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FOOD & DRINK

The Best Ice Cream and Gelato Joints in Melbourne

In this city, scoops come sandwiched in brioche, inside watermelon wedges and ensconced in fairy floss clouds.
By Concrete Playground
December 04, 2018
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The Best Ice Cream and Gelato Joints in Melbourne

In this city, scoops come sandwiched in brioche, inside watermelon wedges and ensconced in fairy floss clouds.
By Concrete Playground
December 04, 2018
  shares

While there will always be a soft spot in our hearts for corner store Paddle Pops and Golden Gaytimes, it's hard to pass on handmade gelato from one of Melbourne's many boutique vendors. To help make the difficult decision as to just what ice cream to eat today, we've compiled a list of our favourite ice cream and gelato joints in Melbourne. Venture forth on this icy sojourn and work your way through this list over summer.

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PICCOLINA GELATERIA, HAWTHORN, COLLINGWOOD AND ST KILDA

A firm neighbourhood favourite across town, Piccolina now has stores in Hawthorn and Collingwood and, as of spring 2018, St Kilda. All stores sport a Hecker Guthrie-designed fit-out that make playful nods to the 1950s in Southern Italy. At the St Kilda store you can get your mitts on 20 of Piccolina's all-natural handmade flavours, as well as four granita varieties. And prepare to go a little bit nuts with the chocolate and hazelnut — it has its own liquid chocolate fountain, drizzling signature house-made Nutella-style sauce 24 hours a day.

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GELATO MESSINA, FITZROY, WINDSOR AND RICHMOND

It was with open arms that Melbourne welcomed the much-hyped (and well-deserved hype, at that) Sydney gelateria into Smith Street back in 2013. Now Gelato Messina has stores in Windsor and Richmond too. The wait is notoriously lengthy; even on a cold day as well as during peak times, such as a recent heatwave, lines can extend down the road. It's a good idea to come here when you are not in a rush. All ice creams and gelato are made fresh and packed full of flavour. The apple pie ice cream contains real home-baked cinnamon spiced apple pies, the coffee flavour is a must try for any self-respecting coffee addict, pear and rhubarb is a great way to celebrate summer and the salted caramel and white chocolate is simply unmissable.

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PIDAPIPO, CARLTON, WINDSOR AND CBD

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 its cone, in your very own hand. Lisa Valmorbida, the owner of the Pidapipo, has brought in a stainless steel Italian-built pozzetti fridge — meaning literally under the lid — where the gelato is kept hidden away at an optimal temperature so you know you're tasting the gelato at its best. Twelve rotating flavours are available with classics you would expect from any Italian gelateria and, as the name suggests, a few experimental test combinations. The hazelnut, tiramisu and pistachio are some of the best out there, but if you are feeling adventurous, try one of the test lab creations constantly on rotation.

Pidapipo also now has stores in Windsor and Degraves Street in the CBD.

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Julian Kingma/Visit Victoria

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 artisan 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 tastes. Past delicious favourites include the salted caramel and chilli, watermelon and fresh mint, goats' curd with walnut and honey and young coconut and ginger.

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COMPÁ, FITZROY

From Carl Foderá and Marco Enea, the guys behind Northcote's popular (and mentioned on this list Il Melograno), this bright little spot specialises in artisan gelato and sorbetto. It's made traditionally using long-held family recipes, with a splash of new-school flair — all of it a nod to the colourful Italian province of Sicily. A third-generation gelato chef trained in Sicily, Enea's knocked up a top-notch range of flavours with zero preservatives, artificial flavourings or commercial essences, and, rather than using one gelato base across the whole range, each flavour is crafted separately from scratch, with recipes adapted seasonally.

Try them in a to-go cup or cone, or get really traditional with a gelato-filled cannoli, or a 'gelato con brioche': a fresh brioche roll stuffed with your pick of flavours. The boys are also slinging woodroasted Ricci Method coffee, to be enjoyed the Italian way, at the stand-up espresso bar.

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Annika Kafcaloudis

SUNDAE SCHOOL ICE CREAMERY, CAULFIELD

Karina and Clinton Serex, the minds behind Caulfield North's beloved Tuck Shop Take Away, are serving up another big dollop of nostalgia at Sundae School. A quick stroll down Hawthorn Road from its retro-tastic, burger-slinging sister venue (and perfectly located for a post-TSTA dessert fix), the shtick here is ice cream — specifically, the crafty, small-batch dairy delights Karina learnt to master during a recent stint at New York's famed OddFellows Ice Cream Co. The freezer here plays host to ten rotating flavours, alongside treats like ice cream sandwiches, old-school malted shakes crafted on house-made soft serve, and pimped-out sundaes, loaded with various textural additions and house-crafted sauces (think, salted choc fudge and raspberry ripple). The flavour lineup is anything but boring, running everything from a bacon, brown butter and banana number, to a strawberry black pepper sherbet.

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AQUA S, CBD

This Sydney-based soft serve store migrated south back in 2016 — and, boy, are we happy they did. Dishing out creamy sea salt soft serve with extravagant toppings like grilled marshmallow, popping candy and mochi, this is the stuff of childhood dreams. Two soft serve taps are on constant rotation, with past flavour favourites including pandan, lemon cheesecake and English breakfast. Getting the fairy floss ring is an essential add-on.

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IL MELOGRANO, NORTHCOTE

Westgarth's answer to Sicily is hiding inside the concrete cool of Il Melograno – and its gelato really is un poco taste of heaven. 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. Have it sandwich-style in a Sicilian brioche bun ($9.60) or get mouthy on the gluten free waffle cones ($1 extra). Because of the natural, preservative free character, the scoops do have to stay out of sight in metal wells that keep them fresh — so spy daily offerings such as their lemon, ricotta and cardamom on the chalkboard to the side.

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MILKCOW, CBD

Soft serve might seem like the something reserved for children and late-night Maccas runs, but Milkcow has proven that isn't the case. The South Korean soft serve joint creates epic desserts like its watermelon wedge filled with vegan and dairy-free watermelon ice cream and sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt. If that wasn't enough, the seeds adorning the outside are made from chocolate chips. Order it, Instagram it, eat it before it melts.

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Shannyn Higgins

ZERO GRADI, BRUNSWICK EAST

Because conquering the pizza world isn't enough, 400 Gradi also has its own gelateria. Zero Gradi is home to traditional Neapolitan gelato. Classic and rotating flavour specials include pistachio, salted caramel and espresso, and they have Nutella and chocolate taps to go on top if you wish. Good luck narrowing your choices down to just one. Granita, Italian pastries, cakes and coffee are also on offer.

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BILLY VAN CREAMY, FITZROY NORTH

How Billy Van Creamy manages to churn out some of Melbourne's finest ice cream from a truck is a mystery. But as well as roaming the city in their ice cream van, BVC have also opened a store which is always parked at Best Street in Fitzroy North. All gelato is made by hand with all natural ingredients like organic milk, crunchy nuts and vanilla beans. Expect a rotating selection of flavours like blueberry yoghurt swirl, apricot sorbet and incredibly rich vanilla bean ice cream. 

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Top image: Compá.

Published on December 04, 2018 by Concrete Playground

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