our story It all started with 12-year-old Johnny who started working in a pizzeria after school so he could buy a pair of sneakers his parents couldn’t afford. Working his way up the ranks, Johnny developed an “undoughniable” love for the food he was creating and by the age of 15, he was hooked.
The time came for Johnny to head off to university and begin a degree in engineering. It was during a first year lecture when Johnny found himself daydreaming about the physics of pizza dough, and he realized he was taking notes on the wrong subject. Johnny politely excused himself and never returned. His life as a restaurateur began.
‘Making pizza is a sport, an artform and a science. It’s physical, it’s a process and it’s alchemy.' – Johnny Di Francesco
Johnny learned a lot in that one university lecture – namely, go after what you want, and work bloody hard at it. Start from that lecture, fast-forward through a few burnt slices, an extended trip to Italy, thousands of tomatoes with the right amount of basil, to the launch of 400 Gradi in 2008.
400 Gradi embodies Johnny’s passion and love of food, and has resulted in the expansion of the Gradi Group across Melbourne from Brunswick to Essendon, Eastland, Yarra Valley, and Crown Casino, across the border to Adelaide, overseas in Kuwait, Bahrain, New Zealand and now Texas. Even aboard P&O’s Pacific Explorer cruise ship — 400 Gradi to join the Pacific Adventure in 2020.
`I fell in love with making pizza at a young age and it’s more technical than people think. Flour and water – two of the simplest things. When you use them together in the right way, with consideration to factors like texture and temperature – magic is created.’ – Johnny Di Francesco