Mamma Mia! The renowned wood-oven Neapolitan pizza restaurant 400 Gradi has finally hit Norwood, Adelaide. With humble beginnings, founder Johnny Di Francesco started working in a pizzeria when he was just 12 years old so he could afford a pair of Nike sneakers. By the age of 15 Johnny had fallen in love with creating beautiful food and in particular, pizza.
After the success of the first 400 Gradi restaurant in 2008 located in Brunswick, Victoria, owners and married couple Johnny and Maria Di Francesco decided to take the Gradi name across Melbourne to the Crown, Essendon and Eastland Shopping Centre. By 2014, they had even collected the title of World Pizza Champion at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in Italy, for Johnny’s Margherita Pizza, against 600 other competitors from 35 countries. Now, luckily for us, little ol’ Adelaide has the honour of being their first interstate expansion.
It’s easy to see why 400 Gradi has become a huge name in Melbourne. Johnny and Maria’s family-orientated values can be seen with everything they do, from the way they treat their staff, their love for food and entertaining, and of course the warm and genuine welcoming you receive from the moment you step foot in their restaurant.
We have to kick off this review by talking about the fit-out. Maria says she worked closely with Architect Dean Dyson to create “their best restaurant design to date”, featuring polished terrazzo flooring and tables, clean-cut black and brown leather booths on the outskirts, complimented with pendant lighting and greenery dropping from the ceiling.
Next, what you’re all here for, the food. For entree we tried the Salumi Board, with their daily selection of cured meats and cheeses: prosciutto, salami, capagollo and buffallo mozorella, served with breadsticks, olives and gnocco (a type of Italian dumpling). Then, fresh Oysters served natural, the Olive Ascolane: olives stuffed with veal and rocket, Arancini: rice balls with bolognese and rose’ sauce, Crocchette: crispy croquettes with pumpkin and garlic aioli, Friggitelli: a sweet Italian chilli pepper on Greek yoghurt and tomato powder and finally, the Octopus: a refreshing salad of octopus, avocado, pomegranate and cucumber to get us ready for mains!
For mains we got to try four delicious pizzas: the Margherita Verace with tomato, mozzorella, basil and extra virgin olive oil, the Diavola with tomato, mozzorella, hot salami and rocket and the Marinara with tomato, garlic and oregano (vegan and vegetarian). The pizzas lived up to our expectations with their light, paper thin bases, their tasty produce and their unique smoky flavour you could only get from a wood fired pizza oven.
Just when we thought mains were done, we were served the eye-catching black Fettuccini pasta, each strand made in-house with squid ink, fresh spanner crab, crunchy asparagus, garlic and chilli which packed plenty of flavour and punch.
But wait, we’re not done! Next up was dessert: a mouthwatering Fig Tart with hazelnut frangipane, mascarpone and sweet figs and the Lemon Curd with brulee, sable and coconut ice cream *faints*.
Lastly, let’s talk drinks. When you’ve got the fanciest looking bar featuring a coffee machine reflecting royal blue lights, wine bottles and spirits lining up and down the walls against a grey backdrop and polished terrazzo, how can you not order drinks?! With a range of cocktails to choose from, we went for a refreshing choice and Maria’s personal favourite, the Margarita with tequila, orange liqueur and squeezes of lime juice.