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400 Gradi on Lygon

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400 Gradi lays claim to being among the best pizza restaurants in Melbourne. The restaurant is modern if not chic, the wood oven pizza amazing in the Naples style, and the service engaging with a sense of festivity. We visited 400 Gradi as part of the Melbourne Pizza Festival, a great event, where you can experience places like 400 Gradi for a bargain price.

Talking with Festival organiser Matteo Rubbettino, 400 Gradi would be a hit in Italy. This is authentic Italian of the highest order. Quality ingredients, pizza cooked perfectly at 400 degrees for around 90 seconds, and even a pizza dance by the staff several times during the night.

400 Gradi is the brainchild of chef and V.P.N. Principal Johnny Di Francesco, who’s family hail from Naples in Southern coastal Italy – the home of ‘world’s best’ pizza. Johnny has a series of Pizza and Calzone outlets with the 400 Gradi restaurant being the flagship of the group.

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400 Gradi serves up classic meatballs which come sizzling hot in a covered bowl, along with bread. So good.

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400 Gradi surprised with this pizza volcano. Such a culture of conviviality here...

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The pizza is seriously good. The Toscana firenze inspired pizza comes with pizza in bianco, fior di latte, mushrooms, goats cheese, rocket. The combination of goats cheese and mushrooms was terrific along with the fior di latte mozzarella.

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The staff enjoy themselves here and it shows. The pizza dance was classic with staff twirling pizza as they danced around the room to music. It culminated with the young lady getting on the shoulders of a male staff member. The crowd loved it with many smiles and much applause.

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This is where I fell in love with 400 Gradi. The Caserta from Caserta province features san marzano tomato, mozzarella di bufala (air freighted fresh from caserta), levoni prosciutto di parma, rocket - and is a sensation. I love prosciutto on a pizza as my favourite ingredient, and this pizza was lavished with quality prosciutto, not cooked, but di parma. Soft alluring prosciutto on perfectly cooked base, slightly risen, in the Naples style.

Quality prosciutto is one of the joys of life. Levoni Parma Prosciutto is known as the most famous Italian cured ham, made from Italian pigs according and subject to the "Consorzio di Parma" regulations. Levoni Parma ham has been traditionally linked to the area of Parma since the 3rd century B.C., the time when the first salting and drying techniques were experimented on pork legs. Levoni Parma ham is is characterised by a particularly mild and delicate taste.

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400 Gradi serves up a magnificent selection of quality pizzas. Apart from the above the Frutti di mare (ct) from Catania featuring san marzano tomato, fior di latte, mussels, prawns, vongole, rocket, and parsley paesana, caught my eye.

Don't think its just about pizza. The menu also offers quality pasta dishes and brilliant secondi dishes such as T- bone fiorentina with wood oven roasted mushrooms, Scaloppine tartufo with veal scallopini, truffle cream and porcini, Guazzetto di cozze with mussels gently poached in a tomato and white wine broth with bruschetta, and the Pesce del giorno - daily market fresh fish.

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It was cool to enter the 400 Gradi kitchen and meet the crew... Masterful pizza chefs. 

Johnny Di Francesco is the first Australian ever trained in Naples to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana VPN rules and he’s the association’s Australasian Principal, travelling  the region ensuring pizzeria’s are of the highest standard before officially inducting them into the Association.  
 
Appearing regularly on the ‘Regional Italian Cuisine’ program and having appeared at the famous Caesars Palace during the Las Vegas International Pizza Expo Johnny also regularly holds seasonal Masterclasses at both The Electrolux Kitchen at The Queen Victoria Market Cooking School, and also at 400 Gradi - fast becoming recognised as Melbourne’s Mr. Pizza!

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400 degrees...

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400 Gradi makes great desserts such as this Pannacotta al miele featuring honey pannacotta with sticky vincotto, choc honeycomb crumb... Awesome pannacotta.

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400 Gradi also impresses with this Crepes alla nutella - nutella crepes with crushed pistachio... 

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Nutella has to be one of the best things to come out of Italy...

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400 Gradi is a romantic setting with cool textured wall with Italian prose, funky warm lighting, timber tables, and large windows onto Lygon.  The 400 Gradi interiors are all about classic Italian textures, with walls of espresso ribbons of Stucco Veneziana and sweeping golden calligraphy. Black and antique gold pendant lightsand a charcoal Terrazzo style polished floor all reflect a golden hue. A bar honed from a dark veined slab of 160 year old red gum, salumi cabinets and antique slicers are all part of the theatre… Outside there’s plenty more tables for dining where the usual sophistication of the ‘other’ end of Lygon Street is apparent.

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The wine list features mainly Italian, Australian, and New Zealand wines.

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400 Gradi is a stellar pizza restaurant in Melbourne. I can't wait to return. Authentic superb pizza, Italian accents and engaging service, and so much fun. Highly recommended.

   

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David Hagger is a bald headed man with a penchant for finery, convivial dining, and festive culture. He honestly believes Melbourne is an impressive global city.

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Guest Friday, 19 December 2014