In the mid-‘90s Franco Riservato was squeezing lemons for the gelato maker at Bar Italia. He was saving money for a trip to Italy he never ended up going on. He was offered a job as a gelato maker and worked there for 21 years. Now, as the owner of Gelato Franco, he makes it his way. Still with real, fresh ingredients.
This old-school gelataria on Marrickville Road is the only shopfront with wood-paneled windows opening to the street, fresh tiling and no sign. The antique machine he uses only has a small capacity, so it’s a lot of extra work for Riservato, but he doesn’t mind because it forces him to keep the gelato fresh.
There are 15 flavours, roughly 10 classics and five rotating styles that depend on both the season and Riservato’s fancy. He’s made an espresso sorbet for his mum, who misses the icy granitas of southern Italy. Try the dense, almost pulpy banana; chocolate that tastes like childhood; and a velvety pannacotta splashed with a burnt-caramel syrup, all of which are creamy and authentic representations of their core ingredients.
Riservato is joined in the kitchen by his mum, Donata. Riservato is training her to make gelato, but in the meantime she’s making Italian cakes and biscotti. One of her specialities is sfingi, an Italian doughnut ball that’s deep-fried with cinnamon.