Summer in Sydney can be hot, hot, hot, and the winter never really gets that cold, so anytime of year is the perfect time to taste the wares of Sydney’s artisanal gelato makers.
In addition to its espresso coffee culture, another delicious example of Sydney’s Italian immigrant heritage is its flourishing gelato scene. "Ice cream" might just be the literal translation of gelato from Italian, but the difference between the two is that gelato is denser and more elastic (ice cream has more air whipped through it); it’s lower in fat; and is best served slightly warmer. For those who are lactose-intolerant, all of the establishments below also offer refreshing sorbets, or sorbetto—like gelato, but minus the milk.
The friendly rivalry that exists between the various gelato-makers in Sydney ensures a high standard for lucky tasters. Here are some of the best:
The intensely popular Gelato Messina keeps sprouting new branches (in The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, 02.9571.1918; at 389 Crown Street, Surry Hills, 02.9332.1191; 1/241 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, 02.9331.1588; 6/61 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, 02.9130.2877; 283 Church Street, Parramatta, 02.9635.3064; and Shop 1203/600 The Kingsway, Miranda, 02.9524.0915). Gelato Messina draws on traditional Sicilian gelato-making skills to make interesting twists on old favourites, such as chocolate fondant, or pannacotta with fig jam and amaretti biscuits. They also mix it up, inventing new and innovative flavours, such as coconut pandan, lychee coconut, salted caramel and salted coconut with mango salsa.
Owner and Chef George Pompei opened his eponymous pizzeria, trattoria and gelateria Pompei’s (126-130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach, 2.9365.1233) 15 years ago, and people have flocked ever since for the thin-crust pizzas and traditional style gelato, with flavours such as pistachio, stracciatella (milk and cream with chocolate chips), tiramisu, and perhaps best of all, 70 percent dark chocolate. Order a couple of scoops, and sit inside gazing at the pastel tiled walls, or perhaps outside watching the passers-by on the plaza. Just like in Italy!
Located in Sydney’s inner west, the small gelateria Cow and the Moon (181 Enmore Road, Enmore, 02.9557.4255) was recently awarded the coveted Gelato World Tour title in Rimini, Italy, for its almond affogato creation, which combines caramelised roasted almonds, single-origin coffee with a Madagascan vanilla bean base. The almonds remain exquisitely crunchy – how do they do that? – but the best thing about this one is the texture. Since its world-beating success, queues now form at peak times, so get to Cow and the Moon early if you can.
Kieran Tosolini, the owner of RivaReno Gelato (280 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, 02.9356.2669) was very impressed by a RivaReno outlet in Bologna, so much so he brought the brand here, keeping its high standards. RivaReno doesn’t open till 1pm, after the gelato has been freshly made in the morning. As do the other gelaterias, it uses many ingredients imported from Italy, especially nuts, but also marscapone. Flavours range from the modern, such as NYNY – which incorporates Canadian maple syrup and caramelised pecans – to the very traditional. The latter includes Crema Fiorentina, based on a 400-year-old recipe, which incorporates eggs, honey and a special Marsala wine. Unlike the lavish displays of its rivals, RivaReno stores its wares in pozzetti (sealed metal containers) which keep the gelato fresh and at the best temperature.