Johnny di Francesco inside the former dance shop on Lygon Street. Photo: Eddie Jim
Johnny Di Francesco, owner and chef at 400 Gradi pizzeria in Brunswick, has suddenly become a very busy man, confirming he's building a bar next door to his Lygon Street business.
Di Francesco won the Campionato Mondiale della Pizza award for the world's best margherita pizza in April.
News of his win was quickly followed by the announcement he would open a new venue at Crown on the site that was formerly Giuseppe, Arnaldo and Sons.
Di Francesco has taken over 99b Lygon Street, in what was a dancewear shop - 400 Gradi is 99a - and he is creating a bar with small plates of food. ''We are still developing the menu,'' he says. ''It will be very different to next door, but still Italian." 400 Gradi Cicchetti will seat about 50 people and the interior has been designed by the award-winning Pascale Gomes-McNabb.
Di Francesco is also redesigning the space that is 400 Gradi, moving the kitchen to the back of the room. He aims to have both the venues up and running by mid-August, while he's due to light the wood ovens at Crown by September.