There are three very good reasons why 400 Gradi has been on our radar – it is the parent restaurant of the wonderful gelateria Zero Gradi; just like the fantastic Pizzaiolo Micheluccio , it is a member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the international organisation promoting and protecting the true Neapolitan Pizza; and, just like the excellent Zero 95, one of its pizzaioli is a previous winner of the best Margherita pizza in the world. Expectations were very high.
The original 400 Gradi is in Brunswick, with well-established siblings in Southbank and Essendon. The newest branch, 400 Gradi East, opened in August 2016, in the rooftop Town Square dining precinct of Eastland shopping centre.
With such strong pizza credentials, it is a bit of a surprise that 400 Gradi East also offers a great range of Italian antipasti, salads, pastas, risottos, and classic Italian Secondi, promising a very good all round dining experience. As we entered, this promise was reinforced by cloth napkins, traditional glassware, quality tableware, stylish bentwood chairs and refined front of house service. However, I felt that the almost cavern-like interior, designed to a modern industrial aesthetic with exposed fittings and service ducts, fought against the other interior design elements.
Our party of four was in search of a light lunch. Resisting the considerable temptation to indulge in some rather scrumptious-sounding secondi (such as Caparetto al Forno – slow braised young goat, white wine, tomato, chilli, oregano and garlic), we determined instead to check out 400 Gradi East’s pizza skills, sharing two pizzas and a salad.
For drinks, our dining companions, the Alchemist and Gumnut, tested the bartender, quaffing two mocktails – a Tropical and a Sour (see first pic). Both had a base of fresh citrus, the Tropical adding pineapple and other secret ingredients; the Sour adding grapefruit, with a dash of Italian lime and raspberry cordials. They pronounced the mocktails very refreshing.
Both pizzas easily met our very high expectations – quality ingredients, great flavours, and a soft and light ‘foldable’ base in the Neapolitan tradition. Hint: abandon your cutlery, fold each pizza slice and eat it in your hands, like finger food. It may be a bit messy, but it tastes even better.
Zero Gradi gelato for dessert. They shared a serve of three gelato flavours – baci, chocolate and champagne – from a choice of eight, which was served with fresh berries. As anticipated, this was excellent gelati, but Bilby Blue and I thought that eating it directly from the Brunswick gelateria was better – however, if a trip to Brunswick is not feasible this is a good alternative.
Service was friendly and efficient, although some of our questions about the food had to be relayed to more experienced front of house staff. We got the impression that some staff are still learning the menu.
Overall400 Gradi East offers an excellent dining experience, from informal light lunches to substantial dinners. It caters for a range of dietary requirements, including gluten free, nut free, dairy free and vegetarian. Note that there is a 10% surcharge on public holidays.
Find it at400 Gradi East
“The Town Square”
Eastland Shopping Centre
175 Maroondah Highway
Ringwood VIC 3134
Phone: (03) 8822 0748