On a mild sunny day, is there really anything better than treating yourself to an ice-cream? The process of it is such a simple pleasure, choosing your flavour and savouring the joy that overcomes you as the scoop melts and you clean up the drips off the cone with delicate licks.
But the culmination of culinary excellence and innovation in Melbourne over recent years has seen us presented with a wealth of options. Not only are we bombarded with new venues sprouting up like wild flowers, each boasting their own unique spin on the classic sweet treat, but we are now presented with an overload of flavours, often unique and quirky.
Gone are the days of deciding between chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Now we are met with glorious combinations of salted caramel, peanut butter and pretzel, pandan and coconut or orange infused ricotta. We can have our ice-cream frozen in front of our face with liquid nitrogen, we can choose between whipped cream and/or Nutella from a tap, and we can even stuff our favourite flavours in a cone, cup, cannoli or brioche bun. Can’t decide? Why not get a litre of your faves to go, and eat your way through it while you Netflix and chill?
Even in my immediate surrounds of Smith and Brunswick Streets, there is in excess of 15 ice-creameries, simply begging me to try their unique and scrumptious wares.
So, I caved, and this summer I made it my mission to eat my way through them all.
Here is an analysis of my top 3
381 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
The new Sicilian kid on the block. You will usually find the owner, Carl, scooper in hand, spooning out samples to people in the cue as he serves up his traditional family recipes on Italian time; slow and steady, and talking the entire time. Carl and his partner Marco are from ‘il Melograno’ fame, an equally successful and renown ice-creamery in Northcote. Their list of flavours is small, but it’s always incredibly difficult to make a decision – with flavours like ‘Rosemary and Chocolate and Salted Macadamia’, I make sure I get involved in Carl’s generous flavour sampling offers as we wait patiently for our turn. Compá is proud to offer vegan options, including a vegan cone, and creates all their own gelatos in house, right down to grinding their own nuts. They also offer sorbets and Sicilian Granita – let’s be honest, add that to the fact you can have your ice cream served in a brioche bun, a cannolo or under a bath of Nutella, and there really is something for everyone. After being convinced by Carl, I had the vegan Hazelnut and the Fior di Latte in a cannolo. Nom. But the stand out for me at Compá? Definitely the service. Carl’s passion is just as genuine as the ingredients in his traditional recipes, and I look forward to seeing the new specials and flavours roll out over the coming months, even if I have to don my beanie and gloves to get there.
299 Lygon Street, Carlton
At 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, you can imagine my excitement when one of my absolute favourites opened a summer pop up a short stroll away at Laser Pig on Peel Street in Collingwood. The Lygon Street Pidapipó has long been a favourite of mine, and it’s my choice place to head to when I’m feeling in need of the extra calories added on via the drenching of Nutella and cloud of whipped cream. But the thing I love most about their pop up at Laser Pig? The petit menu that only offers punters a choice between Nutella Swirl (their most popular flavour and certainly my go-to), Pistachio, Salted Caramel and Nectarine Sorbet; in a cup or cone. Simple. Unlike Compá, Pidapipó Lygon have a slightly more elaborate menu, and it can often be overwhelming to pick a flavour. This pop up has solved that issue for me – and I happily enjoyed my Nutella Swirl and Salted Caramel. Both were rich and creamy without being sickly sweet, and I savoured every moment I spent happily indulging in my sweet treats.
265 Smith Street, Collingwood
Piccolina Naturale Gelato boasts a 100% natural range and are happy to prove they have nothing to hide by having an open kitchen where we can see them churning their ice cream with pureed fruits and roasted nuts, following traditional family recipes. Like Compá, Piccolina has a small menu but still somehow manages to make it difficult to decide on your poison. They say that a sure sign of natural ingredients is when the ice cream is contained in metal drums and fully submerged in the fridge, often accessed by a lid to ensure the natural flavours are preserved; all top three ice-creameries tick this off the ‘must have’ list. My go to here at Piccolina is the ‘Stracciatella and the Mint’. The ice cream at Piccolina’s would have to be the most creamiest, silkiest, dreamiest out there, and they also offer the cheeky extra of Nutella or whipped cream. Piccolina also makes divine ice cream cakes and jars of their home made ‘peanut butter’ and ‘better than Nutella’ spreads. The crew there go wild over crafting inventions like their ‘Lamington Gelato cake’ for Australia day and their special beer flavoured creations for good beer week. With amazing décor and gorgeous staff who remember your face (not sure if this is a good or a bad thing…) and cones that are just the right amount of sweet, Piccolina is still my all-time favourite after a hard summer full of various samples…
And it may or may not have anything to do with the fact that it’s 20 meters from my apartment.
Feature Image Credit:Piccolina Gelateria Collingwood Facebook Page