RivaReno Gelato, Barangaroo, Sydney

Two days, one night in Sydney. Could I squeeze in a visit to an artisan gelateria? Absolutely. And I found the ideal place. RivaReno.

Founded in 2004 in Bologna, RivaReno now has gelaterie across Italy, and has expanded to Australia, Malta and Spain. My expectations were high. RivaReno has some prestigious awards, including “Migliore gelateria d’Italia” (best gelateria in Italy) in 2008 from the Golosaria association and “Maestri del Gusto” (Masters of Taste) from the Slow Food organisation.

So how did RivaReno earn such accolades? It starts with the basics – natural ingredients with no artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives. The ingredients come from top quality sources: hazelnuts and pistachios from Italy, Arabica coffee beans, real vanilla from Madagascar.

The gelato is made in-house fresh each day in small batches using traditional Italian recipes. And supplemented with innovative creations sympathetic to those traditions.

The gelato is stored in lidded pozzetti, which help to retain freshness by minimising exposure to the air – crucial when no preservatives are used. Another advantage of pozzetti is that the gelato does not need to be quite so cold – resulting in a smoother texture and more intense taste.

RivaReno Gelato - after a busy night the queue had started to clear
At the end of a busy night at the Barangaroo store, the queue had become much shorter.

RivaReno opened its first Sydney gelateria in Darlinghurst in 2013. My target was RivaReno’s second store at Barangaroo which opened in 2016.

By the time I arrived it was quite late – RivaReno is open until 10:30pm or 11:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays – and the gelateria was packed. There was a long queue of customers and the tables, both inside and outside on the footpath, were all occupied.

The gelato is served in cups or cones, in brioche or bomboloni (donuts). There were around two dozen flavours, including both dairy and non-dairy (sorbetti) options, plus several fresh fruit granitas. The menu is a mix of standards and “specials” – the latter are available for two weeks before being replaced by another special.

My friendly server was happy to make recommendations. It was a tough choice. I tried ricotta e fiche (sheep’s milk ricotta with caramelised figs) and caramello salato (caramel with pink Himalayan salt). But my final choice was one of the special flavours, crema cavour – sheep’s milk ricotta and Calabrian lemon peel – paired with cioccolato extra fondente – extra bitter chocolate sorbet.

Crema cavour paired with cioccolato extra fondente at RivaReno Gelato.
Crema cavour paired with cioccolato extra fondente at RivaReno Gelato.

Every single one was stunning – super intense flavour and with gorgeous velvety smooth textures. This was some of the best gelato I have ever tasted.

How could I leave Sydney with only one visit to RivaReno? Back at my hotel, I hatched a plan. Start the next day with a brioche con gelato. Breakfast like a Sicilian.

At 8am I was RivaReno’s only customer and the friendly server was setting up for the day. But no brioche! According to my friendly server these are the only items that RivaReno does not make in-house – they come from Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point and the day’s delivery had not yet arrived. I was crushed – so I just had to make do with gelato in a cup for my breakfast.

After sampling a couple more flavours – caffè (coffee) and Alice (described as mascarpone, a splash of premium marsala “Vergine Soleras” and lashings of giandiuia) – I made my choice. Nocciola la Piemonte (hazelnut, made from “Tonda Gentile Trilobata” nuts, reputedly the best in the world, imported from Piedmont) paired with lampone (raspberry) sorbetto. Totally awesome. Again, the flavours and the texture were superb.

Pairing nocciola la Piemonte (hazelnut) gelato with lampone (raspberry) sorbetto at RivaReno Gelato.
Pairing nocciola la Piemonte (hazelnut) gelato with lampone (raspberry) sorbetto at RivaReno Gelato.

According to my friendly server the most popular flavour is pistachio – it sells out within moments of being replenished. But I didn’t get to try it – the pistachio pozzetti was empty on both my visits.

My only complaint – I don’t visit Sydney often. Will RivaReno come to Melbourne? I live in hope.

Our rating: outstandingSome of the best gelato we have ever tasted – it would totally justify extending our scoring system to six cones. Intense flavours, velvety smooth texture – superb real Italian style gelato.

RivaReno Gelato
4/33 Barangaroo Avenue
Barangaroo NSW 2000

T: (02) 9188 1510
W: rivareno.com.au

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