Ice cream sits securely with avocado and peanut butter in my list of top 3 things ever. So, embarking on a trip last year up to Sydney, I was frothing at the mouth with excitement and eager anticipation to try Gelato Messina – described to me by our Urban List chums up in our Sydney office as the BEST. Ice cream. Ever.
So, upon arrival in Sydney, I embarked on a late night mission to seek a much-needed ice-cream fix, and see for myself what all the fuss was about. As I approached the Surry Hills ice-creamery, it became very apparent that I was absolutely in no way appropriately dressed. Expecting a run-of-the-mill establishment where my Ugg boots and ice-cream-eating loose fitting lounge pants would suffice, I was overwhelmed when I arrived at the red carpeted nightclub-esque shopfront that is Gelato Messina.
But, as a true devotee to all things ice cream, I pushed past my tremendous embarrassment, and joined the long line of people stringing down the street to the Messina counter. Being a Libran I am the definition of indecisive, so you can only begin to imagine my state of utter anxiety when I eventually reached the counter and was immediately asked for my order. Panic ridden and extremely flustered, I ordered a daily special of rum and raisin. The only problem – I don't like rum, hence my first Messina experience was unfortunately an epic ordering fail.
Now that summer appears to have officially hit Melbourne, the newly opened Gelato Messina on Smith Street in Collingwood is undoubtedly set to receive similar crowds and lines on a daily basis. So, to make Melburnians' lives more manageable and ensure you don't suffer the same order-fail fate as I, we've put together the Ultimate Messina Flavour Guide – a comprehensive guide with pictures and descriptions to help you order at Messina without being an indecisive asshole and pick the perfect flavour for you, every single time.
There must be something about apples marinated in sugary cinnamony mixed-spicy goodness encased in a delicious pastry exterior that us Melburnians froth over (most likely because we are clearly the most intelligent of Australians) – as 'Apple Pie' is amongst one of the flavours selling more down south than it ever did in Sydney. From the mouth of head-chef himself – 'Melbourne people are foodier and more open to different flavours. Sydney is more mainstream…' This flavour is made up of actual home baked apple pies, smashed up (literally) and put into ice cream form. Get. Out. Of. Town.
As its name might suggest, this is a play on the classic favourite Cadbury Bounty Bar – incorporating coconut and choc chip into a smooth creamy ice cream base. This is one for the sweet toothed, and one to dabble in if you feel like being taken on a rollercoaster ride of reminiscence through your childhood, when there really was nothing that could compare to a Bounty Bar.
This is the ultimate choc-mint flavour explosion. Messina chefs take fresh mint, extract all the water from the leaf and incorporate it into the ice cream, adding a bitter chocolate throughout to produce one of the world's most loved flavour combos. Described as 'more minty than chocolatey', this flavour provides an authentic herby mint taste as opposed to the 'dirty tasty' toothpaste taste so often associated with mint.
'You had me at chocolate peanut fudge' – the 'you had me at hello' of the 21st century. Most gelatos are produced using a white paste, with flavour powders added accordingly. That's not how Messina rolls. This flavour is produced in 14kg batches, and 3kg of this is authentic Callabeut milk chocolate, with a lengthily infused peanut fudge flavour.
This is a classic milk based gelato, smashed with real chocolate chips. Nuff said.
Rich and decadent, this flavour is made up of a homemade nut paste, secret Messina spices, real dark chocolate and cocoa. Described by the head chef as 'not your average chocolate' and 'reminiscent of the flavours of Italy when growing up'. There are so many layers to this complex and deep flavour, that you can have it in the middle of winter, as it's quite thick on the palate. A true pick for chocolate fiends.
Coconut Lychee was the very first flavour that Nic, the founder, created using the Messina-method over 20 years ago. Utilising the traditional Artesan method as opposed to the widely-used paste / pre-made base method, the coconut and lychee gelato is created using fresh coconut milk and fresh lychees and is one for anyone with any kind of affinity for this delectable sweet fruit.
Since Messina's introduction into the Melbourne market, this flavour has obviously hit the nail on the head! A city full of self-admitting coffee addicts was inevitably going to welcome this flavour with open arms. Enter the Gelato Messina shop-front and you'll see a qualified barista pumping out double shot ristrettos all day long. This isn't just to cater for Melbourne's said coffee addiction, but also to create the base for this gelato flavour. Using Romcafe coffee beans, Messina simply adds double shot espressos to their homemade gelato base to produce this authentic coffee flavour. Truly a must try for any self-respecting coffee drinker.
Maybe it's how sophisticated we feel when we say foods in other languages (Australian phrases such as snags, pav, and dead horse just don't quite have the same romantic ring to them…), but dulce de leche is a true indulgence. Made with homemade Argentinian caramel produced exclusively for Messina, this variety is one of the sweetest on the menu.
This flavour is often overlooked due to the name doing no favours to those of us not fluent in Italian; however, according to staff, once you try this one it will be your instant favourite. The Gianguia Bianca is made up of a hazelnut and white chocolate base, with a hazelnut praline (chunks of fresh homemade toffee and nuts) adding texture throughout. The hazelnuts are imported all the way from Diomonte in Italy, and are hand-milled in-store to create a hazelnut paste. Think Kinder Surprise…on crack, touched by God, endorsed by Oprah and The Pope, and packaged in edible heaven.
Similarly, don't be fooled by the unfamiliar title when deciding on your Messina order – this is essentially a dark chocolate version of the above. Using only the finest quality imported dark chocolate, bitter cocoa from Italy and mixed with homemade hazelnut paste and Messina secret spices, put into layman's terms this one is Kinder Surprise gelato for adults.
Not needing much of an explanation and relying on the classic, natural flavours of the heroic hazelnut, this gelato variety is a classic. Again using the Artisan gelato method base, the world's best hazelnuts are imported, milled in store, made into a fresh natural paste and incorporated through the ice cream. The authenticity of flavour is like nothing you will experience in any other gelato store this side of the Atlantic, that's an Urban List guarantee.
As its nougat name would suggest, this is one of the sweetest offerings at Messina. Messina makes their own honey in-house, which provides the base flavour for this gelato. The Italian Nougat is then finished with homemade nougat, and then mixed with pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts. If you're a fan of chunks in your ice cream, or you go nuts for nuts, this is an absolute winner, with chunks of the three best nuts readily available in every single scoop.
Being the health conscious and ever-attractive bunch that us Melburnians are, it comes as no surprise that this fruit fusion has swiftly become one of the most popular flavours in Melbourne. And the production process is nothing short of mind-boggling – created using pear milk. For those of you not familiar with pear milk (i.e. everyone on earth), it is produced by using the water from pears, adding skim milk powder and cream…thus making pear milk! As with any juice, there is a marked difference between a concentrate and a fresh squeezed, and the latter is superior in every imaginable way. Complemented with ample chunks of whole pear and rhubarb, this is a summer gelato dream.
Readily available in just about every gelato store around, pistachio is, as described by the head chef, 'the jewel in every gelato'. What makes the Messina variety distinct and sets it apart from the crowd is the continued commitment to sourcing the absolute best natural ingredients available…globally. The pistachios used in this flavour are imported from Pronte in Sicily – the mecca of nuts! Grown on the foothills of Mount Etna, delivered to the Messina door, milled in-house and turned into a paste; if there was a nut Olympics these bad boys would stroll into first place without even breaking a sweat.
This Urban List favourite is created using both fresh organic figs and the absolute finest dried Iranian figs. The figs are reconstituted in sugar and finished with Messina's secret spices and aromats. Stir through the world's finest Marsala (a sweet fortified wine sourced from the Marsala Wine motherland – Marsala in Sicily, naturally) and you have a truly winning flavour combination.
This flavour is hands down THE most popular, across both Sydney and Melbourne. The folks at Messina in Melbourne alone produce 3 tonnes a week. To put it in perspective that's the same weight as a… This flavour originally came about as a mistake 4 years ago, and boy are we glad it did. The staff at Messina claim 'people go absolutely mad for it', with customers having been known to cry, real tears, if has not been available.
Put simply, this tastes like a cold tiramisu. Not using any pre made pastes, real authentic tiramisu is created using organic eggs, marsala, mascarpone and coffee. After 12 hours or drenching and soaking in coffee, it is added to the gelato mixture and hey presto – Tiramisu gelato is produced. If you think you know a tiramisu gelato, think again. You haven't lived until you try this one.
Where the phrase 'it's just so vanilla' to express boringness and blandness came from I will never understand, so long as I live. I think almost all of us can unanimously agree that sometimes there is absolutely NOTHING better than a simple, classic vanilla ice cream. Messina produces their using organic Tahitian vanilla, 'amazing' organic eggs, cream, milk and the absolute best real vanilla. This is a simple, yet absolutely delicious classic.
As with all their 'get-in-and-around-my-mouth-immediately-if-not-sooner' chocolate-based flavours, the Messina White Chocolate isn't your average chocolate of the white variety. Again using the finest Callebaut chocolate, this is a classic flavour that the Milky Bar Kid would be more proud of than even his own Milky Way Bar.
There may be no words in any language, even that of the ancient Grecian gods, to describe this combination. The base is produced by caramelising the lactose in milk slowly and gradually to create a slight caramel taste throughout. Factor in a fig jam made with dried Iranian figs, reconstituted in sugar, finished with spices and aromats, and fold through crunchy amaretto biscuits for added flavour and texture and you have the Osafa Powell of gelato.
Doing nothing in halves and driven by their unwavering commitment to fresh homemade flavours and ingredients, the yoghurt based galeto is not your average 'frozen yoghurt'. Messina yoghurt gelato is made by inoculating their own yoghurt, a practice you'll be hard pressed to find outside the slopes of Sicily itself. Made by bringing whole-milk up to 95 degrees, then bringing it back to 42 degrees then inoculating, a true yoghurt is produced. This is not frozen yoghurt folks, this is a yoghurt gelato, and once you go 'yo-go' you'll never go 'fro-yo' again.
There's not much to say with this one, except as above…with berries. What makes the Messina varietal so unique and spectacular is the use of seasonal, fresh berries. Again only the best ingredients will do here.
Described by Messina's head chef as 'heroin'. Nuff said.
Messina's range of sorbets are made up of 3 simple ingredients – water, sugar, and real-life fruit! With some varieties, there is actually not even any water at all.,..Mmm fruity!
Made using ENTIRELY blood oranges sourced from the fine slopes of Griffiths in New South Wales. Intense.
This is a must do. Made with a mango salsa created daily in-house and infused with homemade salted caramel.
Created using sour cherries, water and cherries. Using sour cherries ensures this flavour is never bland in the slightest.
As with all Messina-chocolatey-goodness, this is produced using Calebaut chocolate and bitter cocoa. Add in water and sugar and sorbet heaven is formed.
This lemon sorbet is made up of both juiced lemons and whole lemons. With little specks of lemon flesh, skin, and rind throughout, it's as refreshing as they come.
Committing again to the finest ingredients, this sorbet is produced using only the best – Kingston Mangos. The flavour will not run if they're unavailable.
Something different – this is made using coconut cream infused with Pandan leaf. It is a flavour reminiscent of sticky rice.
Using nothing but real passionfruit, water and sugar, this is bursting with flavour. Real passionfruit throughout creates fruity bliss.
Using organic raspberries and strawberries picked at perfect ripeness and frozen. Add in water and sugar and raspberry sorbet perfection is made!