It is a truth universally acknowledged that Sydneysiders can’t get more than two licks into any ice-cream without comparing it to Gelato Messina. They’re fanatical about it. Today – with the brand’s first WA store opening in Highgate – Western Australians will get to see if Gelato Messina lives up to the hype.
Starting 20 years ago from a single Sydney shopfront, the gelato outfit has outposts up and down the east coast (and in Hong Kong), its own dairy farm in country Victoria, a bakery in Darlinghurst and over a quarter of a million followers on Instagram.
Speaking to Broadsheet, co-owner Declan Lee said the move to WA has been “a long time coming” but they had always been constrained by transport and the challenge of finding ways to move fresh and refrigerated ingredients across the country.
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“After we opened in Hong Kong and figured out how to get our ingredients over there, we realised we could apply those systems to Perth, which is pretty cool because Perth is actually so far away,” says Lee.
The gelato will be made using all the same high-quality ingredients from the east coast stores, but some of the pasteurisation and churning will take place on-site in a raised open kitchen, giving customers a chance to see the gelato-making process up close.
The Highgate store sits in a prominent corner spot – not too far from Mary Street Bakery. The store’s fit-out is sleek with a pistachio feature wall, a curved white counter, gold pendant lighting, crazy flagstone pavers leading out to the street and recessed arches housing Messina merch and whimsical celebration cakes (think a Mario-esque mushroom and a cow-print buche).
Messina has previously hosted limited pop-ups at Perth festivals, but Lee is excited for Western Australians to finally get the chance to “taste the width and breadth of the classic range”. The cloud-shaped cabinet will house 40 flavours – 35 classics and five specials rotating weekly.
For the opening week, Messina Highgate will be serving a “Rotto buns” special – a cream bun gelato with whipped cream and raspberry puree. “It feels like every city does their own version of a cream bun,” says Lee. “One of our employees is from Perth and she was telling us about the buns on Rottnest and we thought we should do something with that in mind.”
For the Messina team, this is just the first step. They are keen to involve themselves in the local scene, collaborate with local businesses and open new locations down the line because “once you open one, it tends to take off,” says Lee.
Gelato Messina Highgate
497 Beaufort Street, Highgate