Sydney's ice-cream scene has come a long way since the days of a boysenberry swirl cup from a Peter's tub at the local milk bar. By 2020, we've progressed to all-vegan options, taken pride in scoops that use only fresh and local ingredients, embraced flavours and styles from all over the world, experimented with lab-style creations, and will eat pretty much anything that's sparkly enough for the 'gram.
While popular spots such as Gelato Messina and Cow and The Moon have long pushed our cones into higher standards and more creative flavours, there are many more options across the city (and state) that have their own spin on this frozen treat. Here are our picks of Sydney's top melting moments.
MaPo Gelato, a new scoop shop for Newtown. Photo: Supplied
Landing on King Street in 2019, MaPo has become the cream of the crop for the city's gelato fanatics. Made fresh every day using raw, organic ingredients, owner Matteo Pochintesta learned his craft in Milan before returning to Australia and bringing the high Italian standards with him. Many of the flavours, stored in traditional pozzetti (steel tubs designed to keep the gelato refrigerated at the perfect temperature, -12C), are vegan; the sorbets use just three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar; there are absolutely no colours, preservatives or additives; and Pochintesta stocks only compostable paper cups and spoons. Signatures include the (vegan) smoky macadamia, using Australian nuts and Olsson's salt; fior di latte made with Barambah Organics milk; or the creamy (though dairy-free) Packham pear sorbet. Expect a line after dinner.
123 King St, Newtown; maponewtown.com
Dopa is a Japanese milk bar in Haymarket. Photo: John Puah
Dopa by Devon
Located in the buzzing Darling Square precinct, this sparkling younger sister to Devon cafe is like a Japanese-style Aussie milk bar. Order their signature, the shaved ice kakigori (standard flavours are matcha or strawberry, but look out for seasonal additions like mango) to share, or go solo on their next-level diner-style parfaits (the tiramisu version comes with sponge fingers, espresso, whipped cream cheese, cocoa and tiramisu gelato).
Shop 5-6, 2 Little Hay Street, Sydney, instagram.com/dopabydevon
Gelato Franco, in Marrickville. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
At this old-school gelateria in the heart of Marrickville, it's all in the family. Traditional Italian sorbettos get a twist of herbs from owner Franco Riservato's mum's garden (depending on the season, you might see peach and basil, or orange and mint), and Riservato isn't afraid to experiment with fun creations inspired by his own life (strawberry with prosecco-poached pineapple was a Mother's Day hit, while a coconut with salted plum and lime was inspired by a trip to Singapore, and Anzac Day served up gelato sandwiches with Anzac biscuits made by his sister-in-law).
Chestnut and hazelnut cream gelato from Anita. Photo: Supplied
Anita La Mamma del Gelato
Whether you get your scoop from the Central Park or Bondi Beach outpost, expect a crowd at this popular chain. Signature flavours such as cookie man (a mix of chocolate, hazelnut biscuit and meringue), mille feuille, panna cotta or Loaker Italian wafer are big hits, but the sugar-free and vegan options (hello vegan Oreo, or a refreshing watermelon and mint sorbet) are also worthy of your attention. It's worth noting, too, that their frozen yoghurt comes with unlimited free toppings.
28 Broadway, Chippendale; and 180 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach; anita-gelato.com
The gelato burger at Cremeria De Luca. Photo: Supplied
Cremeria De Luca
Beginning in Sicily in 1937 on the back of a tiny truck, Salvatore De Luca's traditional gelato has has lived on through family generations setting up shop in in Sydney, first in Leichardt and now at this local-favourite bolthole in Five Dock. Scooped straight from the pozetti, order classics like gianduja and zabajone cassata, typical Sicilian granitas, as well as vegan gelato such as dirty chai and soy chocolate. At Christmas the De Luca's make panettone semifreddo cassata gelato cakes, but year-round, the gelato burger – a brioche sandwich of gelato, nutella and Italian-style whipped cream – is a must.
84 Ramsay Road, Five Dock; cremeria-deluca.com
Ciccone & Sons Gelato, Redfern. Photo: Supplied
Ciccone & Sons
There's always something new to try at this Redfern local, from seasonal flavours like fruit cake at Christmas to collaborations with mates like the cold-brew granita using Loggerhead Coffee to their growing range of amaros, limoncello and liqueurs (including bottles made in South Australia). The buttermilk and passionfruit is a standard favourite (using Pepe Saya buttermilk, no less) and the banana split a nostalgic date-night delight, but in the height of summer, you can't beat one of their smooth-as-silk sorbettos (their chai version feels like walking into a fridge made of gingerbread).
195 Regent St Redfern; facebook.com/cicconeandsons
Freshly packed tubs at Toscana Gelateria Naturale. Photo: Supplied
Toscana Gelateria Naturale
Run by a husband and wife team in Georges Hall, this no-frills gelateria is a local favourite for south-west Sydneysiders. Nando Bellini has been making natural gelato for more than 20 years, devout to the Italian style of fresh is best. There are no pre-made pastes here: Nando and his wife Lisa buy all their nuts every week and roast them in-house to ensure fresh, rich flavour for pistachio, hazelnut and macadamia scoops. There is a range of flavours on rotations, including plenty of vegan options, and favourites include ricotta and cinnamon, lemon and mint sorbet, and tiramisu (made the traditional way with mascarpone and eggs), plus spectacular gelato cakes. It's a labour of love for the duo, but for them (and their customers) it's worth it.
103 Denman Road, Georges Hall; facebook.com/Toscanagelaterianaturale
C9 Gelato's doughnut sandwich. Photo: Omid Daghighi
C9 Chocolate & Gelato
Pure melted Belgian chocolate on tap, anyone? Dress up your gelato with this liquid heaven for free, or try popular flavours such as cookies 'n' cream, chocolate brownies, macadamia and caramel, mango sorbet and pistachio. Decadence is a major theme here, with nutella ball doughnut sandwiches, brownie sandwiches and molten lava cake sandwiches, all stuffed with their gelato. C9's chefs churn out new flavours every fortnight, the newest addition for 2020 being "Try Me Once", burnt sugar gelato topped with caramelised cookie and caramel sauce. Opened late last year, the brand new location in Macquarie Centre joins their Crows Nest spot and Newtown spots.
Level 3, Macquarie Centre, North Ryde; 55 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest; and 199 King Street, Newtown; @c9chocolateandgelato
The vegan pavlova and chocolate brownie at Gelato Blue Newtown. Photo: Christopher Pearce
In 2020 there are enough vegan gelato options to satisfy every plant-based devotee in the city, but this Newtown scoop-shop has been 100 percent vegan since 2016, when the family-run gelateria switched to dairy-free for both animal welfare and environmental concerns and to make their handmade ice-cream accessible to everyone in the inner west. ake their batches with coconut milk, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture that is the perfect base for flavours such as honeycomb or panna cotta (order a scoop with their Dutch waffles). Weekly specials include chilli chocolate, Turkish delight and avocado with kaffir lime
318 King Street, Newtown, @gelatoblue
Turkish flavours at Hakiki on Enmore Road. Photo: Supplied
Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream
Hakiki hand-churns its ice-cream dondurma-style, a traditional Turkish method of making ice-cream that dates back to the 1600s. Thicker and stretchier than your usual ice-cream (thanks to the use of salep, or orchid root extract), Hakiki owners Nev and Zeynep Bagriyanik claim "it's the only ice-cream in the world that can be eaten with a knife and fork"; even on a hot day, it takes a long time to melt. Flavours skew Middle Eastern: try grape molasses and tahini, baklava, sticky date and pecan, rosewater, Turkish coffee, or mandarin and pomegranate. Crowds also gather at this Enmore Road hotspot for their house-made baklava, Turkish delights or slow-brewed traditional coffee.
Shop 1, 63-74 Enmore Road, Newtown, hakiki.com.au
Chocolate cheesecake and french vanilla flower gelato at i-Creamy. Photo: Lucy Booth
i-Creamy Artisan Gelato
Upgrade your Valentine's Day bunch with a cone of these Instagram-worthy gelato flowers, sculpted petal by petal with i-Creamy's award-winning gelato. Owners Pichaporn Sapsittiporn and Sasinuch Lapwongpaiboon draw on their Thai heritage flavour-wise, with Thai milk tea, durian, taro, black sesame and nom yen (pink milk). Classics such as cookies and cream, rum and raisin and peanut butter are also available; and sorbets are made with fresh Aussie produce.
Shop 13, Skyview Plaza, 537-551 George Street, Sydney, i-creamy.com.au
Traditional Italian cups at RivaReno. Photo: Nikki To
RivaRenomake serious authentic Italian gelato. Each flavour is made fresh every day, poured straight out of the machine into the cool pozzetti (lidded freezer tubs) counter, the traditional way of storing gelato that helps to preserve thes silky texture. Pistachios come all the way from Sicily, and hazelnuts from Piedmont – oh, and there's no artificial flavours, colourings or other questionable additives. Not sure where to start? Try the "Cremino RivaReno", inspired by the famous multi-layered gianduja chocolates from Turin; or opt for one of the fruit sorbets, which use 55 per cent fresh fruit with no concentrates, purees or premade fruit pastes.
280 Crown Street, Darlinghurst; and Shop 4, 33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; rivareno.com.au
The power of ice-cream and crepes combined. Photo: Supplied
Though the name speaks of their soft, Greek-style crepes, the gelato at Love Crepe is a scoop worth seeking. After studying at gelato university (yes, it's a thing) in Bologna, brothers Michael and Nick Kondilis dedicated themselves to using fresh, premium ingredients. We love the vanilla malt, coffee crunch or the pistachio (the nuts are imported from Sicily's pistachio epicentre, Bronte). Don't leave without a hand-held sweet or savoury crepe – the guys have even developed a gluten-free crepe batter. The gelato is made daily, along with gelato cakes, milkshakes, homemade custards and condiments.
216 Lyons Road, Drummoyne; lovecrepe.com
Gelato on the road by Mr Goaty. Photo: Supplied
It's goat's milk gelato, served out of a revamped Mr. Whippy van. Former Three Blue Ducks chef Dan Hughes came up with the concept, preparing the gelato in-house, churning in small batches and incorporating ingredients from his own kitchen garden on the Central Coast. The gelato contains less sugar than your standard scoop, as the sweetness comes from seasonal fruit instead. Hughes' sweet ride travels around the region at festivals, events and markets in Avoca, Newcastle, Maitland, Hunter Valley and more, and you can find Mr Goaty at a permanent spot at Bar Botanica, in Erina.