Where to Find the Best Ice Cream and Gelato in Melbourne
Whether you like your gelato and ice cream scoops creamy, salty, vegan or ensconced in a fairy floss cloud, you can find them here.
September 26, 2023
While there will always be a soft spot in our hearts for corner store Paddle Pops and Golden Gaytimes, it's hard to pass up hand-churned gelato from one of Melbourne's many boutique vendors. To help you make the difficult decision as to just what ice cream to eat today, we've compiled a list of where to find the best ice cream and gelato in Melbourne. Venture forth on this icy sojourn and work your way through this list over summer.
PICCOLINA GELATERIA, VARIOUS MELBOURNE LOCATIONS
A firm neighbourhood favourite across town, Piccolina has stores in Hawthorn, Richmond, Collingwood, Chadstone, St Kilda and the CBD. All stores sport a Hecker Guthrie-designed fit-out that makes playful nods to the 1950s in southern Italy. It's all about the authentic Italian gelato here. Think varieties like fior di latte, stracciatella, pistachio and lemon, plus refreshing granitas like watermelon, mint and lime.
The all-natural flavours are churned using traditional techniques and this made-from-scratch ethos applies to the nut-butters, choco-hazelnut sauce (served from a fountain), caramels and jams too. Hit up any of its locations to find some of the best gelato in Melbourne.
KENNY LOVER, THORNBURY
Kenny Lover is the nostalgia-fuelled project from Tom Peasnell (Peaches, Dexter, Cheek), and Henry Sugar's Mike Baker and Daniel Mason, with styling and design by Maria Angelico. It's dishing up 70s Australiana vibes, alongside an offering of unusual ice cream and sorbet flavours — sure to stir up some good old-fashioned childlike excitement.
The half-vegan ice cream and gelato menu features plenty of native flavours, with current varieties including peanut butter and grape jelly, Milo and rice bubble crunch, cinnamon donut and mandarin and vanilla and soy sauce caramel. Your inner kid is sure to be stoked about the hot chips for dipping, too.
GELATO MESSINA, VARIOUS MELBOURNE LOCATIONS
It was with open arms that Melbourne welcomed the much-hyped Sydney gelateria onto Fitzroy's Smith Street back in 2013. Now, Gelato Messina has stores in Windsor, Richmond and Brunswick East too. The wait for some of the best gelato in Melbourne is notoriously lengthy — in heatwaves and chilly nights alike, lines can snake down the road. But the epic cabinet is always stocked with 40 flavours — 35 regulars and five weekly specials — that are all made in-house and with Messina's own milk.
Some flavour suggestions: the apple pie ice cream (it contains real home-baked cinnamon spiced apple pies), the tiramisu (a must try for any self-respecting coffee addict), salted coconut and mango (vegan and fresh) and the salted caramel and white chocolate (a crowd favourite).
PIDAPIPO, CARLTON, FITZROY, CBD AND WINDSOR
All along the Italian side of Lygon Street, we're used to seeing the bright colours of gelato overflowing their containers in glass-covered fridges. At Pidapipo, you will not see any gelato until it is sitting in front of you. Lisa Valmorbida, the owner of Pidapipo, has brought in a stainless steel, Italian-built pozzetti fridge. Here, the gelato is kept hidden away at an optimal temperature, so you know you're tasting the gelato at its best. Regular rotating flavours are a mix of Italian gelateria classics sat alongside a few experimental test combinations.
The hazelnut, fior di latte and pistachio are some of the best out there, but if you are feeling adventurous, try one of the lab creations thought up at Pidapipo Laboratorio in Fitzroy — past creations include coconut, roasted macadamia and white chocolate brownies, mojito sorbetto and fresh milk with dark chocolate.
GIRLS & BOYS, FITZROY
Fitzroy stalwart Vegie Bar has been a plant-based go-to for over three decades. But you don't have to dine-in to enjoy the eatery's vegan sweet treats. Grab 'em straight from the source at Girls & Boys, a 100-percent vegan dessert bar that's set in an adjoining Brunswick Street space. The shops sells tarts, doughnuts and other baked goods, but the jewel in its crown is its housemade vegan gelato.
Flavours change seasonally, but might include peach and pistachio, tiramisu and mango sorbet. Vegans will be overwhelmed by choice — especially since you can get your scoops in a cookie sandwich, dipped into a white or dark choc-top and layered in a decadent sundae to boot. It's not just home to some of the best vegan gelato in Melbourne, it's where you'll find some of the city's best gelato, period.
GELATERIA PRIMAVERA, CBD
Sitting quietly on the Parliament end of the city inside Spring Street Grocer, Gelateria Primavera has held down a reputation as one of the best artisanal gelaterias in Melbourne for some time now. Similarly to Pidapipo, it uses the pozzetti storage tubs to house the gelato out of sight and ready to be eaten at the best possible temperature. The menu changes daily, though you can be sure to always find something to suit your taste.
A few recent favourites include the salted caramel, hazelnut, mango passionfruit sorbet and creamy lemon gelato. If you can't stop by for a scoop, order online and opt for home delivery, which is available in 500-millilitre tubs and within ten kilometres of the city — that means you can have some of the best ice cream and gelato in Melbourne without even leaving the house.
CUPPA TURCA, NORTHCOTE
Once you've tried a Turkish-style ice cream sandwich, you may never go back to a "regular" one. Using stretchy Maras ice cream (the stuff can be eaten with a knife and fork) Northcote cafe Cuppa Turca serves the icy treat between two slices of crispy hand-rolled baklava. It's then topped with hot pink Persian fairy floss.
For those who are after something a little less extra, there's a more tame version served between two thin wafers. Or you can just have a scoop on its own, with flavours including feta and melon, mint and brownie and Turkish delight. Whatever you pick, order it with a cup of coffee made on hot sand. Change things up a little next time you're after ice cream and gelato in Melbourne.
AQUA S, CBD
Sweet tooths with a love of Instagrammable treats should make tracks to the QV Melbourne outpost of Aqua S. It ticks the boxes for both taste and novelty with its signature sea salt-flavoured soft serve — this cloud-like dessert is topped with a pillowy bed of fairy floss, sweet popcorn, popping candy and grilled marshmallow.
Other than the sea salt soft-serve, Aqua S churns out new specialty flavours every two weeks. Recent specials have included burnt basque cheesecake, royal milk tea, Milo and raspberry lavender. Keep things simple with a single serve or choose a blended swirl of each, then pick from a range of OTT toppings like mochi, Oreo, berry meringue and brownie bites.
ZERO GRADI, BRUNSWICK EAST
Because conquering the pizza world isn't enough, 400 Gradi also has its own gelateria — which is set inside the restaurant's Lygon Street digs. Zero Gradi is home to traditional Neapolitan-style gelato, available from noon until 11pm daily. Classic and rotating flavour specials include pistachio, Oreo, peanut nutella and Ferraro Rocher. It also has Nutella and chocolate taps if you want to kick things up a notch.
Good luck narrowing your choices down to just one. Granita, Italian pastries, cakes and coffee are also on offer. And, of course, some of the best pizza in Melbourne.
BILLY VAN CREAMY, FITZROY NORTH
How Billy Van Creamy managed to churn out some of Melbourne's best ice cream from a truck is a mystery. But you no longer need to go looking for its wheels. As of 2018, BVC opened a permanent brick-and-mortar shop in Fitzroy North. As before, the gelato is made by hand with all natural ingredients like organic milk, crunchy nuts and vanilla beans.
The rotating selection of flavours includes the salted caramel, espresso, honeycomb and an incredibly rich vanilla bean ice cream. There are also a host of vegan flavours, of which you can't go past the peanut butter chocolate chip.
Top images: Piccolina by Jana Longhurst.
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