Gelato Messina, Richmond

Gelato Messina is undoubtedly a star of the Australian gelato world. From modest beginnings in Darlinghurst in 2002, there are now 11 Gelato Messina stores across Sydney and three in Melbourne, as well as outlets in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the United States.

Gelato Messina makes great gelato, with a huge variety of traditional-style gelato on its regular menu, including both dairy and non-dairy options. But many Messina fans like to seek out the weekly specials. These specials are typically wacky over-the-top indulgences, often with equally wacky names. The specials are available for only seven days (or until sold out), but may return after a few months.

Gelato Messina - 1985 (coconut gelato with cherry jam and chocolate chips)
One of the weekly specials: 1985, or coconut gelato with cherry jam and chocolate chips.

Someone in Gelato Messina’s creative department clearly goes nuts when devising (and naming) those weekly specials. In the past we have seen some truly bizarre results, with our vote for the ultimate benchmark on the crazy scale going to The Chicken Cave on Tapleys Hill Road. For those unfamiliar with Adelaide, the gelato was named after a fast food place in one of that city’s western suburbs. Benny just had to try it – so what did it taste like? Somehow Gelato Messina had extracted essence of fried potato and put it into gelato form. A remarkable achievement, but did we want to eat a gelato that tasted like chips? No way.

Coming up with new flavours every week and pushing the boundaries of gelato possibilities is a demanding task. Maybe some concoctions don’t work quite so well as others, but nonetheless the creative team is doing an amazing job.

While each store churns its own gelato every day, the flavourings are pre-mixed in liquid form and delivered to the stores from “the factory”. Every element is made by Gelato Messina from natural ingredients. No colourings, preservatives or ready-made flavourings.

The gelato is served in cups or cones – one, two or three scoops. Or you can take away tubs – 0.5, 1 or 1.5 litres. For something really special, there is a range of amazing gelato cakes, but these must be ordered in advance.

The weekly specials at Gelato Messina
The weekly specials at Gelato Messina. Key Lime Pie is all gone!

Our latest visit to Gelato Messina aimed to catch one of the weekly specials: Key Lime Pie. Lime curd gelato, gingernut crust, lime curd and fresh meringue. Sounded awesome – we love the combination of fresh lime and ginger. But when we rocked up to the Richmond store we discovered Key Lime Pie had sold out. We were crushed.

Instead Benny selected one of the other weekly specials: 1985, served in a waffle cone. This was coconut gelato with cherry jam and chocolate chips. He was very happy – it’s a winning combination.

I chose two of the regular flavours: raspberry sorbet, paired with coconut and almond. The raspberry was fantastic – beautiful texture and a dense fruity taste. I love fresh raspberries – roll on summer and trips to the U-Pick berry farms. But the coconut and almond was a disappointment. It was dominated by a very bitter taste from the generous number of whole almonds studding the gelato. Traditional amaretti recipes include a small amount of bitter almonds which give the biscuits a distinctive taste. Did Gelato Messina use real bitter almonds, or were the almonds past their best? Whatever the cause, the bitterness was just way too strong and unpleasant, totally drowning out the coconut.

Gelato Messian - raspberry sorbet paired with coconut and almond
Raspberry sorbet paired with coconut and almond

Would this experience put me off returning to Gelato Messina? Not at all. But next time I will make sure I sample the gelato before committing to an order.

Our rating: excellentWith a large menu and continual innovation, Gelato Messina offers an ever-changing gelato experience. Try to avoid peak times so you can select your gelato in a more relaxed atmosphere – it can get very crowded.

Gelato Messina
164 Swan Street
Richmond Vic 3121

T: (03) 9428 6288

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