“This is gelato at the beginning,” says Il Melograno owner Carl Fodera as he scoops out stretchy gelato from a frozen, silver well. There are no mountains of colour, or perfectly rounded scoops at this gourmet gelataria, just pure, unadulterated flavour.
After 10 years in Italy, Fodera was ready to come home to Melbourne, but wanted to bring the authentic taste of Sicily back with him. He set out to learn the traditional art of gelato making, but numerous attempts to learn the craft failed when families refused to divulge their secrets to making the country’s signature dessert.
Il Melograno translates to “The Pomegranate Tree”, a symbol in traditional Italian culture for health, prosperity and luck. It might have been the luck part that introduced Fodera to the Enea family, who are purists of gelato in Palermo, Sicily, and who took him under their wing.
“They don’t use any artificial flavouring, colouring or commercial essences and no preservatives, just like we don’t. They’ve been doing it for forever and know how to do it well,” says Fodera. Due to the lack of preservatives, the gelato cannot be out on display. Instead, Il Melograno keeps the dessert hidden under pot lids in an airtight chamber called pozzetti, which preserves the flavour and prevents the natural gelato from disintegrating. The result is a pulled, creamy dessert with a concentrated flavour that does justice to its ingredients with accuracy of flavour and texture.
Fodera works alongside Marco Enea, a third-generation gelato maker. The duo strive to stay true to how gelato was intended to be made, while adding their own spin to the flavours.
“Every one of our flavours has been calibrated so the sugars are perfectly balanced, so you’re not getting a massive sugar fix. It leaves your palate nice and creamy afterwards,” says Fodera.
With a rotation of seasonal flavours, Il Melograno is carving a niche in creative fusions. Alongside the standard hazelnut gelato and lemon sorbet, there are flavours such as chocolate and rosemary, pear and elderflower and Iranian pistachio, all handmade on site.
Now that the warmer weather is coming, Fodera is looking forward to opening up the rest of the gelataria soon, extending into a wood-roasting room for coffee, an outdoor dining area at the back and a petite courtyard.
76 High Street, Northcote
(03) 9482 2092
Tue to Sun 11am–10.30pm