Where to Find the Best Ice Cream and Gelato in Sydney
Whether you like your scoops creamy, salty, deep-fried or vegan, you can find them here.
September 21, 2023
Few things excite the summertime senses of Sydneysiders more than ice cream. Aside from beer and the beach, it's one of the most definitive features of an Australian summer.
While a Golden Gaytime from 7-Eleven will always hold a place in our hearts (and rightfully so), it's hard to fit one in with all the flavours that need to be sampled around town. Think black sesame and champagne sorbet and tahini ice cream you eat with a fork.
To help you make the difficult decision as to just what ice cream to eat today, we've compiled a list of the best ice cream and gelato joints in Sydney. Venture forth on this icy sojourn and work your way through this list over summer.
This Newtown ice cream joint is scooping quality gelato with a focus on sustainable ingredients. Italian-born owner Matteo Pochintesta is an architect-turned-gelato maker who trained under the owner of Milan's gelateria Ciacco — and returned to Sydney last year to put his skills to the test. Sure, there are plenty of gelato shops along King Street, but Mapo brings a purist's sensibility to the local ice cream game, focusing on the highest quality ingredients and all seasonal fruit.
Signature flavours include the pistachio, made with certified premium Sicilian nuts, and the single-origin chocolate gianduja — both are vegan. Other traditional Italian flavours include the fior di latte and the stracciatella (chocolate chip). Flavours are limited to 12–14 at a time, with plenty of specials on offer, like its previous cold brew coffee gelato collab with Potts Point's Room Ten.
GELATO MESSINA, VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Sure, people were making gelato in Sydney before Gelato Messina — but it was Messina that made it cool. And, even though it's grown from a single shop in Darlinghurst to an ice cream empire that includes 19 gelato stores in NSW, it's still just as popular. The epic cabinet is always stocked with 40 flavours at a time — 35 regulars and five weekly specials — that are all made 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). Also expect collabs, degustations and special cake options at its Sydney gelato stores.
Gelato Messina's HQ is in Marrickville, and outposts can be found in Rosebery, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Brighton Le Sands, Martin Place, Harris Farm, Newtown, Tramsheds, Bondi, Circular Quay, Darling Square, Miranda, Manly, Norwest, Randwick, Parramatta, Surry Hills, Penrith and The Star.
CICCONE & SONS, REDFERN
While the bigger players dominate much of the attention in Sydney's gelato scene, the smaller businesses, like Redfern's Ciccone & Sons, are harbouring some of the city's most lickable delights. Ciccone's menu, displayed on an old-school red felt letter board, is limited to all seasonal flavours that are churned on-site daily using jersey milk.
It is serious about quality ingredients elsewhere too, using fresh fruit, whole nuts and fine chocolate across the board. In summer, things lean a little more to the fresh and fruity side with coconut and watermelon granitas and sorbettos making an appearance. The gelataria is also licensed, and you can now grab a Ciccone negroni from the takeaway fridge — along with gelato-on-a-stick and tubs for two. Anytime of the year, the team here create some of the best gelato in Sydney.
COW & THE MOON, ENMORE
This tiny shop on Enmore Road looks fairly inconspicuous from the outside, but it is a true local gem. Cow & the Moon make all of its gelato in-house using a recipes developed over the past 27 years. The traditional flavours are all winners here — including the gianduia, pistachio and tiramisu — as are the raspberry white chocolate and the strawberry balsamic pannacotta. In the lucrative field of sorbets, the chocolate is one of the best around. Cow & the Moon also turns out espresso tonics, affogatos and gelato cakes to boot. Grab a cone and a seat out front to enjoy your Sydney gelato while you watch the Enmore locals in action.
SMALL JOYS GELATO, FIVE DOCK
Here's the scoop — this gelateria in Five Dock is slinging artisan gelato with Asian-inspired flavours at the core. The innovative Sydney gelato spot strikes a balance between maintaining tradition and experimenting with new flavour combinations. Head inside and you'll be met with an Italian pozzetti-style display, with the cold treats housed in silver tin casings to ensure the texture and temperature of the scoops remain perfect. While this set-up screams traditional, the combinations of flavours may surprise you.
Small Joys Gelato has 10–12 flavours available on its ever-changing rotation, which is tweaked and announced on the Small Joys Gelato Instagram page every three weeks. The flavours take inspiration from Asia, hence the appearance of some non-traditional and unexpected flavour pairings. This includes the likes of Hong Kong milk tea, pistachio sea salt, peanut butter jam toast and strawberry shizo. There's also a range of exciting sorbets on rotation, including a mango lemon myrtle flavour, umeshu (Japanese liquor) and coconut lime.
RIVARENO GELATO, DARLINGHURST, BARANGAROO, POTTS POINT AND PARRAMATTA
There aren't many foods that can bring a smile to a Sydneysider's face quite as quickly as gelato. Australian-born, Italian-influenced entrepreneur Kieran Tosolini knew this all too well when he brought his Bologna-based chain Rivareno back with him to Crown Street. All flavours are made in small batches daily at each of the seperate Darlinghurst, Potts Point, Barangaroo and Parramatta stores.
The most popular varieties include the mascarpone — which comes with a splash of Sicilian dessert wine, Arabica coffee and dark chocolate slivers — and the Cremino Rivareno, which offers swirls of white chocolate and hazelnut ganache. If you're after something more refreshing, try a sorbet or granita, made using fresh fruit.
Newtown's cult favourite Turkish ice creamery Hakiki has been impressing Sydneysiders since early 2015. It has earned quite the reputation for its traditional Maras-style ice cream — which is smooth and creamy, yet drip-free and melt-resistant, until the second it hits your mouth. The signature serve is so thick, it's best tackled with a knife and fork. The ingredient that gives the ice cream this unusual texture is an orchid root grown in southern Turkey.
Alongside classic Anatolian treats like baklava, turkish delight and rich coffee (which are each gelato flavours as well), the team whips up a range of traditional and innovative ice cream varieties — from old favourites like pistachio and hazelnut to the ever-popular melon and feta and the moreish grape molasses and tahini. It's home to both the best gelato and ice cream in Sydney.
DUO DUO, STRATHFIELD
Deep-fried ice cream is the kind of confection that delivers the best of two worlds: cold and creamy, warm and crunchy. This singular treat takes the starring role in the flagship Strathfield store from longtime Sydney food truck Duo Duo. When it comes to its deep-fried ice cream, the specialty is made with pandan and coconut, but you can fry just about every flavour available.
Beyond this, there's a classic gelato bar out front scooping classics like vanilla bean and pistachio, alongside more inventive flavours like durian, macha, taro, Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai milk tea. Duo Duo is even slinging fresh doughnuts — filled with either Biscoff, crème brûlée, strawberry and custard. This Sydney ice cream joint has the lot.
Top image: Gelato Messina
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