Gelato is a pleasure that should be enjoyed year-round. But once the temperature tips over 30 degrees, Melburnians are doubly likely to be lined up outside the city’s gelaterias and ice-creameries, trying to decide which flavour(s) to taste-test – and then order.
Everyone’s got preferences: cup or cone, creamy or fruity, gelato or ice-cream. And chefs are no exception. So, we asked a flock of Melbourne’s best and up-and-coming chefs where they go to get their cool summer hit, and what they order when they’re there.
Jung Eun Chae, Chae
My go-to gelato place is Gelateria Bico. Apart from the fact that it was so conveniently located on the ground floor of the same Brunswick apartment [building] I used to live in, this place is my favourite because it really shows their passion about gelato. The pistachio is classic.
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Probably the coolest ice-cream around is at Cono Gelateria in Reservoir. It has incredibly exciting flavours, with organic fruits from neighbours’ backyards, and embraces the most beautiful community spirit that makes me want to move to Rezza just so I can be a local there.
HyoJu Park, Madeleine de Proust
Definitely Luther’s Scoops! The Earl Grey and milk chocolate is so amazing. So is the brown butter cheesecake. The malted vanilla is just insane, too – you can see so many vanilla seeds inside.
Joseph Vargetto, Mister Bianco
My favourite place to get gelato is Pidapipo on Lygon Street. It is made to authentic recipes and has true Italian flavours. My favourite flavours are pistachio and fior di latte. Plus, it’s part of King & Godfree, so you have the added benefit of the whole complex including Johnny’s Green Room upstairs. And you can go for a lovely walk in the area with your gelato.
Natalie Paull, Beatrix (now closed)
My greatest Melbourne gelato memory was in the summer of 2013. After a sweltering day at Beatrix, I picked the strawberry, mascarpone and balsamic gelato out of the pozzetti at Gelateria Primavera on Spring Street, back when Massimo Bidin and Anthony Femia were at the icy helm. I sat sweaty and dog-tired on a milk crate in the crusty laneway beside the grocer, and found God. I chased that flavour like Ahab after his whale, but I never saw it again.
I only dabble in eating frozen desserts but when the mood strikes me, I am at Piccolina ordering a two-scoop cone – one each of chocolate and pistachio. It’s always perfect lick-temp texture. Sometimes I take the pistachio as a milkshake because it’s frankly a genius beverage, and if I take a pack home I’ll include lemon gelato – a kind of adult Neapolitan trio.”
Jordan Clay, Pipis Kiosk
My top three. Number one is Spring Street Grocer – it’s a bit of an undercover spot that people often forget about. It’s a little bit more classic, but the texture of the ice-cream is always nice and it's always hyper-seasonal. My second choice is Pidapipo – this is a lot of people’s favourite, but the reason I like it is that it's a little bit lighter on its feet and not as rich as others. And my number three is Messina – the ice-cream's a little bit more luscious and a little bit richer – it's got that full mouth-feel going on.
Chris Terlikar, Bluebonnet and One Trick Pony
“Pistachio and chocolate fondant from Gelato Messina are my two favourites. We always have some in freezer at home.”
Andrea Vignali, Al Dente
I live in Collingwood and spend a lot of my time in the surrounding suburbs, so I feel spoilt for choice. Usually if I’m on foot, I head straight to Piccolina on Smith Street. Otherwise, we’re happy to travel slightly afar for the really good stuff at Boca Gelato in Ivanhoe. My favourite flavours from the team at Boca are the chocolate-honeycomb and their cookies and cream.
I love ice-cream so much, I even eat it for breakfast. When I think of dessert, I always think of ice-creams, gelatos and sorbets. There are a lot of amazing gelato and ice-cream makers and it’s a hard pick for the best, but there are a few that have their place in my heart and stomach. Beku Gelato for awesome Asian-inspired flavours; they even have durian, which is what I usually have back in Asia. Kariton Sorbetes by John Rivera; he is truly taking Filipino classics to new heights. We come from the same values and experiences and I am so glad that he is offering top-class flavours that are usually served in restaurants to the public. Il Melograno is another one that I like a lot, from salted macadamia nut to citrus-infused ricotta gelato. Ice-cream is just so magical to me, I don’t think I can ever live without it.
Ned Trumble, Lagoon Dining
Piccolina on Smith Street is my most frequent haunt for that magnificent stuff we call gelato; they have a regular selection that is exceptional, as well as a rotating roster of nuanced and inspired flavours – all delicious. The hankering usually comes on particularly strong during my weekend, sometime after midday on Monday – though it is a craving that shadows me at all times, both waking and sleeping. When I’m unable to swing past for a refuel, or the craving is particularly strong, I implore, beg, and cajole my long-suffering partner to replenish the freezer with emergency supplies. Failing that, the service station on the way home does a mean and very reliable Golden Gaytime.
Raymond Tan, Raya
My ultimate favourite gelato go-to has to be Beku up on Lygon Street. [Founder Agusta Triwahyu] makes the most amazing Southeast Asian flavours that are right up my alley and you can’t find anywhere else … Ketan hitam (black glutinous rice), chendol (a popular street shaved ice) and tolak angin (a very popular minty herbal syrup in Indonesia) are my favourites.
Hamed Allahyari, Cafe Sunshine & Salamatea
Piccolina is the best gelato in the world! My favourite flavours are dark chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio or hazelnut with Nutella topping – usually in a cup but sometimes a cone.
Shingo Tochimoto, Tochi Deli
My favourite place is Luther’s Scoops in Brunswick. They offer a unique, seasonal, well-thought-out menu with quality ingredients. I love their Earl Grey tea [ice-cream] with choc chips. It has a beautiful tea flavour, just the right sweetness and a perfectly balanced texture. It’s rich, creamy, crunchy and chocolatey and yet still has a refreshing aftertaste.
Rosheen Kaul, Etta
Additional reporting by Audrey Payne
This article was originally published on December 2, 2021. It has been updated to reflect new information and remove out-of-date details.