PILSEN — During her travels abroad, Army veteran Eva Hernandez fell in love with the local gelato she sampled in Korea.
She dreamt of one day opening a Korean-style gelato shop in the U.S. — a family-friendly spot that could be a gathering place for the community — when she left the Army. But ultimately, Italian ice won out, when she opened Pilsen Italian Ice at 1165 W. 18th St. in June.
The sweets shop serves six different flavors of non-dairy, organic Italian ice — lemon, mango, watermelon, blue raspberry, piña colada and chocolate — in a coconut shell.
For those looking for something more savory, Hernandez serves four versions of elotes like “The Pilsen,” flame-roasted corn on the cob slathered with mayo, cheese, butter and chili powder.
There’s also “El Diablito” with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the “Plain Jane” with sea salt and lime and “The Unicorn” with crushed fruit loops.
Hernandez, a 31-year-old South Chicago native who now lives in Marshall Square, has fond childhood memories of driving to ice cream parlors with her family every summer.
“I like to see people happy. I like to see the community together,” Hernandez said.
John Baez, 50, of suburban Plainfield, was driving by last month, noticed the sign and decided to stop in.
We have been trying Italian ice shops around the city and this is one of the best,” Baez said. “It’s amazing and tastes fresh.”
While winning high praise from customers like Baez, the new shop also caught the attention of Chicago actor and comedian Hannibal Buress, who paid a visit earlier this month.
Pilsen Italian Ice is open daily from noon-10 p.m.
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