99 Lygon Street
Brunswick East Vic 3057
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I only visited the highly popular 400 Gradi for the first time this week. Just about everyone, and I really mean everyone has been telling me to visit, but I keep on putting it off because it’s not often that I come across Italian food that I like.
I know what you’re thinking, how can you not like Italian food? It’s not that I don’t like it, actually it’s quite the opposite, I absolutely love it. Given I come from a very traditional Italian family, I’ve been spoilt with great food my entire life and I’ve come to expect a very high quality product. Therefore I really struggle to pay for food that is of a lesser standard than what I get from my Mum, Grandmother or Aunties.
That in mind, I figure there must be a reason why so many people are talking about 400 Gradi, so my husband and I decided to visit on Friday night. If a crowd is anything to go by, well then Gradi must be an absolute winner. We had an 8.15pm booking and the place was just about bursting at the seams. After we were seated, I watched the front door and I was amazed by the number of people that were being turned away because there just wasn’t any space for them.
The menu is quite extensive and covers many of the classic dishes we’ve all come to love and expect from Italian restaurants, plus it offers a large selection of cured meats and to my surprise, a stack of seafood based dishes. I didn’t really feel like pasta or a big main, so we decided to order a few dishes from the Antipasto menu plus one of their famous pizzas. After some deliberation between the two of us, we settled on the Polpette al sugo (Italian style beef meatball cooked in Napoli sauce served with toasted bread), Involtini di melanzane (Eggplant layer with smoked scarmoza, prosciutto cotto(Ham), basil, parmesan rolled & oven baked in Napoli sauce), Arancini (Crumbed rice ball made with bolognese, peas, saffron served with spicy rosé sauce), Insalata di polipi (Freshly marinated octopus, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil) and for our pizza we picked the Capricciosa (San Marzano tomato,Fior di latte, prosciutto cotto (leg ham), mushrooms, artichokes and olive).
It sounds like a crazy amount of food, but for the most part, the antipasti are single serve, so there was one meatball, arrancini and involtini each. Having said that, they were all incredibly filling.
The meatballs and involtini were good (although I thought the eggplant in the involtini could have been cooked a bit longer), but the winner of the three was the arancini. They were nice and crispy on the outside, then tender, incredibly flavoursome and oozing with cheese on the inside. They were accompanied by a spicy side sauce, but I thought it wasn’t really needed because they were tasty enough on their own. We also had the marinated octopus salad which was also great. The octopus was really tender and perfectly seasoned. It was a really refreshing salad and the perfect accompaniment to the much heavier antipasti.
Our pizza was also great. It had a thin, crispy base and wasn’t drowning in toppings – just the way pizza should be. They clearly use high quality toppings, so when you take a bite you can really taste and appreciate every element. We really enjoyed our pizza and now understand why the crowds flock here every night.
So, if you’re after a great night out with friends give 400 Gradi a crack, you won’t find spag bol or pizza with the lot, instead you’ll get great quality and flavoursome Italian food – just the way it’s supposed to be.