Best Ice-Cream and Gelato in Melbourne

Updated 1 month ago

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In Melbourne, gelato is more prevalent than ice-cream (learn the difference between the two here) due to so many Italians moving here after World War II. But strangely enough, it was hard to find real gelato as recently as ten years ago. Most shops were still using cheap pastes produced in factories, rather than making their gelato from scratch.

All the spots below are committed to doing things the right way. Hint: look for pozzetti, the lidded, refrigerated pots which protect fragile gelato from oxidisation. Any shop with a glass case full of perky mounds has almost certainly given its gelato the equivalent of a boob job.

One last thing: if you’re looking to compare the skills of two different shops, order a scoop of pistachio. It’s the industry’s universal benchmark.

  • Anyone who's somehow not acquainted with Pidapipo may be tempted to write it off as touristy or overpriced. Don't. Pidapipo deserves every metre of the long lines it generates, and its gelato is unquestionably some of Melbourne's best. Joining stores in Carlton, Windsor and the CBD is the “laboratorio”, a dessert destination with a chocolate room, a pasticceria offering, gelato cakes and a rooftop honey operation. Plus, experimental scoops you won’t find elsewhere.

  • The original Piccolina is in Hawthorn, but this is unquestionably the brand's headquarters. Enter for fresh and simple Italian gelato made the old-fashioned way. The gelato here is revered for a reason, but keep an eye out for the excellent range of cakes and other treats on offer too.

  • This farm-to-freezer ice-creamery has a pastry chef behind the counter who’s done time in a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants. Inventive seasonal flavours are added weekly, so there’s always something new to try.

  • This Filipino-inspired ice-creamery by two top Melbourne chefs is scooping vibrant, textural flavours like ube, cheese and crème caramel. It's a relative newcomer to the city's ice-cream scene, but it's already making big, creamy waves. A second location is now open in Chinatown.

  • This retro ice-creamery is more steeped in kitschy Australiana than a Golden Gaytime ad from the ’70s. It's by a chef with Michelin-star pedigree, where favourites such as pistachio and chocolate are joined by scoops that might be flavoured with lemon myrtle, coffee and wattleseed. Plus, there are hot chips for dipping.

  • A pistachio-coloured gelateria from Coda and Tonka's Adam D'Sylva. In pozzetti beneath the colourful terrazzo countertop, there are rotating specials that might include tiramisu and Basque burnt cheesecake; flavours inspired by the chef's Italian-Indian heritage (sugared almond, and spicy chai); and a few very welcome curveballs.

  • Owner Emma Nicholas-Jennis grew up in a gelato store. So she's spent most of her life making – and scooping – gelato. So it should come as little surprise that the gelato here is some of the best in town. All of the flavours here are worthwhile, but if you see the burnt fig – go for it.

  • This gelato shop takes its cues from Southeast Asia, rather than Italy. Past flavours on owner Agusta Triwahyu's eclectic menu have included durian, lychee, Turkish Delight and even Malaysian condensed-milk tea.

  • Sydney's favourite gelato chain is just as popular in Melbourne. Sometimes going for an ice-cream here – with the big crowds, cool staff and house music blaring – feels more like waiting in line at nightclub. It would almost be frustrating, if the gelato here weren't so good.

  • Four generations of experience gives this traditional gelato, sorbet and granita shop a leg up. Plus, its location on a (relatively) quieter part of Lygon Street means that you'll rarely have to queue here.

  • This Preston gelateria combines traditional techniques with experimental flavours such as matcha, coconut and gorgonzola. No need to worry if you’re just after a classic flavour though – they’re here as well. Be sure to check out the other sweets on offer too.

  • A father-and-son team is serving up tartufo, plus scoops of house-made salty Snickers, fior de banana and "Franjaffico" gelato. And there’s gelato-filled cannoli, too. And just like any good gelato shop worth its scoops, it's all prepared from scratch and churned daily.

  • Classic flavours made with the highest-quality ingredients possible are the draw at this ice-creamery. Pop in for scoops of house-made honeycomb, mint and milk chocolate, and more. Plus: milkshakes, sundaes, ice-cream sandwiches and good coffee.

  • At this frozen desserts store by pastry chef Christy Tania, bestselling ice-creams include the pavlova and cookies and cream flavours. But don’t miss out on the range of ice-cream cakes, babkas and macarons either.

  • In addition to oodles of gelato flavours, this gelateria has one of the best ranges of semifreddos in Melbourne. The tiramisu and tartufo both look great, but our eyes are set squarely upon the Meno Rocher: a giant, gelato-filled take on a Ferrero Rocher.

  • Dondurma is a type of stretchy, Turkish ice-cream. And it’s pretty hard to find in Melbourne. Cuppa Turca specialises in the stuff. If you want a break from gelato but still want to scratch that sweet, frozen itch, this is your pick. Plus there’s colourful Turkish delights and shatteringly crisp baklava.

  • Gelato and wine. Need we say more? This city gelateria is the perfect option if you find yourself in the CBD on a sweltering day. The wine is good and so's the coffee, but it's the gelato that keeps us coming back.

  • The gelato-focused spin-off of 400 Gradi pizzeria has an ample roster of classic flavours to choose from. Add some cannoli to your order while you’re at it.

  • The roller door goes up mid-morning at this sun-drenched Japanese eatery, and it’s worth getting in early to secure your picnic-ready bento box and Japanese-inspired gelato. Once you do, take your spoils across the street and enjoy in Lincoln Square.

  • At this coral-coloured ice-creamery, an ex-Coda chef serves Japanese-inspired flavours that really run the gamut. There’s tart fuji apple, creamy matcha pistachio and interesting savoury options like nori and sweet potato.

  • This gelateria, perched next to City Wine Shop and Spring Street Grocer, is a contender for having the best gelato in town. The ingredients are high quality, seasonal flavours range from classic to strange, and the pozzetti cabinets keep the preservative-free gelato nice and fresh.

  • This gelateria (originally named for the Willy Wonka character Augustus Gloop, who knew a thing or two about sweets) is open 365 days of the year, with over 30 flavours, including a number of buffalo-milk gelati. Now with more than 20 locations across the state.

  • At this long-standing bayside favourite, you'll be transported from Black Rock to the heart of Italy with just one lick of this artisan gelato. Flavour-wise, there’s the usual suspects but if you’re after something a little extra, then the elaborate ice-cream cakes are your go.

  • This ice-creamery – believe it or not, owned by a man called Jock – has consistently been one of Melbourne's best ever since opening back in 2001. That's down to the quality of the ingredients. There are plenty of flavours, but it's hard to look past the Hokey Pokey and Chocolate – it's a bestseller.

  • Order scoops of colourful pan-Asian gelato and sorbet at this family-run shop. The salted cumquat follows a family recipe, while the Kopiko pays homage to a beloved Indonesian coffee lolly. There’s also Vietnamese coffee (served hot or cold) and Aussie-style brews.

  • Slide into this family-run gelateria for scoops of classic Italian gelati (like fior di latte and pistachio) alongside more experimental takes like pancake or pumpkin pie. Plus, find dairy-free sorbet and creamy cakes to go.

  • The floor is quite literally paved with sour-strap lollies. The flavours include grape Aeroplane Jelly, Vegemite-white choc and smoked Cherry Ripe. And you can go on a sampling spree before you commit to any one scoop.

  • This fruit-forward gelateria fights fruit waste with every scoop. Find experimental specials – like lamington and coconut sesame caramel – alongside classics such as pistachio and the crowd-favourite Snickers. Plus, choc-tops, ice-cream cakes and plenty of dairy-free options.