Double Zero Napoletana

August 8, 2011 · 14 comments

in atlanta, dining out

double zero

It’s tough out there for a blogger. You visit a restaurant in the opening days, you’re a glory-seeker and the pros roll their eyes at you, especially if you pan the place. Wait a few months, and those writing for a living have already provided their official starred review.

It makes me wonder about the value of my blog; if it’s already been thoroughly covered by the press, what can I add to their generally excellent summaries?

Besides being a source for early intel, I like to think a blog can survey a more casual approach, without word count limits and maybe a few more photos than a newspaper can provide. One can also begin to associate with a blogger, identifying with their habits and tastes, and maybe learn a few things. Are these assumptions delusional?

Though I, myself, am still on an educational culinary journey, I do receive a fair amount of inquisitive emails and I do my best to respond. I’ve learned a considerable amount about cooking pizza from Jeff Varasano’s website, and about fried chicken and Sichuan cooking via emailing back and forth with Rowdy Food. The first time we were introduced, I left Rowdy’s home with an armful of Jacque Pepin cookbooks, Sichuan peppercorns, and Maldon salt. There are lots of kind people eager to talk about what they’ve learned, and a blog is just a different form of that. Sharing the gospel, according to Escoffier.

I do wonder if people associate with my eating obsessions, if they find themselves at a similar point on the learning curve. More than likely they just want a few sometimes-pretty pictures. Either way, it’s still fun for me, I just feel dumb when posting on restaurants that have been reviewed and blogged a dozen times over.

If I haven’t lost you yet, onward with the post!

A couple of weeks ago was my first visit to Double Zero Napoletana, where I was especially nervous about taking good photos as our dining cohorts were the uber-talented Scobey wedding photographers. Unfortunately it’s somewhat dark in the unexpectedly large restaurant, and I don’t have the bucks for a big boy blogger lens yet. You know, one of those that make everything look ridiculous even with it’s pitch black.

It’s been routinely chronicled that one of the biggest issues with Double Zero is that they over do it. Too many elements to the dish, too many sauces, just too many conflicting or cloaking flavors in general. I found that the service was the same. Numerous people came to our table to chat (whether we were talking or not), including the owner, and our waiter was of the super stoked “Hey guys and gals! What can I do ya for?!?” varietal. Of all the things to gripe about, overly attentive service isn’t really a big deal, but it’s noticeable and sometimes broke conversation.

double zero

We started with arancini, fried risotto. A good place to start. They lack the finesse of the light and aromatic version at Cakes & Ale, but they weren’t too heavy or full of mushy rice, the only way I can see screwing this up, save for burning them in the fryer.

double zero

The octopus definitely succumbed to the habit of over-doing it. I could barely taste the arthropod amongst the red pepper sauce and the white bean pureee. It was also a smaller piece than expected for $12.

double zero

The pork belly with polenta and egg was everything it should be - gluttonously rich and full of calories. It’s heavy, but when sharing it’s very manageable. It’s not a must order for me as I don’t want an appetizer to put me down for the count, but I was happy to try it.

double zero

Our first pizza, the classic Margherita, arrived quickly. Basil, sauce, and cheese coverage were proportionally excellent, and the crust was sporting a very promising set of leopard spots on the crust. We cut our pizza with the scissors provided to us and dug in. Except for a slight gumminess in the interior of the cornicione, and a dough flavor that doesn’t quite compare to the sourdough I’ve come to love at Varasano’s, I found it to be delicious. It wasn’t soggy, or soupy, though it could have probably used another 10-30 seconds in the oven to finish off that crust. The toppings and the sauce (my favorite part other than the crust), were quite good.

double zero

We were having no problems attacking the first pizza when the Affettati with soppressata, sausage, and pancetta arrived. This one was even crisper, with just the right amount of salty cured pork on it. Though at $17 I think it’s priced $2-3 too much for the size.

double zero

I shared the rapini and sausage pasta with Katie, though I was directed to eat all the sausage. It’s not the prettiest of pastas dishes, in fact, I might call it homely, but I mean that in a good way. It felt like how I’d make this dish at home. Not perfect, but satisfying.

double zero

The Scobey’s paglia e fieno (“straw and hay”, so named for the colors of the tagliatelle) had a similar rustic look, and while I didn’t taste it, they seemed to enjoy it.

double zero

I was quite full at this point, but when the ladies insisted on dessert I didn’t put up much of a fight. I just had an espresso and pushed through. The Nutella terrine was easily my winner from the dessert flight. The hazelnut rich chocolate flavors with banana gelato are right in my wheelhouse.

double zero

Truly, I don’t remember much of my one bite of the ’00′ chocolate cake. Though, I do know it satisfied the cake/chocolate tooth in one gal.

double zero

They brought us a few cannoli, either because we spent a bunch of money, or because I was taking photos, moving dishes around to stage shots and what not. They also waived the $15 corkage fee for the two bottles that I brought. Blogger benefit? Maybe. But I also ensured to share my wine with the wait staff, and I’ve found providing alcohol to weary (or overly excited) waiters is a sure way to earn some brownie points.

double zero

We had a very enjoyable meal overall. A few misses that I wouldn’t expect at this price point, and the staff is a bit too chummy for my tastes, but we had a lot of fun and I left full and happy. The menu is large, and having a selection of cheeses, meats, pastas, and pizzas that range from good to very solid is going to please a lot of people. Their location on the edge of the ‘burbs (but still only 15 minutes from my house on the Westside) is sure to attract both ITP and OTP crowds, so it’s easy to see them being a success. I’d like to see them nail down a few dishes and maybe adjust the price point on a few items but I’d definitely go back.

Double Zero Napoletana on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.foodiebuddha.com Foodie Buddha

    a) don’t ever doubt the value of your writing – you’re well versed, articulate, and have no qualms about admitting when you’re not sure about something
    b) you’re pretty different relative to the other news sources and big blogs in town – as you spend some time reviewing, but a lot of time educating and recapping what you’ve learned. as a guy still cooking for one – i envy that freedom of cooking for two.
    c) i spend much of my time reading your posts and saying “fuck – i wish i had said it that way!”
    d) there’s a reason why rowdy handed you all that stuff – and while part of it is that he’s a nice fella – you played a role in that there sitcheration.
    e) speaking specifically to the value of your voice – let me point you to http://37signals.com/svn/.  admittedly that’s a different topic but the point remains the same: you are signal in a sea of noise.
    f) enough with the charades – please just edit the first paragraph to accurately reflect glory-seeking bastardization of “food ethics” that I carry with great pride.

  • Former waitress

    The waitstaff was too chummy after you gave them alcohol?!  WEIRD.

  • Broderick

    Nice shots!! Great points made in your write-up. I haven’t been yet, although that’s more due to distance than anything. 

  • http://www.eatitatlanta.com jimmy

    Hah, good point. 

  • http://www.eatitatlanta.com jimmy

    Thanks B! 

  • http://www.eatitatlanta.com jimmy

    You’re took kind Buddha, I appreciate it. It’s interesting to hear outsider’s perspectives in such a personal project. 

  • Guest

    if it isn’t Antico, it isn’t worth it.

  • http://www.eatitatlanta.com jimmy

    Overrated! Toppings are amazing. Vibe is fantastic. Dough is sooo filling and inconsistent. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XC4PMFUCSAARVY3EUEQ3JFSSTE GJ

    The pictures look pretty good; I speak from experience when I say that low lighting in restaurants can really make photography laborious.  Have to agree with “Guest” – Antico is the best, period.  Varasano’s is not in the same league, but of course that’s just my opinion.

  • @ATL_Legend

    Had same issues with dough….so close, but still not there.  A (big) step behind Antico and Varasano’s to say the least. 

    I think the menu is slightly overpriced, but it is in a location that should be able to support that $ point.

    Another note is that the menu is quite large with pizzas not exactly being the focus.  Hopefully they can get their pizza dome/over dialed in and start consistently producing (great) pies.

  • Nikkibrown22

    All very interesting.  I must try it myself and then weigh in on the topic of the dough!  If you are into free recipes, I have lots on my blog at http://www.mygotogirl.webs.com/apps/blog

  • The Saucy Server

    Your blogger lens trumps my point and shoot! These photos look great.

  • http://foodnearsnellville.wordpress.com/ Food Near Snellville

    Jimmy,

    Found the comments here from the comments in the “Chicken and Beer” post, but  you’ve said something  I utterly believe. The value of the independent, original blogger is that he (or she) has  (through dozens of posts) well defined tastes. The readers can then calibrate their tastes to the blog. So yes, the mainstream media have their place, but they are also constrained by the business side of what they do. 

    It’s often easier to cut through the nonsense on a smaller, more accessible blog than it is to find  that review that was just cycled off Access Atlanta. So yes, dead on with the idea bloggers speak their mind and others figure out if it’s useful to them.

    FnS

    PS  - much happiness in your new marriage!

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