The Best Ice-Cream and Gelato in Sydney

Updated 2 weeks ago

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Gelato and ice-cream are both made by mixing milk, sugar and cream (and sometimes, eggs) until smooth, but they’re not quite the same thing. Ice-cream contains ten to 25 per cent fat. It’s churned quickly to incorporate more air, then served relatively cold. The aim here is superior richness and a full, creamy mouthfeel.

Gelato is more of a vehicle for highlighting the fresh fruits and nuts it’s flavoured with. The denser Italian treat is churned more slowly than ice cream, and contains less air and fat (five to 10 per cent). It’s also served warmer, bringing those added flavours to the fore.

On a hot day, we don't really mind which one's on offer, so long as it's made with care, using high-quality milk and fresh ingredients. All the places on this list do that, and most also leave out the preservatives, stabilisers and artificial colours usually found at the supermarket, too.

  • No pre-made bases, no paste flavouring from cans. Everything at this classic Italian gelateria is made from scratch – besides the Jersey milk, whole nuts and fresh fruit. Take a seat on the wooden benches and enjoy a scoop with an espresso to the cool jazz soundtrack. Also in Glebe and Penrith.

  • Top chefs including Quay’s Peter Gilmore and Nomad’s Jacqui Challinor rate Rivareno’s gelato as their favourite in town. We can’t blame them. At every one of its gelaterias in Europe and Sydney (there are now four and counting), flavours including pistachio and lemon are made in-house on the day they’re sold.

  • Cow & Moon was crowned the world's best gelateria back in 2014, even beating out the Italian competition. It’s still one of Sydney's best – and most popular – spots for gelato. The 26 flavours are made on-site and include a great selection of dairy-free (and occasionally boozy) options.

  • With locations all over the country (and one in Hong Kong), Sydney-born Messina is the definition of a runaway success. Despite the scale, the flavours, quality of ingredients and attention to detail have, if anything, improved over the years. It even uses milk from its own dedicated Jersey farm in rural Victoria.

  • A fun, contemporary take on a traditional Italian gelateria. Seasonally inspired, preservative-free recipes are the bottom line here, and a scoop of the fior de latte is a must. Its Bondi location is positioned right across from the beach.

  • Popcorn miso caramel. Yuzu peach pavlova. Hong Kong milk tea. These aren't flavours you'll find at any old Sydney gelateria. But this tiny spot isn't your average. Artisan gelato maker Terrence Seeto has worked in some of Sydney's best kitchens, and his penchant for flavour, texture and colour is on show here.

  • An old-school Italian gelateria by a Bar Italia veteran. This place uses an antique machine to churn out its seasonal gelatos and sorbettos, which means batches are usually small – but they’re incredibly fresh and don’t last long. Biscotti and cakes are also on the menu.

  • A sleek gelateria and espresso bar that loves to push the envelope with its flavours. While pesto doesn't instantly come to mind when you think of gelato, a scoop of the signature blue vanilla is a must. It's traditionally flavoured but – coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers.

  • Western Sydney’s best gelateria happens to live inside a sprawling shopping centre. Its 40-plus flavours are churned daily using seasonal ingredients, with past highlights such as New York cheesecake to a vegan-friendly, sugar-free hazelnut.

  • The crowds gathered outside Hakiki every night of the week go for one thing: sweet and stretchy Turkish ice-cream made to a traditional recipe. If not, it has to be the baklava and strong coffee, served till late.

  • A Sicilian cafe and gelateria focused on tradition rather than innovation. It’s all about the classics here – expect quintessential Italian flavours such as hazelnut, coffee, lemon and vanilla. It’s also one of the only spots around serving zesty, Sicilian-style lemon granita.

  • Gondola is the passion project of two Venetian gelato-makers. So naturally their place is a love letter to Venice, from the red-and-white gondola uniforms to the paddles used to churn the gelato. A machine from 1927 – the only one of its kind in Sydney – is the real star of the show.

  • As well as serving stellar Italian seafood dishes, Ormeggio makes all its gelato in-house. The short selection of flavours is served with indulgent additions: peanut brittle with the yoghurt flavour, and meringue with the lemon sorbet.