Flavor Brigade: Philly Italian Water Ices and Frozen Custard in Oakland

Categories: Palmer, Sweet Beat

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Tamara Palmer
Sour apple water ice.
Flavor Brigade's Braedon Galloway was stunned to see a non-neighborhood customer waltz in last week, even more so when we told him we'd come to Oakland's Dimond District specifically to see his frozen dessert shop. Open since January, Flavor Brigade has flown under the radar of pretty much everyone.

The shop offers Philadelphia-style Italian water ice, frozen custard, and ice cream. Water ice is different from snow cones or shaved ice ― it isn't simply syrup poured over ice, but a frozen confection made with fruit purees or concentrated syrups. We lingered over a sour apple water ice, heftier and far more flavorful than the average sorbet. We didn't particularly miss the cream but were saddened that Galloway's frozen custard machine was on the fritz.

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Tamara Palmer
​Galloway, who ran a water-ice business back in Philly, hopes to eventually expand his business into even hotter inland cities like Danville and Walnut Creek. He also wants to sell his water ices to restaurants.

"In Philadelphia, you see water ice at every pizza place," he says. (Trend alert: In South Berkeley, the owner of Sweet Adeline Bakeshop and one of the partners in Oakland's Dona Tomas are teaming up for a pizza-and-frozen-custard place called Addie's Pizza Pie.) And since he's got a good hookup for flavor bases from the distributor, and actually makes his own water ice, he can offer it for a sweet price. The small size (pictured above) goes for $1.99, with a daily 99-cent featured flavor. Regulars from the neighborhood come in every single day for that special, Galloway says.

Flavor Brigade: 3540 Fruitvale (at MacArthur), Oakland.

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