HEAVEN IN A CONE
THE BEST INGREDIENTS, MINIMAL SUGAR AND STORAGE AT THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE SET RIVARENO GELATO APART.
Kieran Tosolini was on holiday in Italy when he stumbled across some amazing gelato at a place called RivaReno in Turin. In a country literally full of thousands of gelaterie, this one stuck out. It was all natural, stored in the traditional pozzetti counter (steel cylinders with sealed lids) and the flavour was incredible. So much so he sought it out in the next Italian city he went to and the next.
“I thought if they can keep such consistency and quality and each flavour was exactly the same [in the different locations], maybe we could do it in Australia,” Tosolini tells WISH. “I thought it was a long shot. It was very challenging and it has been very difficult because we have had to import a lot of ingredients and get a lot of permits. But we made it happen in the end.”
Tosolini opened RivaReno in Darlinghurst in Sydney’s inner city three years ago and has just opened another store at Barangaroo. RivaReno was conceived in Bologna in 2004 when a group of friends (including two gelato makers, an ex BBC journalist and a former car sales executive) decided to open the “best Italian ice-cream laboratory ever”. The name came from the river that runs through the northern Italian town. They opened the first one in Milan in 2005, won scores of awards and now there are nine stores around Italy (including Rome and Florence) as well as in Spain, Malta and Australia.
“It is milk-based and only uses minimal sugar, basically as much as you need to balance the recipe,” explains Tosolini, comparing RivaReno with the average gelato. “It is balanced really well – the flavours come through instead of having a sickly sweet taste.”
And it is all about the quality. Tosolini imports frozen Italian milk to make the gelato and only uses the best ingredients; pistachios from Bronte in Sicily, hazelnuts from Piedmont or red African cocoa beans. In line with the original RivaReno recipes, the gelato is made daily and only a few kilos are made at a time. It is made onsite and stored in a pozzetti (so customers cannot actually see it) and kept at a slightly warmer temperature than normal ice-cream. “Keeping it warmer allows you to taste it better on your palate,” he says. “It seals in the freshness of the taste.”
Tosolini was in finance in his previous life (working for Ernst & Young) but he always knew a desk job wasn’t quite him. His passion for food was sparked by growing up in an Italian household in Sydney’s south where the meal preparation was almost as important as the meal itself. “Instead of going out with friends, I used to spend all my time off watching cooking shows and cooking – way before it was cool,” he says of his childhood. “Back then, I didn’t even tell anyone!”
Despite swapping his stable job for a life of gelato, Tosolini is not sick of it. But he acknowledges that they still have a long way to go in Australia. “People who come in and try our product, they understand, it but the hardest thing is getting people to try it in the first place. But it is happening more and more now because of word of mouth,” he says. “Everyone says they make a highquality product and use high-quality ingredients but we really do and the proof is in the pudding.”