This week, the expanding Gradi Group hospitality empire will open the doors of their latest venue, a gelateria in prime position on the riverfront promenade of Melbourne’s Crown Casino complex.

Led by Johnny Di Francesco, the founder of Gradi Group, Zero Gradi in Southbank will be an Italian dessert concept where everything is made from scratch.

The first Zero Gradi opened its doors five years ago on Lygon Street in Brunswick East after the success of 400 Gradi. Opened in 2008, 400 Gradi became a Melbourne institution after being named Best Pizza in Oceania at the Top 50 Pizza awards in Naples.

Alongside hand-crafted cakes and pastries, the in-house pastry chefs at Zero Gradi’s new Southbank outpost will be churning fresh gelato daily using techniques that Di Francesco mastered during two years spent in Naples.

The gelato-churning technique favoured by Zero Gradi involves pasteurising high-quality ingredients over a minimum 24-hour period in professional Carpigiani gelato machines.

The menu will comprise 30 rotating flavours of gelato, including classic Neopolitan flavours such as lemon, zabaglione and pistachio. These will sit alongside more unusual flavours such as sour cherry, white chocolate and Bacio.

Another of the home-made Italian specialties to be made by Zero Gradi’s pastry chefs is the Cornetti, an Italian croissant that is slightly smaller and softer than its French counterpart. Zero Gradi’s Cornetti will be made using butter imported from Europe.

“Zero Gradi Gelateria and Dessert Bar houses all our pastries, desserts and gelato, made daily by our talented pastry chefs. The display cabinets provide an Italian fanfare of classic desserts with family recipes that have been passed down for generations. We look forward to continuing to expand the Gradi offering to the sweeter things in life,” said Di Francesco in a statement.

Photography by Renee Oliver.