The Best Gelaterias In Sydney, According to a Self-Confessed Gelato Snob

I’m a gelato snob, and I’m not ashamed. My fellow family members are gelato snobs, but they have Italian blood running through their veins, so it’s justified. Although olive oil isn’t quite as rich in my blood, I’ve inherited the palate for all things Italian through osmosis, if that can even happen. Either way, I know my gelato, and I know where to find it.

From hosting weekend gelato crawls to taste-testing homemade gelato my godfather makes on a Friday night, it’s safe to say we’re a little gelato obsessed. Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up (not that the cold weather would stop us), we’re all in search of a creamy scoop.

So, here are my favourite scoops of gelato in Sydney.

best gelato sydney
Photo: Mapo

Mapo, Newtown and Bondi

You know a place is good when you drive 30 minutes across the bridge after a dinner party to get gelato, which we’ve done more than once. But the moral of the story here is you can’t go past a scoop or two from Mapo in Newtown. This place is known for its high-quality ingredients, including blending in Pepe Saya butter to create creamy, buttery scoops. The little gelateria, often blocked by lines of people waiting for a scoop, is also dedicated to sustainability. They serve scoops in compostable containers and with compostable spoons. Half of their flavours are dairy-free, and you’ll find all their small batches are freshly churned in the lab at the back. If you peek over the counter, you can see the machines hard at work. Now, if only they would come over to the north shore.

best gelato sydney
Photo: Jess Kneebone

Gelateria Gondola, Chatswood

I have to credit my godfather for introducing me to this little hidden gem a few years ago. Gondola is a pocket-sized, unassuming gelateria run by a friendly Italian man, Luca Zanini. You can often find him dressed head to toe in a red and white gondolier uniform, scooping traditional gelato and sorbet. The kitchen is open, so you can watch as they make the gelato from pistachio siciliana to panna cotta and other melt-in-your-mouth flavours. The secret is the vertical gelato maker, only one of few in Australia. The technology is from 1972 and is capable of chilling the gelato to temperatures colder than modern technology. It’s mechanically worked with a paddle by a gelato maker, which means they can only make six litres at a time. The flavours change, but they always have a certain amount of classic flavours available.

best gelato sydney
Photo: RivaReno

RivaReno, Multiple Locations

Enjoy gelato the Sicilian Way at RivaReno. They have locations dotted all over the city, and every single one you walk into has the gelato covered in stainless steel containers, also known as ‘pozetti.’ This means you don’t get to see all the bright, wonderful colours, but it’s the way they do it in Sicily and keeps the flavour fresh and texture silky. There are over 30 flavours, from walnut and black liquorice to ricotta and caramelised fig. They’re always tinkering away in the lab, creating new flavours. For the RivaReno experience, be sure to top your scoop with a generous drizzle of gianduia (chocolate and hazelnut).

best gelato sydney
Photo: Zini

Zini Contemporary Gelateria, Circular Quay

At first, I was sceptical of Zini. When you start putting pesto in gelato — I have questions. But then I met owner Matteo, and I tasted his gelato and fell in love (with the gelato). When it comes to innovation, he’s the brightest mind in the business. Think mushroom gelato with truffles. Zini even does gelato degustations, where you can have anywhere between five to eight gelatos in one sitting. It’s not your usual tiramisu or salted caramel, either. They usually have a theme, like his Asian degustation, which surprised gelato lickers with coconut pandan gelato or the truffle night, which saw us eating a custard yolky gelato with truffle shavings. If you want something classic, he has those too, and a must-try blue vanilla, which is a twist on vanilla but is made with butterfly pea flowers. To this day, I can’t describe the flavour, but it’s unlike any vanilla I’ve had before.

best gelato sydney
Photo: Ciccone and Sons

Ciccone and Sons, Redfern and Glebe

This classic Italian gelateria uses simple ingredients and a traditional method to churn out their well-known scoops, made in-house, of course. What sets them apart is the use of Jersey milk, naturally superior milk that comes from purebred Jersey cows, resulting in velvety and silky smooth gelato. The shop itself is a lounge room to the past. Expect a long thin room, few chairs to sit on, rock ‘n’ roll blasting through the stereo, and batch freezers at the back. It almost feels like you’re in a gelateria in Italy, hidden on a cobblestone street. If only, but for now, you can get a taste of Italy at Ciccone and Sons in Redfern.

best gelato sydney
Photo: Cow and the Moon

Cow and The Moon, Enmore and Wollongong

This family-run gelateria in Newtown has been making gelato on-site for ten years, and yet, there are still lines, some around the corner, of people waiting to get their hands on a scoop or tub. They have 26 flavours each day, but the most famous flavour is their Mandorla affogato. It won World’s Best Gelato at 2014’s Gelato World Tour in Rimini, Italy and continues to lead from the top. They also make gelato cakes from the many flavours they have on their list. Their most creative flavours include banana salted caramel, elderberry, lychee and coconut.

best gelato sydney
Photo: Gelato Messina

Gelato Messina, Multiple Locations

I can’t forget about the always reliable Gelato Messina. You’re never far from a Messina, and yes, that’s a good thing. The humble little shop started a craze, which grew to 19 stores across NSW, VIC, NT, QLD, and ACT. Even though they are a chain, they don’t mass produce flavour pastes or have pre-made bases; instead, they stick to their original daily-made method, boasting 35 traditional flavours and five rotating weekly specials. For the specials, expect banana and passionfruit, strawberry gelato and pistachio fudge, and a banana split gelato. They also make a range of cakes, which I have for my birthday every year. The Bombe Alaska deserves a special shout-out!

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