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400 Gradi, a notable Italian resto from a notable pizza guy from Oz, opens in downtown Dallas


Backed by some Dallas investors, a pizza guy from Melbourne who was active on the competition pizza circuit is about to open a branch of his Australian-based Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas.

400 Gradi opens Monday, September 16, with a menu of Italian pastas, mains and pizzas styled after Napolitano pies. Melbourne chef Johnny Di Francesco is behind the concept, his first in the U.S.

A 400 Gradi spokesperson says Di Francesco was named the 2014 champion at the World Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy, one of the more difficult pizza contests on the planet to win. He operates 13 restaurants in Oz and appeared on the 2017 season of MasterChef Australia.

“Dallas is a growing food city. When my business partners (who also live in Dallas) toured me around, I fell in love with North Texas,” said Di Francesco in an email from the company’s publicist to Hatch HQ. “It reminded me of Melbourne, and I felt it was only natural to open 400 Gradi in the heart of Dallas.”

The menu includes 15 Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas, which sounds credible, but Gradi’s spokesman says “the dough and all pastas (which are vegan) undergo a fermentation process for 48 hours in a specially designed temperature-controlled room with 0% humidity.” Update: they say that was a proofreader mistake; the humidity is 65-70%, which is normal for pizza proofing.

Umm, seriously? That’s got to be a mistake. Naples is hot, humid and often foggy, which do not equate to zero humidity…anywhere. And zero humidity would produce horrible pasta and pizza doughs, which is why they are rested in containers that lock IN their humidity.

In any case, the city is always ripe for good Italian food and well-made pizza. And their downtown location inside 2000 Ross Avenue (where a 227-room hotel is in development), bounded by Ross, Harwood St., San Jacinto St., and Olive St., could be a gold mine.

(Note: the menu says “no alterations during peak periods,” so let’s see how that goes over with the fickle crowd in downtown Dallas.)

Photos: 400 Gradi

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