1717 Murray Ave. (Squirrel Hill)
3533 Forbes Ave. and 300 S. Craig St. (Oakland)
Razzy Fresh's Craig Street location looks like an exclusive gym for fruit. It's bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows, big photographs of strawberries being doused in crystal water along one wall, and peppy dance music. But no, this is not where pineapples come to work their glutes: It's Pittsburgh's answer to the frozen-yogurt craze.
Founded by James Chen, Razzy Fresh opened its first store, on Squirrel Hill's Murray Avenue, in 2010. It now has two additional locations in Oakland. In each of the stores, customers help themselves to one of several flavors of frozen yogurt, cover it with toppings of their choice, and pay 45 cents per ounce for their dessert creations. A healthy helping with plenty of toppings works out to about $3 or $4.
Even though Razzy Fresh is self-serve, Nelson Fu, an employee at the Craig Street store, stays busy slicing kiwis, ringing up customers and tipping buckets of fro-yo into the dispensing machines. The store's busiest hours are at night, when students have finished their classes. But even during the day, some of them make time to grab a quick bite. Siddarth Subramanian and Tharanga Gamaethige, two students in CMU's Software Engineering program, often take the short walk over from their building for a mid-day snack.
Today both are enjoying fruit-topped yogurt, which Gamaethige says is the only way to go. Subramanian, who claims to have tried every flavor of yogurt in the store, disagrees.
"Come on: variety, man. Every time you come in [you take] the same flavor," he chides his friend. Gamaethige concedes, "That's a good idea. Next time I might try something else."
There's no shortage of options to choose from. In addition to kiwi, mango, pomegranate and other fruits, patrons have their choice of crumbled candy bars, cheesecake bites, cookie dough, Cap'n Crunch cereal, peanut-butter sauce and a host of other toppings. There's also a tub of bite-sized mochi: sweet, squishy cubes made from glutinous rice that are often paired with ice cream in Japanese cuisine. But you can't get to any of that until after you've made your choice of yogurt — sweet flavors like cake batter and pumpkin cheesecake, or tart ones like mango and taro.
Though students make up the bulk of the Oakland clientele, they aren't the only ones drawn to Razzy Fresh. Elise Moersch, director of International Advancement at the University of Pittsburgh, stopped in recently for a working lunch. "They're very friendly, very clean," she says. "They have a lot of good choices ... fresh fruit and nuts — perfect for a light lunch."
While it's not exactly salad-healthy, Razzy Fresh's low-fat frozen yogurt does have active yogurt cultures and is a conscientious choice at about 120 calories per half-cup serving (slightly less for the fat-free flavors). But that assumes, of course, that you can get yourself to stop at half a cup.