Simkin: The innumerable delights of fro-yo

By Sarah Simkin

I came to Pittsburgh a frozen-yogurt novice, only dimly aware of the existence of the supposedly… I came to Pittsburgh a frozen-yogurt novice, only dimly aware of the existence of the supposedly healthier alternative to ice cream. Blessed or burdened with two Californian roommates, however, I did not remain uninitiated for long.

When Sweet Berry opened on Meyran Avenue, cries of homesickness and squeals of joy echoed throughout my dorm room. It was demanded that I try this frozen concoction immediately, despite the chilly weather, papers to write and other valid excuses.

At first I was unimpressed. Although the frozen yogurt itself was good — slightly tarter than ice cream — the pricing seemed exorbitant for the serving sizes, unexciting flavors and limited number of toppings.

Everything changed, however, when I discovered Razzy Fresh in Squirrel Hill, a frozen-yogurt vendor that addresses each of my complaints with aplomb.

At Razzy Fresh, a cornucopia of different flavors is offered daily. We aren’t talking just chocolate, vanilla and strawberry here — on any given day you might find cookies and cream, raspberry, taro, red velvet cake, passion fruit or peanut butter. That alone would be delightful, but as you continue on your self-service odyssey down the production line, you will encounter the toppings bar.

There is something deeply wrong with you if the toppings bar does not fill you with childish delight. It features a wide variety of fresh fruit, crushed candy bars, syrups and everything else you could ever want to put on a frozen dessert, within reason.

Furthermore, Razzy Fresh charges by weight — roughly 40 cents an ounce — meaning you can have as much or as little frozen yogurt and toppings as you like — provided you have a rudimentary level of skill with working the serving levers and don’t dramatically overdo it.

As with nearly all things, however, the mantra of “Spiderman” applies: Be mindful of the great responsibility that comes with the power to design your own dessert.

For innovation’s sake, feel free to be creative with your concoctions — imagine if we had to live in a world devoid of those brave, enterprising souls who brought us peanut butter and chocolate. This is an ideal opportunity to find out what kumquat or red bean taste like — respectively, sort of citrusy and sweeter than you might think.

But I offer you this cautionary tale: At one point I had the notion that I could keep each flavor corralled in a different section of the cup. I was woefully, epically wrong. Pumpkin, green tea, lychee and taro might well have been delightful on their own, but combined …  well, you can imagine. No heaping of crushed heath bar or diced kiwi was going to fix that once it started to melt together.

Though it’s hard to classify something covered in cheesecake bites as health food, frozen yogurt is in fact lower in fat than ice cream since it’s made from milk instead of cream. It’s a good source of calcium and protein, and the live cultures and bacteria are widely touted as being excellent for digestive health. There’s no accounting for whatever toppings you laden it with, but the frozen yogurt itself is arguably amongst the most diet-conscious dessert options.

Now Razzy Fresh has come to Oakland with a location on Craig Street — where Maggie Moo’s used to be — and another soon opening on Forbes Avenue at the former Kiva Han. If getting kitted out in full winter gear and trekking through frosty weather for a frozen dessert doesn’t make sense to you, you clearly haven’t tried Razzy Fresh yet.