In the age of outlandish froyo toppings and artificial flavors, it’s time to get back to basics. Fortunately, a new kind of frozen dessert store will take root in Miami Beach this October, and it’s bringing back the homemade touch that the sweet treat scene has been missing.
Jodi’s Italian Ice is as authentic as a family business can get — with a heartwarming story to match. It all began in the ‘80s, when Jodi and Brian Tillman met at Northwestern University in Chicago. To satisfy her beau’s cravings for the sweet, frozen dessert known as “water ice” in Brian’s hometown of Philadelphia, Jodi began concocting her own version in her college dorm. By the time Brian and Jodi married and had four kids, the homemade Italian ice was a family staple.
Jodi went from a public school teacher selling her creations at fundraisers to opening up her first storefront in Indiana in 2013. Now Jodi’s Italian Ice has three locations in northwest Indiana, and Miami is lucky enough to be the next destination on the list.
Managing the new location will be son Jesse Tillman, armed with his mother’s secret recipe book and strict instructions to stay true to the originals.
Jodi's Italian Ice features unusual flavors like Sour Patch Kids, Wild Berry Skittles, and horchata.
Courtesy of Jodi's Italian Ice
“We always grew up with it, so we were right there with her making it,” Tillman said. “Once she makes a certain flavor a certain way, she wants to keep the flavor and the brand the same, so that was her biggest guideline.”
As this small family business makes the move to a big city, connecting with customers and listening to requests is essential. It’s that kind of responsiveness that led to some of Jodi’s most memorable flavors, like Sour Patch Kids, Wild Berry Skittles and horchata.
The storefront, located at 1220 Normandy Dr., will open by late October. Although there is not yet an official opening date, Jodi’s will be offering free medium Italian ices for all first-day customers. Feel free to navigate the menu on your own, but if you want some expert advice, just ask the man who’s grown up with the stuff.
“My favorite flavor is, beyond a doubt, Swedish Fish,” Tillman said.