Johnny Di Franceso – the winner of the 2014 Pizza World Championship – has added another venue to his portfolio with the opening of 400 Gradi in Essendon.

The new restaurant has been designed by South Melbourne studio Lombard & Jack and features dark grey walls, textured wool panelling and black and white tiles. The venue seats 220 guests with indoor, outdoor and private dining options available.

The menu will keep in theme with Di Francesco’s other venues – 400 Gradi Crown and 400 Gradi Brunswick – by offering salumi, antipasta and authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas.

Good Food reports that ex owner-chef of Fitzroy’s Town Hall Hotel, Harry Lilai, has come on board as executive chef of the Gradi Group, adding a number of dishes to the menu including gnocchi di patate with 20-year-old balsamic vinegar and black garlic; and slow-cooked capretto with lemon, paprika and white wine.

In addition to the new venue, Di Francesco has plans to open a gelato store named Zero Gradi on Lygon Street early next year.

Hospitality caught up with Di Franceso recently to discuss what it takes to become a member of the AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana or Association of true Neapolitan Pizza). Look out for the November issue of Hospitality Magazine to read the full article.


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