Up at the top end of town in Spring Street is a little scoop of gelato heaven. At Gelateria Primavera a combination of traditional techniques and innovative flavours produces some of the best gelato anywhere in Melbourne.
Close by the Princess Theatre, Gelateria Primavera is at the entrance of the Spring Street Grocer, a fine food store with an impressive cheese cellar.
Inside the gelateria a sweep of terrazzo leads to the gleaming marble counter and its rows of lidded pozzetti. The gelato is made fresh onsite each day. No additives, just natural ingredients and seasonal fruit, so the old-style pozzetti containers are used to keep the gelato fresh by reducing its exposure to the air.
Handwritten on a scroll of brown paper, the day’s gelato menu changes regularly. With around 16 flavours, there is a mix of the classics (like fior di latte) and not-so-traditional (such as saffron with candied pear and roasted pinenuts), as well as dairy free options (sorbetti).
The gelato is served in cups or cones, in small (one flavour), medium (up to three flavours) or large (up to four flavours). Take home tubs are also available.
At Gelateria Primavera I normally opt for a medium in a cup. The decadently rich Bahen & Co dark chocolate sorbetto is always tempting but on my most recent visit I was in the mood for something a little lighter.
The first of my flavours was cardamom and roasted pistachio – a beautiful nuttiness complemented with a subtle spiciness. Second flavour: blackberry and watermelon sorbetto – the freshness of the watermelon was lifted by the sweetness from the berries. Third flavour: lemon and lemongrass sorbetto – super tangy, with the lemongrass adding extra depth to a gelato classic. All were outstanding.
According to my friendly server, gelato should be eaten on the same day it is made, but is at its absolute best within two hours of churning. In fact gelato was traditionally intended for immediate consumption. Without the additives used to prolong shelf life, after two hours the gelato structure starts to collapse – even if stored in pozzetti. And he demonstrated this with two samples. Both the flavours I tasted – white chocolate with lavender, and chocolate (the dairy version) – were excellent. The one that had been loaded into its pozzetti only moments before had a gorgeous velvety smooth texture. Stunning. The other – made earlier that day – was still very good, but the difference in texture was obvious.
If you are after something other than gelato, there are also cold pressed juices, non-dairy smoothies and coffee from the gleaming espresso machine. And as it is open until quite late (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays or 11pm on other nights), Gelateria Primavera is ideal for a post-theatre treat. But be prepared: cash only.
Outstanding traditional-style artisan gelato re-imagined with not-so-traditional flavour combinations.
157 Spring Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
T: (03) 9639 0335