How do you spot the best gelaterias in town? "From the queue that snakes down the pavement in front," explains The Guardian. In Melbourne, where world-class gelato made by Italians is like a birthright, those queues just keep growing. As Gemima Cody in Good Food reminds us, gelato is Italy's lighter version of ice-cream – "milk, cream, sugar and eggs (not always, though), typically flavoured with nuts, pastes or fruits." What sets it apart from regular ice-cream is "a lower butterfat content thanks to a milk-to-cream bias, and a denser, more elastic texture resulting from a slower churn and a warmer serving temperature." Melbourne is replete with gelaterias who exist, as Cody explains, "to meet the insane demand of the crowds that can't and won't stop screaming for ice-cream."
Sitting quietly at the Parliament end of the city, Gelateria Primavera has "held down a reputation as one of the best artisan gelaterias in Melbourne for some time now," says Concrete Playground. They use pozzetti storage tubs to house their artisan gelato out of sight and ready to be eaten at the best possible temperature — "this eliminates the use of preservatives or additives that are needed for open-air display-cased gelato." Primavera is crowded for a reason, explains the Culture Trip: "As well as serving some of the best ice cream in the city, you can also find some unusual flavours like cinnamon and ricotta, or goats curd and avocado, alongside more traditional offerings, such as salted caramel and dark chocolate or their classic fruit sorbet."
Pidapipo sits on Lygon Street, Melbourne's most Italian thoroughfare, where the lines snake around the block on hot summer nights to get a taste of Lisa Valmorbida's gelartistry "in flavours such as such as pistachio, rose, coconut, ricotta and fig and Nutella swirl (similar to a stracciatella, but instead of chocolate chip it's got Nutella and Nutella sauce on the top)," says Broadsheet. Valmorbida travelled to Italy in 2013 "to learn the gelato ropes" and came back to take Melbourne by storm, writes Good Food. "The beats in the store are as loud as the colour scheme and gelati are pastel soft. This is light and clean-as-a-whistle gelati of churn-fresh elasticity that registers low on sugar unless you get your banana, raspberry swirl or fior di latte dunked under the Nutella tap (and why wouldn't you?)." And the store is inspired by Italian design of the '50s and '60s, rich with steel, brass, marble, stone, terrazzo, tiles and leather, notes Broadsheet.
Making authentic Italian gelato is very labour intensive, explains Sandra Foti, owner of Piccolina Gelateria in the classy eastern suburb of Hawthorn, who grew up eating her father's Italian homemade gelato. "Every component of Piccolina gelato is made using raw ingredients," writes Broadsheet. "For the 'bread, butter and jam' gelato, Foti bakes the bread in-house and sources fresh blueberries or figs from local farms to make the jam from scratch." Piccolina has more than 20 all-natural and seasonal gelato, sorbetti and granita flavours - including pistachio; salted caramel; passionfruit; coconut and watermelon; mint; and lime - and "as suggested by the great Italians, you must enjoy your gelato with a freshly baked Italian brioche bun," says Hidden City Secrets. "The aromas of nuts toasting and fresh fruit being chopped in front of you is all part of the experience, and makes choosing flavours a tougher process," notes Broadsheet. Gelato that really is "un poco taste of heaven."
Il Melograno is Westgarth's answer to Sicily, says Concrete Playground. The story starts with two boys, Marco Enea and Carl Fodera, who had the dream of bringing quality Italian gelato to the palates of Melburnians, "and although it's a third-generation family secret, it's one scoop we're more than happy to share with you." Flavours such as their Iranian pistachio are made using actual smashed pistachio kernels — "it's out of this world good and goes perfectly with their chocolate and rosemary creation." In true Italian style, you can have your scoop sandwiched in a brioche bun, notes Time Out. "These guys make some of the best and freshest iced treats this city has seen, using fresh seasonal produce for their sorbets and granitas and using traditional Italian flavour combos for their gelati."