Italian restaurant 400 Gradi in East Brunswick is synonymous with delectable cuisine, impeccable service, and an atmosphere that always seems to be buzzing. Having previously visited esteemed chef Johnny Di Francesco’s restaurants twice before, I was sure that third time would certainly be just as charming, with even more to try.
Dim lighting greeted us as we entered this Melbourne ‘hot spot’ and were shown to our table for the evening by our handsome Italian waiter Emanuele. We perused the drinks menu and settled on the signature Espresso Martini ($18), and a refreshing Mojito ($18) before moving on to our entrees. 400 Gradi is famous for its fantastic selection of cured meats and aged cheeses. We settled on 30g of a mild Pecorino cheese ($11) all the way from Tuscany, a selection of marinated olives ($6), and the Bruschetta ai Carciofi ($17). Of all three my absolute favourite was the bruschetta. Two pieces of soft bread were covered in mouth watering artichokes infused with creamy goats cheese and rocket. A lovely alternative to the more traditional tomato and onion bruschetta. The pecorino was also quite delectable, however shared between two people there wasn’t enough to truly appreciate the taste. The olives were a lovely pallet cleanse that we enjoyed nibbling on as we awaited our main course.
For mains we settled on the Gnocchi al pomodoro ($27), and the Toscana pizza ($24). Having previously won the world pizza championships, we were sure that we couldn’t go wrong with one of Johnny’s wonderful thin crust pizza’s, however surprisingly it was the Gnocchi that was the standout dish! Sometimes I find Gnocchi to be a tad monotonous, but this dish I could gladly eat all day long. Homemade pasta always tastes better, as you can detect the freshness in both texture and flavour. Napoli sauce, ricotta, and basil were added for a truly delicious traditional Italian dish just like Nonna makes it. The pizza dough was fresh and thin, just how it’s suppose to be, and ingredients are lightly sprinkled on top so as not to overload the senses, and truly let you taste each ingredient. Mushrooms, goats cheese and rocket made the perfect combination on this bianco base pizza. It was completely free of oil and grease, a good size, and surprisingly light for a pizza, again due to the thin crust. All in all some fantastic mains to choose from, but you just can’t go past the Gnocchi!
Having previous had heavenly experiences with Gradi’s deserts that we still reminisce about to this day, I was excited to read the new dessert menu. After much deliberation, we chose the Apple Crumble ($16), and the Tortino al cioccolato ($16). The crumble was fresh and textured with caramelised apples and sultanas bathed in beautiful flavours of cinnamon. The vanilla ice cream cradled next to it was to die for, with it’s creamy smooth facade glistening in the dimmed lighting. The perfect juxtaposition to the warm crumble. The Tortino al cioccolato is a chocolate fondant that’s hard on the outside and literally oozes heavenly chocolate goodness from the inside. This is a signature desert for Gradi, and rightly so as it’s extremely hard to get right. They always deliver every time without fail with their masterful approach to fondant’s.
400 Gradi really is one of the best Italian restaurants that Melbourne has to offer, and don’t people know it! Always brimming with excited patrons ready to try world famous pizza, expertly mixed cocktails, and basque in the atmosphere whilst enjoying traditional cuisine. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to East Melbourne and enjoy a meal straight from the heart of Italy.
400 Gradi also has location at Crown Melbourne, and now the brand’s latest restaurant has opened up in Essendon with slow-cooked meals and gelati bar, headed by Chef Harry Lilai.
400 Gradi Brunswick
Address: 99 Lygon St, East Brunswick
Contact: (03) 9380 2320
Hours: Seven days; 12pm-11pm