AFTER reading about a new gelateria in Melbourne’s very own Little Italy, Carene Chong had to find out what all the hype was about.
My Google Maps app showed I was close to my destination but I was almost sure it wasn’t giving me the right directions. Up ahead was a rather quiet street, with graffitied houses, old brick buildings and deserted narrow alleyways – not the sort of place I would imagine a gelateria to be.
But a few steps forward along Faraday Street, Carlton, as my blue dot approached the red marker on the map, there it stood, a quaint little shop with the words Pidapipo in neon lights jumping out at me.
Owner Lisa Valmorbida says the name came from an Italian game she used to play with her nonno (Italian for ‘grandfather’) while growing up.
“I wanted to name it after him,” she says.
Stepping into the brightly lit shop with prettily painted pastel walls, I realise it’s more spacious than it looks from the outside. A retro marquee on the right corner of the room displays the flavours on offer.
On the day of my visit, Pidapipo offered a number of classic favorites such as Nutella swirl, pistachio and salted caramel, as well as some less conventional options like mojito and ricotta cinnamon and honey.
On any given day, the shop also offers a few other trial flavours. That’s what makes it a ‘gelato test lab’.
“We are here to trial and test our flavours before we open a permanent shop next summer,” Lisa explains.
If you can’t decide, Lisa suggests you try the pistachio. She imports the nuts from a town in Italy called Bronte, which specialises in growing pistachios.
Several very attractive female shop assistants can be seen bustling around the store, scooping ice cream and operating gelati machines. Surely that helps business to some extent!
Pidapipo sets itself apart from other gelaterias in the area by storing their ice cream in round metal pots with lids called pozetti.
Simply pick a flavour and the lovely shop assistants will take the lid off the pot, scoop you a nice dollop of creamy goodness and pop the lid back on.
Lisa explains that by using pozzetti, she preserves the freshness of the gelati better and keeps it at the correct serving temperature.
I dropped by Pidapipo with a few of my sweet-toothed girlfriends and decided to choose a couple of flavours so we could do a proper taste test.
Without hesitation, I ordered a scoop of my favorite salted caramel on a cone. Too common a flavour choice you might think, but it’s nevertheless a classic that I was sure wouldn’t disappoint.
Sure enough, the slightly burnt taste of pleasantly sweet caramel with that savory tinge from the sea salt made for a celebration on my tastebuds.
As I finish my cone, my tongue protested with the overload of sugar but I was a happy camper overall.
The Nutella swirl needs no elaboration. A Nutella and ice cream combo, what’s not to like about it?
The two other flavours my gal pals opted for were the mojito sorbet and banana milkshake, both on cones.
The mojito sorbet certainly brought about memories of holidays by the beach and tasted close enough to the popular cocktail, but it was a little too sweet for my liking. Having it on a cone proved too much for my friend who couldn’t down the whole thing.
The banana milkshake was a tricky flavour that you either love or hate. If you’re a fan of banana, this will float your boat, but if the banana syrup taste turns you off, this is definitely not a flavour to order. Brownie points for creativity though!
As we left the shop gelati in hand, the shop assistant bid us a cheery, “Ciao!”
Gelati, tick. Customer service, tick!
Ciao Pidapipo for now, but I hope to drop by again sometime soon.