Find yourself anywhere in Sydney at any time of day, and chances are you’ll spot a couple of people walking about with that telltale green-and-orange cup piled high with creamy gelato. The obsession has spread interstate, with Gelato Messina opening its highly anticipated first Melbourne store on Smith Street, Fitzroy.

Established in 2002, its range of 40 permanent flavours and weekly specials, all made in-house from Warrnambool milk, made Gelato Messina a fixture in its first home in Darlinghurst. As the queues became a permanent feature at the shop, stores in Surry Hills and Bondi soon followed suit.

Messina founder Nick Palumbo long dreamed of the perfect spot for a Melbourne Messina. “We’ve always wanted to be in Melbourne, but we could never really put our finger on where,” he explains. “Walking around Collingwood, we just thought wow, this is Darlinghurst 10 years ago. It’s a bit real, you know what I mean?”

The fit-out of the store keeps with the feel of the neighbourhood – exposed brick, pressed metal, pressed tin and a colourful wall mural by Jeremy Neale. “We’ve done a bit more of a warehouse-y, warm feel there,” Palumbo says.

Headed by lifelong gelato aficionado, Simone Panetta, Melbourne’s Messina will also feature the talents of former gelato world champion, Sergio Colalucci, who’ll be churning the gelato in-store. Panetta started making gelato with his uncle when he was only 12. “I used to help him during the weekends with my parents quite angry because I had to do homework, but instead I used to do gelato,” he explains. “Six years ago, I decided to take it very seriously, and I attended the gelato university in Italy.”

According to Panetta, the Fitzroy outlet will be the ‘same old Messina,’ in a new position. “It’s the same philosophy,” he explains. “We will have exactly the same gelato offer, the same cakes. We will have also the same special flavours, and they’ll come out on the same day in Sydney and Melbourne.”

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While he admires plenty of the gelato already on offer in Melbourne, he thinks that Messina is a little bit different. “I don’t think we are better, of course not,” he says. “But everything we make is made from scratch. We work hard on our recipes; there is a lot of passion behind it. There are a lot of long nights thinking about new flavours and trying to understand what people want.”

Gelato Messina
237 Smith Street, Fitzroy
(02) 8354 1223

Mon to Thurs noon-11pm
Fri to Sat noon-11.30pm
Sun noon-11pm