Messina Gelato: Dr Evil's Magic Mushroom Cake
Behind the scenes at Gelato Messina on the Magic Mushroom Cake assembly line.
Gelato Messina fans in Newtown no longer have to walk very far for a Robert Brownie Jr, Curd Your Enthusiasm or Elvis The Fat Years cone. The popular gelato parlour is finally setting up in the inner-west suburb, with an outlet opening in late August.
"I always kicked myself for not getting into Newtown years ago," says founder and co-owner Nick Palumbo. "It was actually going to be the original site over Darlinghurst back in 2001, but for whatever reason, I chose Darlo and we opened in 2002." (So sorry Newtown residents, you've been Messina-deprived and had to contend with a not-as-fun Commonwealth Bank where the original venue was meant to go.)
Now though, Gelato Messina is setting up two doors down from that King Street location, right into the spot where Gelatomassi has been operating since 2003 - because its owners will be moving on soon.
"I know all the guys on the street and all are great people doing a great job, so I always said that the only way Messina could ever get to Newtown was if one of them wanted to sell as I didn't want to muscle in [on] their turf," says Palumbo.
It's good news for Messina fans, as the company had previous said the upcoming Tramsheds location in Rozelle would be the only inner west venue planned.
"We went through a bit of a moment last year where we thought that maybe we were opening up too many stores too quickly and so we simply wanted to slow things down a bit and have a break, especially after having opened in the Gold Coast and Las Vegas," says Palumbo. "Newtown came up and it was an opportunity we couldn't miss out on."
Residents in the area are in no threat of an ice-cream drought - with N2 Extreme Gelato further down the strip and Hakiki and Cow and Moon not too far away on Enmore Road. But having close access to Messina is no bad thing at all, given everyone's willingness to form nightclub-style queues for its cult cones (which are topped with both old-school flavours, like Tiramisu and Pistachio, and inventive attention-seekers like the recent Game of Cones creations, such as the choc-fudge Jon Snow, which may have resembled a muddy battle once you conquered it).
When Gelato Messina moved into its Surry Hills store, it launched a flavour inspired by the previous owner (the rosewater and pistachio Ode To Zeno's to name-check the Lebanese takeaway bar that had just vacated the spot). Will there be a tribute to Gelatomassi when Messina opens in Newtown?
"We will come up with something for sure to honour [owners] Sal and Chich, but haven't quite nailed it yet," says Palumbo. "We won't let it out of the bag until we open."
262 King Street, Newtown, gelatomessina.com