Giapo, Auckland, New Zealand

The traditional scoop (or three) of gelato into a cone or a cup does not give a lot of opportunity for artistic expression. Auckland-based Giapo is one of a new breed of gelaterie that are taking gelato to a whole new level. Is this simply style over substance? Or does the eating experience justify the extra effort? Read on…

While on a recent visit to Auckland, Rose (my host) took me to the heart of the old red light district. Despite being fairly late on a chilly weeknight, Giapo was packed, with a queue snaking out of the door.

It’s not a big place, with only a few seats inside, but more seating is available outside. Earlier this year Giapo moved into these new premises, with the fit-out being a radical departure from that of a traditional gelato counter with rows of tubs or, for a really traditional establishment, pozzetti. In fact, there was no gelato counter at all!

There was a real buzz inside. At the head of the queue, friendly servers were handing out samples and taking orders. Waiting in anticipation for their treats, a crowd of people was milling around.

The kitchen is elevated at the back of the shop. If Rose and I were a little taller, and the crowd a little smaller, we might have seen more of the creation process.

The kitchen at Giapo
The kitchen at Giapo

It seemed a weird system, but there was some sense to it, once you see the complexity of the menu offerings. Scooping gelato, carefully positioning a variety of other elements, even blasting with a blowtorch. Easier to do in a kitchen than on the shop floor. Best to keep that blowtorch away from customers.

Each one of the items on the gelato menu is individually styled. You pick one (or two) flavours, and the “Hold Me” delivery mechanism – cups, various types of cone, Yorkshire pudding, fried bread (it’s a Maori thing) – the gelato is scooped on top and then the decoration is added. Servings are huge – for most people there is no need to add a second flavour.

If the regular menu items are not enough, there are also Whammies (extras) such as sourdough doughnuts or chocolate hearts. Or you can order the Discombobulating items – where Giapo has gone international, involving gelato versions of Canadian poutine, Italian arancina, Japanese gyoza and Indian pani puri.

Without a doubt, the most spectacular item on the menu is the Colossal Squid. Even though the tentacles in this enormous chocolate creation are hollow, I doubted I could do it justice. Especially within two hours of a meal. Best shared between two (or more) people.

Kiss Kiss Kiss from Giapo
Kiss Kiss Kiss – Christchurch hazelnut and Dominican chocolate.

My friendly server offered some samples before I made my choice. The Intense Matcha Oolong would definitely appeal to green tea fans. The dark chocolate from the Chocolate Obsession was decadently rich. I swooned over the Satsuma Mandarin and Capsicum sorbetti – absolutely gorgeous, however the friendly server advised that it can be rather overwhelming in a large serve. Since it was my first visit, I decided to play it safe and ordered a Kiss Kiss Kiss.

My chosen base was Giapo’s regular waffle cone, which is coated on the inside with milk chocolate. The gelato was Christchurch hazelnut (supporting local produce!). This was encased in dark and milk Dominican chocolate. Huge dark chocolate lips were attached, as well as a constellation of candied hazelnuts.

It’s a substantial serving… and tasted amazing. Very intense chocolate, but with the added lightness from the hazelnut.

Giapo Buono
The Giapo Buono – salted caramel gelato with hazelnut praline and crushed amaretti.

Rose ordered what she described as her usual: Giapo Buono. One of Giapo’s most popular items, this is salted caramel gelato, coated with hazelnut praline and crushed amaretti. Then topped with a swirl of Italian meringue and whole bronzed hazelnuts, and caramelised by blowtorch. She opted for one of the regular waffle cones.

Giapo is definitely an extra special indulgence – it is not an everyday gelato, and the prices reflect that. But if you are after a real splurge, it certainly delivers. And next time, I will be ordering the Satsuma Mandarin and Capsicum sorbetti.

Our rating: outstandingAn outstanding gelato experience. Definitely at the luxury end of the gelato spectrum. Servings are large, and the various add-ons can result in an expensive visit. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

12 Gore Street
Auckland 1010
New Zealand

T: +64 9 550 3677

2 Comments to “Giapo, Auckland, New Zealand”

  1. Great review, I’m only surprised it took you so long to find this house of pleasure which has been celebrated in Auckland for several years now. Giapo is not just an amazing place to tantalise the taste buds, but has become an essential a part of Auckland City as the White Lady. There is always something new and exciting, the creativity never stops. i wonder how they even come up with the gastronome ideas. Equally important are the people. They are engaged, passionate and excited for their customers’ perfect experience. Not many retailers or foodies live to serve their customers let alone delight them. It’s not so much a gelaterie as a celebration of life. IMHO

  2. Gelido Author

    There’s nothing like Giapo here in Melbourne! Looking forward to sampling more on our next trip to Auckland… more incentive to return sooner rather than later.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.