Zero Gradi Brunswick East is the gelateria by the folks behind 400 Gradi, who serve up authentic award-winning Neapolitan pizza in Brunswick East, Crown Melbourne, Essendon and soon Eastland. Their gelateria is going to no doubt draw the same eager crowds as it lures people with gelati and pastries made daily in the 400 Gradi kitchen two doors down.
The shop shares the muted colours and sleek design of 400 Gradi’s Essendon restaurant, with the gelati tubs placed front and centre and even above, as the whole selection is reflected onto the ceiling mirrors.
The servings are very reasonably priced – small cup for $4, large cup for $6, single cone $6, two flavour cone $7 and three flavour cone $8. They even have gluten-free cones.
The gelati uses no premixes, preservatives, artificial flavours and colours or thickeners. It does what it says on the box – the hazelnut is an intense creamy nuttiness, the mango is the sweet ripe fruit.
However, one of their more unusual flavours is ‘margherita’ which luckily is nothing like the pizza! Instead of tomato, basil and fior di latte this ice cream is based on a cassarta Italian dessert with a hint of liqueur. Only the green and red pay homage to the pizza!
I also love the choc mint, with big flakes of dark chocolate scattered amongst a pale green base, evidence of use of actual mint to infuse the cream instead of a fluorescent and overly sweet artificial colouring or flavouring.
You can choose to top your gelati with hot dark chocolate or white chocolate sauce on tap, or the authentic Italian way with ‘panna’ ie whipped cream.
The cafe also serves coffee, cake and pastries, hence the early opening time of 7am. I try the lemon meringue pie, again a very reasonable $4.50, which has a sweet lemon curd inner topped with swirls of lightly charred meringue. The pastry is firm and rather hard, a sort of ‘Italian’ style of cake rather than the ethereal French version.
Zero Gradi makes it into my list for where to Melbourne’s best ice cream and gelato and if you don’t fancy lining up with the masses on Lygon Street you can still sample many of the flavours at the gelati counter at 400 Gradi Essendon.