Rio Ice Cream. Jaffna’s famous ice cream parlour, with a truck on Marine Drive, also has a large shiny store in Negombo.
Rio holds a kitschy sort of place in Colombo hearts. With an abundance of excellent ice cream options in the city – Il Gelato, Carino’s, Baskin Robbins – Rio’s truckload of synthetically sweetened scoops is unlikely to be your first choice. However, there’s just something about Rio that everyone loves and our loyal endearment towards that cool centre of respite in the burning Jaffna heat has carried over to its Wellawatte and Negombo outlets.
In Negombo, where you have less ice creamy options (although an Il Gelato is opening up soon), Rio stands as a pleasure dome filled with cool, brightly coloured confections. After a long day on the beach, the gaudily decorated shop with its bauble-adorned ceiling and lurid lights can be surprisingly welcome. Generous, creamy scoops of sweet vanilla, drizzled with a sticky strawberry sauce lie in an icy refrigerator alongside dazzlingly violet globes of blueberry. There’s a bright, poppy vibe to Rio’s and its wares. The colours, bright and synthetic, pack that saccharine kick of sugar you’d expect – but again, it’s surprisingly not unpleasant. While this isn’t the kind of ice cream you should be eating often, it’s a fun hit of sugar and childhood fairground memories packed into a stout sundae glass.
We like Rio’s. There’s something charming and kitschy about the place, and you should definitely stop by if you’re in Negombo. While the ice cream won’t have the artisinal flair of Il Gelato or Carino’s, it’s cheerful, feel good stuff. Well, until after you’ve eaten it.