123 King St
Newtown, NSW 2042
It was a happy day when I discovered a little slice of gelati heaven called MaPo. What was less happy was the fact that this discovered occurred approximately a week before lockdown started. And whilst MaPo stayed open throughout those dark months, I unfortunately did not live within 5km, or even 10km, and hence was forced to be MaPo-less for the entire time. But now that we’re all vaccinated and out and about, I was back at MaPo in a flash, ready to get all those gelato fixes I was denied for so long. And yes, you can consider this a spoiler to what I think of MaPo.
The little storefront is decorated in an attractive industrial style, with pops of yellow and gold breaking up the natural beige. And although it’s right up the CBD end of King St, the constant lines outside is a clue to its popularity. That’s because MaPo is a bit different from the other gelato places around town. But the irony is that they’re not doing so with fancy new technologies or trends, but by taking gelato right back to its roots. There is a heavy focus on natural, seasonal ingredients and classic techniques, and they proudly describe their product as being artisanal and imperfect; each batch tastes just slightly different, but is always undeniably made with the utmost love and care.
Aside from a few stalwarts, the menu largely consists of a constantly rotating selection of seasonal flavours, and will always include a handful of sorbets in the dozen or so offerings. What really impressed me was the fact that each gelato has its own individual recipe, which is what makes each and every one taste just right because if you think about it, of course a one size fits all approach wouldn’t make sense, given how different the range of ingredients used can be. Another little thing I liked was that although you can get your standard scoops in a cup or cone – One Scoop ($5.5), Two Scoops ($7), Three Scoops ($8.5) – you also have the option of getting one scoop with two flavours in it for an extra 50 cents; perfect for someone like me who wants to try as many things as possible.
Nocciola (Hazelnut) is my litmus test for the quality of a gelateria, and I can easily say that this is by far the best I’ve ever had. The texture was absolute perfection; just a little bit of stretch when it was being scooped out of the pozzetti, and every bite blissfully silky and smooth. The hazelnut flavour itself had an amazing clarity to it, an unadulterated roasted nuttiness supported only by the highest quality milk and sugar. Similarly, the Hojicha can only be described as tasting exactly like roasted green tea, but in gelato form. It was clean and grassy, underscored with an earthy warmth that tastes as pure as a fresh cup of tea made with the best leaves.
Unsatisfied with just two scoops, I went back for a third – the Pompelmo Rosa sorbet. The sorbets here are made with just three ingredients – fruit, sugar, and water – which is already impressive. It becomes downright boggling however when you consider how light, smooth, and creamy this tastes. And of course, as you’d expect by now, the flavour was unparalleled. Equal parts sweet and tart, with just the slightest hint of bitterness, this is a dead ringer for fresh pink grapefruit, served straight from the ice box.
On one (of many) subsequent visits, I decided to try one of their permanent flavours – the Caramello. If you’re sick of salted caramel, I beg you to reconsider, because this is like nothing else out there. It tasted like expensive butter and burnt sugar, which combined with the milky base, made for a very luxurious caramel flavour indeed. The Pistachio is similarly well done, effortlessly capturing the delicately sweet aroma of freshly roasted pistachios, and managed to taste simultaneously rich yet light.
If you’re a chocolate lover, the Budino al Cioccolato is an absolute must. The official translation for that is chocolate pudding, but if you ask me, it tastes like the most decadently rich and silky dark chocolate mousse, made with the best cocoa beans money can buy. The Macadamia Fume is a good one to pair with it; although its softness be a little underwhelming at first, its delicate, almost floral aroma soon becomes an important counterbalance to the richness of the cocoa. Chocolate macadamias are a classic for a reason you know!
And just for research’s sake (of course), I also ordered a scoop of the Pera e Zenzero. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this sorbet tasted exactly like biting into a ripe pear and a piece of crystallised ginger at the same time, and I was once again boggled by its texture and creaminess, which was almost indistinguishable from gelato.
There is very good reason why MaPo is the new darling of the gelato world. The flavours here are unrivalled in their clarity, and really challenged my perceptions on how gelato and sorbets can taste. Gelato Messina may be just down the road, but I would happily walk the extra distance for MaPo, because there really isn’t anything around quite like it.
Rating: 15.5/20 – gelato (and sorbet) perfection.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.