The Little White Van: Italian ice business goes back generations in Saratoga Springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS Possibly the only 1954 International Step Van still making its way down city streets, Grasso’s Italian Ice truck is a true Saratoga tradition.
With a family recipe that dates back four generations, the demand for Grasso’s Italian Ice has been steady with the ages.
It wasn’t until two years ago, however, that Ralph Grasso, the third generation Ralph in his family of Italian ice experts, picked up the business from his aging father. And much to the community’s excitement, the “traveling little white truck” was traveling once more.
Grasso’s grandfather began toying with the recipe for their Italian ice in 1930, squeezing lemons and oranges by hand for each batch.
The business still makes its own desserts, mixing up a new batch of ices every day in their half-century-old shop in Saratoga Springs. But the only way to get your hands on the Saratoga classic is to track down the truck.
Thanks to Facebook, Grasso and his daughter, Sophia, are able to update customers on their whereabouts and ask where to head next, and it’s no surprise they often get odd requests.
“A lot of people who grew up in the area and have moved away have found our Facebook, and we get requests to head out to places like Nashville or Seattle,” Grasso said.
The impact of the little white van on the Saratoga community spans decades. Grasso fondly remembers sharing the truck with his father during breaks from college and of summers spent as a youngster riding along with his grandfather. And customers remember them, too.
“There was one guy last week who came up to the window and told me, ‘I’m 75 years old and I remember seeing this truck as a kid.’ So, yeah, we’ve been around,” Grasso said.
This summer, Grasso’s Italian Ice will be sold during meets at the Saratoga Race Course and a slew of carts will be added to the single-truck fleet, opening up opportunities for the business to attend more of the community events that matter so much to them and their customers.