The obsession with Messina's creamy desserts has spread far and wide. Originally located in Sydney, Messina quickly gained a reputation among Melbourne sweet-tooths for their fresh, innovative gelato. So when the store finally moved interstate, Melburnians warmly welcomed Victoria's first Gelato Messina with steady queues out the door. More than a year later, they've barely budged. The Fitzroy store is Messina's largest to date. Clearly, Donato Toce and Simone Panetta, Melbourne's Messina champions, came prepared.
Our excessive fondness for Messina is perhaps the most accurate reflection of the real, honest work that goes into preparing the gelato. From every doughnut to brownie, peanut fudge to jam, Messina uses raw ingredients to make every single element of every flavour you taste. Their revered gelato is then pasteurised and churned fresh in-store to keep it perfectly creamy whether you visit in hailing winters or sweaty summers.
"Every gelato we are selling today we made yesterday," Simone said. "At Messina we have a strong focus on quality, not fast pace." And given the amount of genuine love and effort which goes into every cup and cone, we'd have to agree.
Like it's Sydney sister, Melbourne's Messina offers 40 different permanent flavours. As if that’s not enough to leave you floundering at the freezer, there are also limited edition releases — and they're released every week. One limited edition is revealed every weekday, and each special lasts a maximum of one week. According to Simone, Messina has a backlog of about 1000 limited edition gelatos. Some notable editions include the Robert Brownie Jnr and Hodor, which occasionally reappear for their cult fans.
The stores interior fits snugly on Smith Street. Between homely exposed brick and pressed metal, you can watch staff behind a glass window diligently preparing every component for Messina's popular cakes. In the words of Simon, it's "classy, but not too fancy".
"The store is just a container for the two main characters: the gelato cabinets with all its colour and the kitchen where we show off our creations everyday."
If you’re going to be overwhelmed by the mosh pit that is often inside Messina, their best selling salted caramel and white chocolate is a great first choice. If you're in the mood for a more fruity dessert, the pear & rhubarb is perfectly delicate and definitely worth a try. Don't forget to check the specials board (and to ask for a taste if you want to make a considered decision).
Modern with an oddball charm, nowadays if you visit Fitzroy you’ll find Messina's signature patterned green and orange cups wandering around the suburb, as reflection of our insatiable need for their creamy gelato.