Licks of the Tropics

By KELLY FEENEY JULY 9, 2010

 

Torico in Jersey City started as a simple delicatessen but soon became a hot spot for ice cream when one of the owners developed a craving for it.

“When I got pregnant with our first daughter, I wanted the tropical flavors of the ice cream I remembered,” said Pura Berrios, 62, who, like her husband, Peter, 66, is from Puerto Rico. He bought the shop in 1968, and the couple married in 1970.

The ice cream Mrs. Berrios remembered wasn’t readily available, she said, so her husband got an ice cream machine and started to make it for her.

Then he started to sell it at the shop, and soon customers clamored for it.

The hand-cranked ice cream “became so popular the lines were out the door,” Mrs. Berrios said. The couple then decided to focus exclusively on ice cream, first calling the shop Tropical Delight. They later changed the name to Torico, a slangy contraction of “todo rico,” which translates as “everything is delicious” — or, as Mrs. Berrios likes to say, “it’s all good.”

Though he no longer uses that machine, Mr. Berrios still makes the shop’s rich ice cream, which comes in more than 65 flavors, including banana, pistachio, rum raisin and avocado. The owners use only real fruit and other premium ingredients and shun powdered mixes.

“You’ll see buckets of blueberries marinating,” said Mrs. Berrios, who supervises the front of the shop. The couple’s four grown daughters also help at the business, which has a few tables and a homey, no-frills décor.

Torico also serves Asian-inspired flavors, like green tea, litchi and ube (purple yam), along with Italian ices and sorbets.

“The community is Asian, Filipino, Spanish,” Mrs. Berrios said. “We have flavors for everyone’s taste buds.”