400 Gradi, Lygon St

400 Gradi is a member of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, one of the only two members in Australia.  This is not good for the Napoletana brand. Perhaps it was just high expectations and weeks of anticipation on my part but this pizzeria failed to deliver.

Firstly, let’s just take a look at what the Associazione is aiming for  – “The consistency of the Vera Pizza Napoletana should be soft, elastic, easy to manipulate and fold. The centre should be particularly soft to the touch and taste, where the red of the tomato is evident, and to which the oil or for the ‘Pizza Marinara, the green of the oregano and the white of the garlic has perfectly amalgamated; In the case of the Pizza Margherita, the white of the mozzarella should appear in evenly spread patches, with the green of the basil leaves, slightly darkened by the cooking process.” – Il Disciplinare, Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana 2008

The society dictates the ingredients, methods of preparation, and every minute detail of how the pizza is prepared and served to ensure a consistent product. The pizza cannot even be taken away from the restaurant! – which begs the question as to why the pizza could be such a disaster and fail to deliver any of the key elements of good pizza or good food. The base should be soft, nicely aerated and slightly crisp on the bottom. The sauce, light, a little bit acidic and bringing all of the other ingredients together. My experience at 400 Gradi was unfortunately, severely lacking any of these things.

The margherita was fragrant yet looked flawed from the outset. A watery tomato sauce weighed the base down making it soggy and disgusting. The base was incredibly salty and chewy. It became difficult to swallow and a bit of a chore to eat consume, leaving a mass of unwanted crusts on the wooden serving board. Our second pizza was topped with roasted pumpkin, rocket and goats cheese. In complete contradiction to the first pizza it was dry and lacked something to bring it all together, again disadvantaged by the base.

Even the Tiramisu was a bit disappointing. If anywhere should be able to pull this off nicely, you’d think 400 Gradi could, but I guess the Associazione only cares about pizza. The tiramisu was served quite tackily in a conical glass where the sponge was drowned in marsala permeating a terrible ‘mum’s gone overboard with the brandy’ alcohol flavour. I’m not sure if there was coffee involved.

Don’t Go. Try It. Must Go.

400 Gradi on Urbanspoon

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5 Comments on “400 Gradi, Lygon St”

  1. stephano
    October 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Reading this review has made me wonder if you actually understand good food.I went on Sat night for the first time, and it was pumping, service was amazing and the pizza was unbelievable. I travel to italy every year for business and visit Napoli everytime for Pizza and coffee. Let me tell you 400 Gradi is Napoli in Melbourne. Maybe you haven’t been to napoli to experience amazing Pizza. Maybe you haven’t experienced San Marzano Tomato or fresh buffalo mozzarella. Well I can comment as I visit every year, 400 Gradi has demonstrated to me that it makes Pizza Napoletana. Reading is one thing actually experiencing is another. Maybe you should go again, become familiar with the product. If your use to the pizza in Australia, Dry Crisp hard as a rock base then obviously you would comment the way you have. Take my advise take a trip to Naples and maybe then you will be able to comment.

    • JoelSmith
      October 19, 2011 at 5:35 am #

      Sounds like someone works for 400 Gradi! I’ve never had pizza in Australia that is ‘Dry Crisp hard as a rock’, but would be interested in where you’ve experienced this phenomena.

      I have been to Italy and have experienced food from all over the world. As posted, the pizza I had at 400 Gradi was soggy and the board was almost dripping round the edges, yet the base was ridiculously chewy – rendering it a rather unpleasant experience to eat. Perhaps your experience was much better (or perhaps you work there). The pizza I received is not how pizza is meant to be and your comment makes me question whether you understand good food. Nevertheless, you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

  2. October 19, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Hi Joel and Stephano, firstly i would like to thank both of you for your comments. Joel I noticed your post this morning while visiting a site that displays were are BYO, which I would like to take the Liberty to say this is incorrect. Nevertheless, after reading both of your comments i thought I would reply. Stephano, thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed your experience at 400 Gradi. Joel, I want to thank you also for your post. I’m deeply dissapointed to hear of your experience at 400 Gradi. My staff and myself take our work very serious and I can assure that when aware of your experience they will be deeply dissapointed. Although we do our very best to ensure that every pizza leaves the kitchen at ultimate quality there can be mistakes as we are human. ( still no excuse although is possible ) I have been making pizza for over 20 years and have seen pizza develop over the years in Australia. I frequently get asked who makes the best pizza or who makes the worst pizza, my answer to this is that no body makes the best or worse as humans have different pallets. From both Stephano and your comments I take it was a 1st time visit to 400 Gradi? I dine out frequantly and I have been to restaurants that have not satisfied on my 1st visit but have always given a 2nd try as many factors may have determined my opinion. Joel I would like to talk to you more about your experience at 400 Gradi as I value every comment good or bad. Please email me. Once again to the both of you, thank you for taking your time to express your feedback, it show’s how passionate Australian’s are about food. Happy eating and Kindest Regards Johnny

    • October 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Johnny, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure which site you read that says you are BYO? Urbanspoon? but you may wish to email them. I honestly was looking forward to eating at 400 Gradi and am a big pizza fan. However, I just didn’t really enjoy it primarily because it was very soggy and wet (Margherita) and the base was chewy. In fairness to you I will try again and update/add to my review accordingly. Thanks, Joel

  3. Frank
    January 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Hi Joel- I have a pizza restaurant in Ivanhoe called Woodfire. We also do a Neapolitan style pizza; although we have not gone down the path of becoming registered. Neapolitan pizza can sometimes be a little soggy, especially if the oven temperature has surpasses the optimal level, which is quite easy to do! I invite to try one of my pizzas too, just as a comparison to 400 gradi’s, as I think you will find the desired product is comparable… Cheers, Frank

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