool. With just a small fan to provide relief, a stoic Gammans refused to betray even the slightest hint of discomfort on a 97-degree afternoon. "It's not too bad, actually," she says. "Of course, when this [ice] machine is running, it's a little warm." And to keep customers cool while they slurp up their ice, there's an awning on the backside of the cart. The sisters even bought a small water mister that they can hook up to a hose to provide a salutary sprinkle.

Izzies Ice co-owner Elizabeth Gammans, unfazed by the heat
  • Izzie's Ice co-owner Elizabeth Gammans, unfazed by the heat
The offerings vary daily depending on what looks good at the market, but flavors include raspberry, orange, kiwi, mango, strawberry, watermelon and combinations thereof. For folks accustomed to faux flavors, the orange in particular can be a frosty revelation, and it works especially well blended with other fruits. The strawberry-orange was just the trick to take the edge of last weekend's nearly triple-digit temperatures. And the classic Italian ice flavor, lemon, is delightfully refreshing — with visible bits of lemon zest that impart a tart counterbalance to the sweetness — and always available. Izzie’s sometimes offers a vegan chocolate-coconut ice cream, with coconut milk replacing the milk.

Though Izzie’s Ice opened just last month, the seeds of the business were planted decades ago when the sisters were growing up in Oyster Bay, N.Y., on Long Island. "There was an old Italian man, he must have been 90 years old," Gammans recalls. "He had been at the corner since 1901, selling Italian ice. By the time I was a little girl, he was ancient, and he was still selling the Italian ice, which we loved." The man was Chick Bonanza, and the Bonanza Stand, as it's known, is still in the same location, run by Chick's grandson Philip and great-grandson Philip Jr.

Izzie's is a welcome sight at the corner of Rosebank and Riverside, and not just for their ice. It's the former location of the sorely missed barbecue joint Dee's Q, which closed not long after the death of beloved pitmaster and family patriarch Reggie Crowder — and though you won't find pulled pork or smoky brisket at Izzie's, it's heartening to see another local family enterprise take root on the site.

One other great reason to try Izzie's, particularly for families: A small (roughly 5 ounce) serving is $2, a large (roughly 8 oz.) serving is $3. And in an era when a trip to the frozen yogurt shop can run you $7 or $8 a kid by the time they load on the toppings, Izzie's is a steal.

So why call it Izzie's? Gammans explains that Lizzie's — for her nickname — was being considered, but since her sister was an equal partner, it didn't feel right. A friend suggested Izzie's, and the name stuck.

Izzie's is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. There's also a smaller, mobile Izzie's Ice cart that will pop up at locations around town, and it's available for parties. For information, email izzie@izziesice.com. Izzie's Ice will stay open through October, possibly longer, depending on the weather.

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