When it comes to appreciating the finer things in life, the Italians really know how to do it! We’ve teamed up with Peroni to celebrate Australia’s top Italian culinary gurus as they let us in on their favourite local spots for drinks, dining and more.
This edition, Johnny di Francesco, the founder of world-renowned pizzeria 400 Gradi takes us on a tour of his favourite spots for eating, drinking, and playing in Italy, including some of the county’s best restaurants and bars.
Gradi is synonymous with delicious Italian food the world over. Which is why, when it comes to finding the best food, drink and cultural hot-spots in Italy, we went straight to the source—Johnny di Francesco, the founder and pizza guru behind 400 Gradi, Gradi at Crown, and the newly opened Gradi Essendon, for his top picks for a delicious Italian getaway.
Whether you’re planning an Italian getaway, or just keen to learn from one of the masters about what really makes Italy so incredible, read on for some of the best Italian hot-spots to be found in the motherland of pizza, pasta and ice-cold Peroni.
When it comes to summing up Italy, Johnny can only think of one word: Pizza.
Cioccolati Italiani, Milano
Of course, you can’t holiday in Italy without paying a visit to Milan, one of the most stylish cities in Europe. Home to the biggest design festival in the world, as well as being a fashion capital, it’s not only the creatives who go the extra mile:
“Cioccolati is considered one of the best gelaterias in the country and they have choices that you just don’t see here—like dipped cones, meringue topping, whipped cream—the list goes on. If you have a sweet tooth, you will find it difficult to leave this place, but expect to wait in line no matter when you go.”
Enosteria Lipen, Taverna
Situated at the foot of the Cila mountain range in southern Italy, Taverna is a historical city that still contains areas that were built in 400AD. As well as being home to some incredibly well-preserved sights, you will also find one of Johnny di Francesco’s favourite restaurants, Enosteria Lipen, hidden just outside of the Triuggio village area.
“This total gem is an hour outside of Milan and almost 600km from Rome, but it’s considered the best restaurant in the area for a reason. Great food, great beer, and great service—they have the trifecta. The dough of their pizzas is so light that you can’t go wrong, regardless of what you’re ordering.”
Excellence Gelato, Nervi Genoa
Excellence Gelato is pretty self-explanatory, even for those of us who don’t speak fluent Italian. Situated in the northerly coastal town of Nervi Genoa, the traditional gelateria makes for the perfect dessert pit-stop. As for why it makes Johnny’s must-visit list?
“Can I just say really yummy?! I love this place—the product is top quality, and the flavours are great, with some alternatives to the traditional range you find around town. It’s the ideal place to stop at night after dinner too, as it’s not far from the water… It’s great for a stroll with a sweet treat.”
Amalfi Town Square, Amalfi
“It may be a tourist central, but I love the town square in Amalfi,” says Johnny about the coastal hot-spot that’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
“I'd never eat or drink there because the prices are outrageous, but it's a gorgeous spot to wander through and take in. You can see the mountains in the background, you're only steps from the water and a short ferry ride to anywhere else along the beautiful Amalfi Coast.”
Ciro Salvo, Napoli
Another beautiful bayside city, Naples, or Napoli to the locals, is considered the mecca of pizza. Invented by a local baker, the famous Italian dish is perfected by Ciro Salvo, one of the best Neapolitan pizzerias around. Johnny lets us into his hot tip for avoiding pizza hanger:
“For those who know their pizza, Ciro Salvo is considered a must-visit in Naples. That can mean long lines at times, so go early if you’re not happy to wait for a table. If you do have to wait for your food, rest assured that it will be worth it!”
Pizzeria al 22, Napoli
If you can’t stand waiting in line, Pizzeria al 22 is your slice-serving saviour. The petite Naples restaurant is off the beaten track, making it a favourite with locals and more in-the-know travellers alike. The food is also 100% authentic, making for a truly locals-only experience.
“This place is a great example of a local restaurant in Naples where you can avoid the crowds and sample some authentic food. It’s where locals eat and, if you’re not looking for it, it’s very easy to walk straight past it.”
Want more? Johnny shares some local Italian inspiration with his top Italian-Australian finds.
We’re incredibly excited to be working with Peroni to introduce you to our Persona: Peroni personalities and their favourite hot-spots around the country. Li amiamo, Australia!