Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of 400 Gradi Cicchetti.
400 Gradi Cicchetti brings a little piece of Venice to Melbourne. The bar replicates a traditional ‘bacari’- a small, intimate bar typically frequented by locals in the City of Bridges.
Keeping in the tradition of cicchetti, the 400 Gradi Cicchetti menu features small plates including the likes of crispy polenta with mixed caramelised mushroom and gorgonzola, and spaghettini al granchio with lobster bisque, fresh crab meat, garlic, chilli, cherry tomato and fresh basil.
The wine list showcases an intelligent choice of drinking options including an extensive list of Italian wines. Not just appealing for the palate, the 50-seater bar has been designed by award-winning Pascale Gomes-McNabb, one of Melbourne’s most celebrated interior designers.
Situated next door to Di Francesco’s popular Lygon Street restaurant, 400 Gradi Cicchetti is a sleek yet relaxed and informal bar, shunning the grungy look that is today’s Melbourne norm in favour of a more conventional bistro atmosphere.
Our host for the evening was Fulvio. Professional, very knowledgeable, friendly and passionate, Fulvio made our dining experience a sensational one.
Aperitif: Peach Bellini
A beautifully fresh cocktail made from prosecco sparkling wine and peach nectar this Venetian cocktail was a great start to our evening.
Fresh natural shucked oysters
A selection of salumi
The selection of salumi was a display of superlative flavours comprising of a respectable assembly of 18 Months Old Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Mornello, 30 months Old Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Secretum, Mozzarella Di Bufala, Bella Lodi Raspadura freshly shaved Cheese and bread. The Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Secretum and Bella Lodi Raspadura were in particular excellent – both possessing a richness that had been further enhanced by the flavours of the intense curing salt mix.
Beer battered zucchini flowers stuffed with crab, ricotta, and a bit of chilli
The batter encasing the zucchini flower was ethereally light and very crisp while the stuffing was rich and flavoursome. Combined with the sweetness of the crab and the lovely kick from the chilli, the dish was a delight to eat.
Freshly made Arancini balls made with sausage rice and cheese
A traditional comfort-food classic, the arancini balls were beautiful. Each morsel was sufficiently seasoned and flavoursome.
An elegant, dry and aromatic drop with beautiful peach and floral notes, the BIO VIO - Pigato wine from Liguria Italy was the perfect match for our entrees before we continued on to our heavier mains.
Duck ragu trecce
As expected of any acclaimed Italian restaurant, 400 Gradi Cicchetti is particularly good at producing quality pasta dishes. The Duck ragu trecce that we had was no exception. The large spiral pasta were intertwined amongst lashings of tender duck ragu. The flavours were complex and rich. Texturally, the tenderness of the duck contrasted nicely with the perfectly cooked al dente pasta. Fulvio presented it to us as “a wonderful dish” and we could not have agreed more.
Girolamo Russo A'Rina Etna Rosso - Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio wine
The matching Girolamo Russo A'Rina Etna Rosso was a light and exuberant wine with a tight flavour profile.
Margherita verace Pizza
400 Gradi Cicchetti patrons can also include Johnny’s internationally awarded pizza in their dining experience. Johnny took out the number one spot at The World Pizza Championship earlier this year for best STG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialita’ Tradizionale Garantita), with 400 Gradi now being home to the world’s best pizza.
The Margherita verace pizza was picture perfect in appearance and outstanding in taste. A thin layer of tomato sugo, healthy dollops of buffalo mozzarella and a sprinkling of basil leaves created a delightful fusion of flavours that would keep any pizza purist happy. Encircled with a puffy crisp crust, this pizza was superb.
Tagliata Di Manzo - Angus Beef Eye Fillet grilled and sliced served medium rare with shaved parmesan, balsamic cream, capers and baby rocket
Our final main course of Angus Beef Eye Fillet met our expectations admirably. The accompaniments to the beef were simple and delicious. A light searing ensured that each slice was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour. The meat was intense with characteristic Angus beef notes and a deep earthy richness and texturally it was sublime with a decadent melt in the mouth, almost buttery, consistency.
Molino Barolo 2010 From Nebbiolo wine
The beef was served with our favourite wine of the evening. A classic Barolo, the Molino Barolo boasted a bouquet of dark fruit aromas, mint and liquorice. We loved its balanced flavour profile which while quite tannic given its age, tasted beautiful.
Homemade Tiramisu and Pannacotta tasting plate
400 Gradi Cicchetti’s rendition of a pannacotta was texturally perfect. The pannacotta was silky smooth - just barely holding its shape, it was quivering on the plate. The tiramisu was similarly well made, with its flavour heavily dominated by the constituent alcoholic component. Both were simple traditional desserts that were well executed and thoroughly enjoyable.
Passito Di Pantelleria Dessert Wine
Hailing from the sun-drenched island of Pantelleria, this dessert wine was thick and syrupy with intense aromas and a fresh acid finish.
Cheeses: La rustichella truffle paste cheese, Taleggio 'Bufaletto ' made with buffalo and cow's milk, Pecorino Cacio di bacco: Pecorino style cheese matured in pomace and covered with grape
Our evening concluded with a selection of good quality cheeses. Each unique and varied greatly with their distinct flavours and luxurious textures. It was a fantastic way to finish the night off.
400 Gradi Cicchetti combines friendly and affable staff, wonderful ambience, exceptional food and one hell of a beverage list to deliver an enchanting experience - one that transports you to a traditional ‘bacari’ in Venice.
Location: 99B Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9380 2320
Cuisine: Tapas, Bar, Italian
Cuisine: Tapas, Bar, Italian