We love the original Piccolina gelateria in Hawthorn – we’ve been regular visitors ever since it opened. Outstanding gelati, including what Benny claims is the best coconut gelato in Melbourne.
So a visit to Piccolina’s new flagship gelateria was long overdue. Opened in October 2017, the Collingwood gelateria is enormous, much larger than the tiny Hawthorn store, and now makes all the gelati for both stores.
Collingwood has a totally different aesthetic to the all-blue Hawthorn gelateria. Inspired by 1950s Italy, the colour palette has shifted to dark green and pistachio. Original architectural features have been highlighted, such as the brickwork and arch, terrazzo floor and pressed metal ceiling. Clad in deep green tiles, the long, long counter holds the pozzetti – lidded containers for the gelato.
Despite the size, there is a tangible sense of inclusiveness and community. The friendly servers actively engage with the customers, and you can watch the gelato chefs at work from the long bar counter overlooking the spacious kitchen. More seating is available along both walls as well as outside on the footpath.
Piccolina’s menu has core group of about a dozen regular gelato (dairy-based) flavours, plus a handful of non-dairy (vegan) sorbetti. There is also an ever-changing list of special flavours. Normally the menu includes some granita but our friendly server said that this will come back when the weather gets a bit warmer. Large freezer cabinets have a rotating display of spectacular gelato cakes.
Everything is made in-house, using traditional techniques from all-natural ingredients – no pre-mixes, artificial colours or flavours, preservatives, thickeners or stabilisers. That includes making its own nut butters – our friendly server said that the aroma from the kitchen on days when the nuts are being roasted is wonderful. And there is Piccolina’s own “Better Than Nutella” – either in gelato form or on tap.
The gelato is stored in lidded pozzetti, to retain freshness – essential for gelato made in the traditional way with no preservatives.
Our friendly servers swirled and twirled the gelato into generous snowy peaks – so even before we tasted we could see that the texture had that incredible elasticity of outstanding gelato.
I chose a traditional favourite, pistachio, which I paired with one of the specials, cheesecake cherry. The latter was excellent, studded with whole cherries, and had a beautiful lightness (definitely not a heavy cheesy mixture).
Of course Benny picked his favourite coconut gelato, which he combined with a dark chocolate sorbetto. Why does Benny like this coconut so much? The gelato is based on fresh coconut and is generously studded with chunks of tender coconut flesh. For us dark chocolate tragics, the rich dark chocolate sorbetto is another favourite that uses top quality ingredients – we spotted sacks of Callebaut couverture chocolate in the kitchen.
Even in the middle of winter, Piccolina was busy with a steady stream of customers. Being able to enjoy our gelato in comfort indoors was much appreciated!
Piccolina Gelateria Naturale
296 Smith Street
Collingwood Vic 3066
T: (03) 8456 0071