Melbourne's artisanal gelato is the best it's ever been. Young Italians bring back knowledge from world-renowned gelato universities, stalwarts open stores across the city and creativity is churned into the mix in the form of Aussie nostalgia and overseas flavours. No matter the month, it's always gelato season here.
Lisa Valmorbida has come a long way since attending Bologna's Carpigiani Gelato University and opening Pidapipo on Lygon Street in 2014 (now also in Windsor and the CBD). Her small-batch-from-scratch gelati are firm favourites. Flavours such as key lime pie, vanilla bean and honeycomb and seasonal sorbetti hide beneath metal pozzetti lids, all set in white marble bench tops.
Various locations including 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, pidapipo.com
A slice of gelato cake with a backdrop of Piccolina's signature green tiles. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Piccolina adopts a traditional gelato-making approach geared at modern Melbourne tastebuds. The beautifully designed stores (Hawthorn, St Kilda, Richmond and Hardware Lane and Degraves Street in the CBD) are tiled and painted in signature Italian green. Everything is made in the Collingwood flagship, including "better than Nutella sauce" on tap, cheffy flavour collaborations, a take on Ice Magic and special-edition cakes.
Various locations including 296 Smith Street, Collingwood, piccolinagelateria.com.au
Regardless of the weather, there's always someone standing at Gelateria Primavera's old-world marble bar. At the front of Spring Street Grocer and neighbouring City Wine Shop, Primavera's seasonal flavours are scrawled on butcher's paper and crossed off as they sell out. They lay claim to the city's best pistachio gelato, with DOP nuts sourced from Bronte in Sicily.
157 Spring Street, Melbourne, springstreetgrocer.com.au
Mint-green Boca is a collaboration between Coda chef Adam D'Sylva and pastry chef Monika Frkovic. Pozzetti tubs are inlaid in terrazzo; house-made cookies and sauces are added to soft serves; and choc tops are based on nostalgic Australian ice-creams. D'Sylva's heritage comes through in paddles of spiced chai gelato, while Frkovic might experiment with Basque cheesecake or liquorice.
183 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe, bocagelato.com.au
A lot of work goes into Miinot's gelati, made fresh each day by a husband-wife team. The flavour selection is small but mighty and changes daily. There might be vegan feijoa, unique creations like Hong Kong-inspired Kowloon milk tea (milk tea, salted caramel and Oreo dust) or seasonally oriented scoops, like mascarpone truffle and honey.
71 Melville Road, Pascoe Vale South, miinotgelato.com
Kenny Lover's retro interior. Photo: Justin McManus
Soy sauce and choc-coated rice. Fairy bread and brown butter. Hibiscus and lemon. These are just a few examples of the quirky flavours on offer at this burnt-orange ice-creamery with suede banquettes and retro floor tiles. It's also the only place on this list that sells hot chips – dipping is encouraged for that perfect balance of sweet and salty.
796 High Street, Thornbury, kennylover.com.au
Il Melograno brings a taste of Sicily to Northcote, offering traditional and special gelati flavours in cones, cups or sandwiched between fresh brioche, as well as a selection of seasonal granita. The newer Fitzroy store on Brunswick Street is geared at takeaway, but in Northcote you can sit down for brunch or lunch before a sweet, Sicilian finish.
76 High Street, Northcote, ilmelograno.shop
Beku translates to "frozen" in Indonesian, a hint at how this gelataria is a little bit different. Beyond the pale blue walls and timber counter, pozzetti tubs burst with original flavours that change monthly. Think ube (sweet purple yam), Indian-inspired kheer vermicelli sprinkle, and even Es Puter gelato – a Ramadan special made with coconut milk and jackfruit bits.
171 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, bekugelato.business.site
Stretching Turkish-style ice-cream at Cuppa Turca. Photo: Paul Jeffers
Cuppa Turca Dondurma & Desserts
Dondurma is Turkey's chewy, stretchier version of ice-cream. Mastic and salep (dried orchard tuber flour) produce the texture, but here the owner has developed his own recipe with more readily available ingredients. In Istanbul vendors swing the elasticky treat around for show. At Cuppa Turca, dondurma is enjoyed inner-north Melbourne style on up-cycled furniture.
244 High Street, Northcote, cuppaturca.business.site
Two generations of Carpigiani Gelato University graduates run this pink neon-tinged gelateria at the bottom of a Brunswick apartment complex. The father-son team draws from their Calabrian heritage, which means flavours are fresh and light; perhaps yoghurt and wild berry, fior di banana or ricotta and citrus. There's also granita and tartufi, the latter a gelato-based dessert sphere with an oozy, liquid centre.
288 Albert Street, Brunswick, gelateriabico.com.au