I was determined to get to 99 Lygon street, Brunswick this evening. The cool of the evening breeze could not blow away the excitement welling within me. I was pumped! I was looking forward to seeing the 'Champ' in the flesh, and more importantly, tasting that world class pizza!
The crowd is milling and the staff accommodating and efficient
Looks like every man and his dog had the same idea. Everyone had come out of the woodwork just like me. It was obvious we had all watched the same news channel. Getting there closer to 8pm to avoid the rush seems to have had no effect.
Happy waiting chatty customers and staff flying around busy
I am talking about 400 Gradi Pizzeria. 'The Champ' is Johnny Di Francesco, owner operator of 400 Gradi, so named because it's the perfect temperature for cooking pizza. He took out the 'Specialita Traditionale Garantita' pizza prize for his Margherita pizza at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy last weekend (Championship held 11th to 15th April). He beat 600 other competitors, including 6 from Australia, representing 35 countries.
Busy in the Kitchen ~ operating hours 12 midday to 11 pm
It was an honour to meet Johnny who took the time to speak to me for a few minutes while his fingers kept flying through the dough for all those waiting customers. He's been around pizzas a long time and started working at pizzerias when he was 19. Australian born with parents from Napoli, Johnny opened 400 Gradi five years ago. The average price of all the pizzas are around $20. I asked him what message he would like to get out there to the customers. Modestly and sincerely with that brilliant smile, he answered "I would like to thank all my customers for supporting me for the last five years".
The waiters did not let the boss down with their efficiency and friendly approach. Being served up with real cotton napkins was a total surprise; it made the experience all the more special for me. It was time to enjoy my world champion Margherita accompanied by a fresh crisp Italian salad and washed down with some blood orange. A warm Nutella Calzone with ice cream for dessert was puuurrrrrfect.
I'm Italian and I've been living in Melbourne for 17 years now and missed the original Italian pizza. Well... no more now! LOVE It.
No gluten free for the ones that asked. Really worth spending $25 on a Marinara, that's my favorite. Friendly staff and feels like you are in Italy. You won't be disappointed. Try the pasta... delicious too!