Johnny Di Francesco started making pizzas when he was 12 and opened his first pizza shop in Moonee Ponds at the ripe old age of 18. Now an adult, he has incorporated tradition and heritage into his pizza making process and creates what are arguably some of the better pizzas in town at his Brunswick pizzeria, 400 Gradi. Any good pizzaiolo knows that a quality pizza starts with the dough. It’s a thoughtful, evolving and time-consuming process.
After much trial and error, with his first pizza shop, Di Francesco decided to go back to the basics and took a course with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a Naples-based international association of which he is the Australasian principal. What Di Francesco discovered is that while he could make good dough, it was the small, finer details that he learned in Naples that made all the difference.
Pizza making sounds simple and in a way it is, but it’s the time, the rotation of the dough and the quality of the ingredients that make it something special. And with the same respect for quality, Di Francesco refuses to waste and uses any leftover dough for the following day’s bread.
The Margarita, while simple, is Di Francesco and his customer’s favourite. The dough is subtle in flavour, slightly charred, a little chewy and pliable. The tomato is sweet, the buffalo mozzarella a creamy, salty, perfect addition.
It’s the simplicity, the quality, the time, knowledge and skill that transform a good pizza into a great one. Studying in Naples to perfect your craft doesn’t hurt either.