Sometimes it feels like just a handful of owner-operators rule over Adelaide’s dining scene. But this year has welcomed a crop of cafes from first-timers (albeit with some serious pedigree behind them), from a game-changing gelateria to an ambitious Portside cafe. We’ve also seen some familiar faces expand their footprint. Here’s what we’re loving, so far.

Bottega Gelateria
“We have a saying – noi lo facciamo davanti a tutti – which means, ‘We do it in front of everyone’… The gelati, I mean.” Bottega Gelateria moved into Henley Beach over summer, bringing the gelato-making process front and centre. Behind a huge pane of glass owner Adriano Macri makes everything from scratch, by hand. Everything he does is on display – except the actual gelati, which is hidden under lids in deep steel canisters, where it’s protected from light, air and moisture – “gelati’s worst enemies”. Macri was born in Adelaide but spent a decade in Italy, where he scoured the country’s gelaterias and studied at Carpigiani Gelato University near Bologna.

His own shop, just down from Henley Square, is a pastel-coloured snapshot of Italian summer. Flavours are seasonal – persimmon sobert or organic fig and ricotta, say ¬– but the classics, including hazelnut, pistachio, salted caramel and chocolate are mainstays. Hazelnut is the jewel in the crown. Macri imports the world’s “queen” of hazelnuts from Italy’s Piedmont region. The result is intensely roasty, at the same time delicate, and without the bitter aftertaste of homegrown hazelnuts. Go all-out and have the inside of your cone coated by an undulating chocolate fountain. Or there’s the stracciatella strewn with hardened shards of it – Cottee’s Ice Magic style.

The Banksia Tree
This 19th-century building has had a lot of lives. It was a butcher shop, the Brunswick Pier Hotel, a pharmacy and a short-lived hotdog joint. Last month it quietly re-opened as an ambitious brunch spot under husband-and-wife pair Fabian and Halie Folghera. The Folgheras spent the better part of 10 years travelling around Europe and Canada working hospitality jobs before moving back to Adelaide to open their own cafe. That’s when they fell in love with the Port. “Seeing all these really old buildings, the old architecture … it had a real grittiness about it,” says Fabian, who also spent time as a sous chef at Press.

The menu has brunch standards, jazzed up. There’s French toast with fresh figs, vino cotto, toasted nuts, honey, Australian river mint and pashmak (Iranian fairy floss). And blue swimmer crab with XO sauce and smoked hummus. Prompted by the food waste they’ve witnessed in various kitchens, the pair will make their cafe waste-free by 2020. For now, they’ve joined the Semaphore Compost Network: an initiative that coordinates a weekly pick-up of kitchen waste from Port Adelaide and Semaphore venues that’s then recycled into compost for use in local gardens, instead of commercial composting or landfill.

Abbots & Kinney
“I’ve always thought Abbots and Kinney was more of a suburban cafe; it was just situated in the CBD,” says Jonny Pisanelli. Earlier this year he launched its fourth location – the first outside the city – on Croydon’s Elizabeth Street in the former Red Door Bakery site. Pisanelli tapped Crafty Design's Candice Papagiannis to freshen up the vibe. The red door received a lick of pastel-pink paint and pink tiles now contrast with an otherwise muted colour scheme of black paint, concrete and timber panelling.

Pisanelli’s signature pastries are turned out daily, along with pies, pasties and sausage rolls. There's also a focus on breads, with sourdoughs, ciabattas, baguettes and more served charcuterie style. “Customers can choose what bread they want … and we’ll slice the meat and assemble the sandwich in front of them,” he says. Pisanelli has also added natural gelato to the repertoire. Find it out front in a gorgeous pastel-pink gelato cart.

Yeah Nah Yeah
Yeah Nah Yeah opened last month in the site of homey cafe Nana’s Kitchen Table, which owner Aimee Kempster took over last year before closing in October for renos and a rebrand. Six months later it’s reborn as a light and bright, contemporary cafe with a blush-pink, neon-clad feature wall, sleek black furnishings, and dangling greenery. Outside there’s a new breezy fenced-off seating area (which may eventually double as a beer garden – there’s talk of a liquor licence).

“I’ve been to so many [brunch] places hungover where there’s nothing [greasy],” says Kempster. Here, you can replenish with a “big, fat” eggs Benny, a hash-brown stack with all the breakfast trimmings, or a fried-chicken burger “the size of your head”. For something lighter you might choose from granola-topped breakfast panna cotta or a beetroot, chevre and fig salad. Vegan options include Korean-barbeque-style jackfruit bao buns and popcorn cauliflower. There’s also a cabinet-full of ready-to-go sangas and muffins and tarts baked in-house. Coffee is by Underdale roaster Show Pony (a second, premium label by the illusive BLK MRKT team).

When there’s only one item on the menu, you know it’s good. Saudade’s pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) elicit blissful eye-rolls from those who taste them. Portuguese-born owners – couples Carla and Miguel Alemao, and Mafalda Azevo and Joao Valle – quietly closed their original location last month to move into a slightly bigger space, just a few metres away, in Mitcham Shopping Centre. Despite the tarts’ wild popularity, the team was still finding there were people who shopped in the area who didn’t know they were there.

Now, it’s hard to miss. Marvel at the tart-making magic through huge panes of glass behind the counter before you tuck into the impossibly flaky, perfectly blistered, deliciously creamy results. There's also locally roasted Segafredo coffee, Lobethal-made Besa Juice and Portuguese soft drinks.

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 26, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.