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How would they have made it 100 years ago? In terms of Italian ice cream the answer to this question can be found at Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst.

Since 2002, founder Nick Palumbo, his brother, Danny, together with business partners, Donato Toce and Declan Lee, have been recreating the traditional Sicilian gelato experience with meticulous attention to detail. Everything is made in-house with fresh, raw ingredients. The only nod to modernity is the array of new flavours, often created in response to customer demands or influenced by popular culture. Pistachios are sourced from Bronte in Italy and ground and roasted in-house, as are the hazelnuts from Piedmont. No colourings, flavourings, preservatives or pastes will be found here.

Nick began his gelato journey at the age of sixteen back in Messina, Sicily, before moving to Adelaide and then Sydney to open the Darlinghurst shop. He oversees the company and ensures it retains values true to its heritage. Brother, Danny, runs operations; Donato is the Head Chef; and Declan takes care of brand management and digital. Nick and Donato are Gelato scientists and are the creative edge of the business, always experimenting with new ingredients and designing new flavours from scratch in-house.

“It’s not just the artisan technique derived from our origins in Sicily, but the mad obsession with making absolutely everything from scratch,” explained Nick.

He has dedicated his life to mastering the craft, but is also keen to drive it on to new ground. Nothing is off limits with ingredients. He added, “We continue to surprise and shock our customers on a daily basis. We don’t like to ever play it safe or be predictable to anyone.”

The milk for the gelato is Jersey milk from Warrnambool in Victoria, which is as close to the rich Italian milk typically used. All other ingredients are sourced raw from premium suppliers, such as the blood oranges brought in from Griffith, the local mandarins juiced on site, and the mangoes from the Northern Territory. Other ingredients are imported from origin if necessary, including specialty passionfruit brought in from Panama.

The gelato is mixed, churned and served on site daily. The 40-plus varieties include dairy flavours that are low in fat and sorbets high in fruit; bespoke gelato cakes are also made in-house. The house specialty tiramisu gelato is ever-popular. Equally you will find flavours like apple pie, dulce de leche, or pear and rhubarb; there are also many exotic sorbets like salted coconut and mango salsa, pandan and coconut, and lychee martini.

Over the past twelve years the business has expanded from one store in Darlinghurst to eight pint-sized stores in city nooks such as Pyrmont, Bondi, Surry Hills and Parramatta, as well as in Melbourne and China. It’s not stopping there either, with the USA and London next on the agenda.

But there’s no turning their back on Sydney. As Nick said, “Sydney is that bombshell beauty that you could gaze at all day. The residents are a bit nutty and they know what they want – this is what makes the city constantly evolve.”

Locate Gelato Messina Darlinghurst

Shop 1, 241 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW


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