It’s a home truth: people love ice cream. From tradies to foodies, very few can resist the charms of a creamy frozen delight. And when you switch the idea of humble ice cream with that of mind-bendingly good gelato, something else happens entirely. Hearts stir, angels sing, love affairs ensue. Cancel your flights to Rome folks, this is happening now – right here in Spring Street.

Perched alongside City Wine Shop at the top of town, Primavera’s shiny marble and neon shopfront is already buzzing, luring in curious passersby and happy clutches of gelato lovers. Early in 2013, the adjoining building space will welcome a high-end grocery store and panini bar, then later an artisan cheese cellar helmed by award-winning cheesemonger, Anthony Femia. But for now, with Melbourne’s balmier weather kicking in, the focus is firmly on gelato.

Christopoulos’s (The European, The Melbourne Supper Club, Journal, Gill’s Diner, Siglo, Neapoli) own gelato love-affair peaked with a trip to Bologna (Italy’s artisan gelato mecca) earlier this year. After considerable hands-on research, he was awestruck by the level of quality and freshness in the Bolognese product. After discovering some of the secrets behind the city’s most revered gelato establishments, he naturally wondered why the same wasn’t happening here in Melbourne.

He learned that the biggest no-no for the true artisan gelato purist was the ubiquitous refrigerated, glass-fronted cabinet, brashly piled high with mountains of gelato. “In Italy, the way to tell a really good gelateria is if they use pozzetti. You don’t see the gelati on display, but that’s actually a good thing,” he explains.

The old-school pozzetti cabinets keep the gelato enclosed in small, refrigerated ‘wells’ under stainless steel lids – effectively keeping the product much fresher by maintaining a more consistent temperature and minimising the oxidative influence of air and light, which otherwise ‘ages’ and dries-out the gelato. When you’re churning fresh gelato daily, using high-quality, often expensive, seasonal ingredients – as they do at Primavera –it makes sense to treat it with love. Here, the net effect is nothing short of spectacular and the freshness and vibrancy of Primavera’s gelati is undeniable – you just need to taste it.

Back in Melbourne, Christopoulos serendipitously managed to wrangle the services of highly-skilled and seriously talented ex-pat Italian gelati master, Massimo Bidin, who along with creative input from dairy expert, Femia, produces the range of daily offerings based on what’s good and in season.

With a rotating daily roster of up to 10 milk-based gelati flavours and six dairy-free sorbets, there’s always something for everyone. Classics (chocolate, fior di latte) sit alongside more sophisticated treats like the peach and basil sorbetto, a chilli-laced salted caramel gelato or the aromatic Moorish-inspired yoghurt, rosewater and mint combo – giving us plenty of reasons to come back. There’s also a range of cold-pressed organic juices, good espresso coffee and talk of grown-up ‘spiders’ too.

Instant classic? We’d say so.

Gelateria Primavera
157 Spring Street, Melbourne
(03) 9654 0811

Mon to Fri 7am–11pm
Sat & Sun 9am–11.30pm