Melbournians enjoy great gelato. Superb local artisan gelaterie such as Gelateria Primavera, Gelocchio and Il Melograno have been established by Italian immigrants, their children and grandchildren. Italian-based gelaterie are also expanding internationally, and a couple have already launched in Australia. RivaReno in Sydney is one, Lavezzi in Ringwood is another.
The Lavezzi family have been making gelato in Italy since 1870. Based in Formia – a city halfway between Rome and Naples – the family opened its first gelateria outside Italy here in Melbourne, in the Eastland Shopping Centre.
Eastland’s Town Square – an open air piazza – has an array of on-trend dining venues. Burgers from Huxtaburger, Greek street food from Jimmy Grant’s, French patisserie from Brioche by Philip, Mexican from Paco’s Tacos, pizza from 400 Gradi East… the list goes on. And gelato from Lavezzi.
With huge windows on two sides, the atmosphere inside the gelateria is bright and airy. The sunshine yellow espresso machine (yes, they do coffee) adds a splash of colour. A charming old photograph of a Lavezzi gelato cart covers the rear wall. Seating is available, both inside and outside.
We’ve visited Lavezzi a couple of times, and have not been disappointed. Lavezzi prides itself on making everything in-house daily from raw ingredients. Not just gelato, but also cakes and cannoli. On the other side of the kitchen window I spotted a gelato chef, armed with a microplane, tackling a huge mound of lemons. That’s a lot of lemon zest. And very reassuring that fresh lemons are used.
According to our friendly server, the gelato chefs are always devising new concoctions. The classic flavours are well represented, with others varying with the seasons, as well as some special occasion gelato – lamington, milo and tim tam gelati for Australia Day last year, gelato filled panettone for Christmas. Both dairy and non-dairy options are available, served in cups or cones – regular waffle cones or special cones dipped in chocolate with nuts or sprinkles. You can also get gelato shakes and tubs of gelato to take away.
Every time we have visited, Lavezzi has been super busy. Mirrors over the gelato cabinets let you see the full range of flavours even if the gelateria is crowded – a nice touch. In those situations we don’t think it is fair to slow down service by asking for samples, so we keep the taste testing to a minimum.
I picked hazelnut gelato paired with mixed berry sorbetto in a cup. Both had beautiful creamy textures. The hazelnut had a great nutty flavour and was studded with hazelnut chunks. The sorbetto was an excellent contrast – gorgeous fruity taste.
Benny thoroughly enjoyed his tropical sorbetto in a plain waffle cone. Tropical is a mix of fruit which varies depending on the season. It definitely had a pineapple component. He also sampled the raspberry and passionfruit pavlova, which he described as very smooth and creamy.
Word is that another Lavezzi outlet will be opening in Carlton very soon.
Eastland Shopping Centre
Level 3, Shop R02
Ringwood Vic 3134
T: (03) 8845 9110