Interview with Chef Johnny Di Fracesco of Gradi Crown on how to get the perfect pizza at home and what he loves most about Melbourne
|Gradi Pizza Pie – Best in the world|
1. What’s the secret to a great pizza?
High quality ingredients. What you put into your pizza – from the dough to the toppings – is absolutely what makes or breaks it. I also believe that fewer toppings is the secret to a really great taste, I’ve never believed in loading up a pizza with as many ingredients as you can!
2. For people with pizza ovens at home, what are the best ways to control the heat and fire of a HOT oven?
There are a few ways to manage the temperature – the easiest is of course a temperature gauge. The flour test is another good one, which you can do after an oven has been burning for about an hour and a half so it should be close to ready to start cooking. Scatter flour inside the oven, and if your oven is at the right temperature to cook the flour will start to turn golden then darken but not too quickly. If the flour darkens quickly and starts to burn, the oven is too hot and you should stop adding wood to the fire.
|Gradi – Best Pizza in the world|
3. What’s next for you?
I’m working on opening another restaurant in Essendon which is exciting. It will be a similar concept to 400 Gradi, but like Gradi at Crown, it will have its own personality and take on the menu.
4. How would you describe Melbourne’s dining / food scene?
Eclectic and evolving. I love that there are so many different variations of dining available here – you can eat from a food truck or you can experience absolute fine dining. All facets of the food spectrum are covered, and there’s always something new happening, somewhere new to eat, some new food trend to try. It’s food heaven!
5. Where are your favourite places for pizza around the world?
Naples of course – there are so many great pizzerias in my home town that I find it difficult to get to all of them whenever I am there. I can also admit that I don’t mind a giant slice of New York style pizza when I’m in the USA!
6. What are your favourite spots for eating / breakfast and coffee in Melbourne?
I spend so much time at Crown and on Lygon Street that most of my favourite spots are centred around those two areas. There’s a great Cafe, Code Black not far from 400 Gradi that I stop in at when I have time to grab a coffee, but to be honest I spend most of my time in my own restaurants so I tend to literally live, breathe and even eat Gradi Group!