Piatti Dei Nonni
Inspired by the close relationship with his own Nonna, the love for her food and family feasting, Gradi’s Johnny Di Francesco went on a hunt for Australia’s best unsung Nonna heroes to star on his Piatti Dei Nonni menu, available exclusively to Gradi Crown.
Three Aussie Nonnas have swapped their family homes, to step foot in the kitchen of Oceania’s best pizzeria – to showcase their much loved family cooking traditions.
As part of the process, we searched through almost 100 mouth-watering submissions from Victorian Nonnas and Nonnos, to find three finalists to feature at 400 Gradi Crown. When selecting the winning recipes, Johnny was looking for recipes that had a tale to tell, and touched on family and generational stories. He was blown away with the responses, which delivered all that and more.
After a month-long search, the winning Nonnas – Nonna Rita, Nonna Concetta and Nonna Elena – will all now have their signature dishes available to everyone, not just their lucky nearest and dearest. Each recipe will stay true to its creator – from extra lashings of Gorgonzola, to hearty dollops of cream – our Gradi chefs will follow each of the Nonna’s closely guarded secret recipes, to the letter.
Di Francesco says it’s been an emotional journey developing this menu with the Nonnas, making him reminisce the strong influence that his own Nonna has had on his life and ultimately, his career. “My Nonna, Angela, has been an incredible inspiration to me, living by the ethos that cooking must come from the heart – and that sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. She’s one of the strongest women I know – even at 93; she’s still the boss in the kitchen!”
“Growing up at my Nonna’s taught me the power of food as a connecting force – it was there that our family came together over a shared meal. This is the sentiment we are replicating at Gradi Crown, by making Nonna-style cooking available to all Melburnians, no matter their heritage.”
Available for a limited time from the 14th of August, the three winning dishes are:
- ENTREE – NONNA RITA’S CAULIFLOWER FRITTERS: Nonna Rita’s specialty is her moreish, crispy cauliflower fritters, which get gobbled up at lightning speed, at every family get-together. She proudly grows a range of vegetables on her Werribee South farm and is passionate about fresh produce, dishing up these much-loved family favourites every season, for the past 45 years.
- MAIN – NONNA CONCETTA’S SPINACH AND RICOTTA CANNELLONI: Nonna Concetta knows all about catering for a big family. At just eight-years-old, she was taken out of school to help her mother cook for her 13 siblings, in the small town of Rosolini, Sicily. Her mother’s hearty and deliciously cheesy spinach and ricotta cannelloni has always stuck with her – fast- track 67 years and she still cooks with these Sicilian flavours, expressing her love for her family through food.
- MAIN – NONNA ANGELA’S CALAMARI RIPIENI: Nonna Angela, Master of the kitchen as per founder and chef, Johnny Di Francesco.
- DESSERT – NONNA ELENA’S BIGNE: In 1973, Nonna Elena went to visit her mother one last time in the medieval village of Cugnoli, Abruzzo. It was an emotional trip, but while there she learnt to make her mother’s custard filled choux pastry dessert, bigne. Whenever she feels nostalgic, she prepares this indulgent dish, which brings in her family, and in turn, Nonna Elena much joy. She says this recipe “cannot be written, must be seen and tasted!”.
Nothing beats Nonna’s cooking. Trust us, you’ll feel right at home once you take your first bite.
Book your visit to Gradi Crown today.