Johnny Di Francesco's 400 Gradi wood-fired pizza empire is rising like well-made dough.
His latest project is 400 Gradi in Essendon, a 220-seat restaurant on the ground floor of the Mink Apartments, which opened on Wednesday.
There's seating for 50 upstairs, which doubles as a private dining room, and up to 50 seats outside, with the main dining room next to the open kitchen.
The interior, designed by South Melbourne studio Lombard & Jack, is moody with dark grey walls punctuated by textured wood panelling and black-and-white tiling.
Di Francesco's menu is consistent with his other venues: salumi, antipasti and, of course, his Neopolitan-style pizzas.
Harry Lilai, until recently the owner-chef at Fitzroy's Town Hall Hotel, has come on board as executive chef of the Gradi Group, raising the menu bar with trademark dishes, including gnocchi di patate with 20-year-old balsamic vinegar and black garlic, and slow-cooked capretto with lemon, paprika and white wine.
Next up for Di Francesco is Zero Gradi, the gelati store he hopes to open in February at shop 1, 93-97 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, serving classic flavours (chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut) made on the premises.
400 Gradi in Essendon is open Mon-Wed 5pm-late and Thu-Sun noon-11pm.
Shop 1, 110 Keilor Road, Essendon, 03 9351 6690, 400gradi.com.au
Correction: The original version of this article published the wrong phone number for 400 Gradi. This has been updated above.