Piccolina Gelateria Naturale, Hawthorn

My memory of our first visit to Piccolina is of passionfruit. Whole crate-loads of the fruit were being scooped out, filling the tiny store with a gorgeous aroma. That was just after Piccolina opened two years ago and we have been regular visitors ever since. Mostly because Benny reckons Piccolina has the best coconut gelato in Melbourne (he has recently conceded that Gelocchio is also a serious contender for best coconut).

All the gelato was made in-house each day, in small batches from raw ingredients and using traditional techniques. Everything was 100% natural – no pre-mixes, artificial colours or flavours, preservatives, thickeners or stabilisers.

Things have moved on since then. In October last year Piccolina opened a new, much larger gelateria in Collingwood, which now supplies all the gelato for the original Hawthorn store as well. “What if you run out?” I asked our friendly server. She smiled and said they were very good at estimating what they needed for the day.

Vivid blue in Piccolina's Hawthorn gelateria
Vivid blue in Piccolina’s Hawthorn gelateria is reminiscent of summer by the sea.

The disadvantage of course is that Hawthorn customers will miss out on the awesome velvety texture of just-churned gelato. Gelato made on the same day is still very good, but we know from experience that it is at its absolute best within a couple of hours of being made.

I love the vivid blue interior at Piccolina Hawthorn – it reminds me of summer by the sea. Did I mention that the Hawthorn store is very small? Room for just a handful of seats inside, and a few more outside on the footpath. It can get very crowded…

Flavours tend towards the traditional, which Piccolina does exceptionally well – no over-the-top extravagances here. In keeping with its traditional techniques all the gelato is stored in round lidded pozzetti, to retain freshness. The menu has a core group of about a dozen regular gelati (dairy-based) flavours, plus a handful of non-dairy (vegan) sorbetti. Also on the menu is an ever-changing list of special flavours, granita, shakes and of course the awesome gelato cakes…

Some of the gelato cakes from Piccolina
There are several different gelato cakes available from Piccolina. Blowtorched meringue always looks spectacular.

The gelato is served in cups or cones, or tubs to take-away. You can buy jars of Piccolina’s own peanut butter, its “better than Nutella” chocolate hazelnut spread, and coconut oil.

Coconut gelato topped with a swirl of raspberry sorbetto.
Coconut gelato topped with a swirl of raspberry sorbetto.

On our latest visit, Benny ordered a cone with his favourite coconut gelato (as usual), and paired it with raspberry sorbetto. Why does he love the coconut? Beautiful creamy texture, intense coconut taste and chock-full of pieces of real coconut flesh. The tangy raspberry was an excellent contrast for the coconut.

I had mango sorbetto, which came with salted caramel. I had asked for pistachio, which would have been a better match for the luxuriance of the fresh mango, but the salted caramel was excellent.

Mango sorbetto from Piccolina. Salted caramel gelato is underneath
Mango sorbetto from Piccolina. Salted caramel gelato is underneath.

Along the way, we also sampled stracchiatella (chocolate chip) gelato and the peanut butter and caramel gelato – both were very good.

We plan to check out Piccolina’s Collingwood gelateria soon – we’re keen to compare it with the original Hawthorn store.

The Hawthorn store of Piccolina Gelateria Naturale
The Hawthorn store of Piccolina Gelateria Naturale.

Our rating: outstandingOutstanding gelato and friendly service – always happy to return.

Piccolina Gelateria Naturale
802 Glenferrie Road
Hawthorn Vic 3122

T: (03) 9815 2815
W: www.piccolinagelateria.com.au

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