Where it All Started…
Born from a desire to bring traditional, authentic Neapolitan cuisine to Melbourne, 400 Gradi offers customers the ultimate Italian dining experience. But it was not the love for Italian food that started this business. It was the desire for a pair of sneakers.
Since the age of 12, 400 Gradi founder Johnny Di Francesco has had a love for pizza and traditional Italian food that has driven him. Starting at the very bottom, Johnny began working in a pizzeria after school so he could buy himself the sneakers that his parents could not afford for him. Working his way up the ranks, Johnny developed an undeniable love for the food he was creating and by the age of 15, he was hooked.
Having commenced an engineering degree, Johnny realised in a first year lecture that he was constantly daydreaming about getting back to his job at the pizza shop. Gathering his things, he excused himself to go to the bathroom, and never returned. Johnny’s life as a restaurateur began.
After heading to Italy to train in traditional techniques, methods, and in restaurants across the country, Johnny returned to Melbourne determined to introduce the food of Naples to his homeland in Melbourne.
The Birth of 400 Gradi
In 2008, 400 Gradi was born with the opening of 400 Gradi Brunswick in Melbourne. 400 Gradi refers to the high temperature at which a thin-based traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked (for just 90 seconds!) in a wood-fired oven.
In April 2014, Johnny was crowned the World Pizza Champion at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in Italy, the first Australian to have ever won. Competing against 600 other competitors from 35 countries, Johnny’s Margherita Pizza took out the top prize.
Now a Melbourne institution, 400 Gradi Brunswick embodies Johnny’s passion and love of food, and has resulted in the expansion of the Gradi Group.
Interstate and International Expansion
400 Gradi now has restaurants in Essendon and at Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood, as well as a coveted position at Crown Melbourne.
Johnny has even opened up a gelataria serving traditional, handmade gelato, Zero Gradi, next door to 400 Gradi in Brunswick. There is also a 400 Gradi restaurant on P&O’s Pacific Explorer cruise ship.
In late 2017, the first 400 Gradi restaurant opened in Bahrain, and more restaurants are due to open in 2018 in Kuwait, New Zealand and Dallas, Texas in the U.S.
An Authority on Pizza Napoletana
400 Gradi adheres to the guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (the world authority on traditional Neapolitan pizza). Johnny was the first ever Australian inducted into the AVPN, and is the Principal of Australasia for the Association.
As such, Johnny and 400 Gradi have solidified their place as an authority on traditional Neapolitan pizza. 400 Gradi restaurants excel not only in serving up heavenly fare, but also in offering the warmth and hospitality that Italians are known and loved for.
400 Gradi restaurants are members of :
400 Gradi Brunswick – Member #322
400 Gradi Essendon – Member #587
Gradi Crown – Member #540