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Double Zero Napoletana restaurant review, Sandy Springs

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The waiter has come to the table, and we both stare intently as I poke a knife through the many unusual things on top of my pizza ($16). Shredded goat meat, blue cheese, papery slivers of potato.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

“A ha, here’s one,” I say, pulling out a reddish-brown nubbin. “I know it’s a cranberry.”

The waiter tries to convince me that I’m eating sweet onion, if not suffering from a slight bout of Craisin brain. (It’s been known to happen to parents who spend their best years packing school lunches.) But I persist. So he consults the kitchen and soon doubles back with the news that, yes, unannounced cranberries adorn the goat pizza. “Do you like it?” he asks worriedly.

Actually, I kind of do. After a couple of meals at Double Zero Napoletana, I find that cranberries on pizza seem no stranger than Parmesan on pasta.

This Sandy Springs restaurant is the latest venture from the Castellucci family, who run two branches of Sugo in Roswell and Johns Creek and the Iberian Pig in Decatur. All share a more-is-more attitude in piling on ingredients and garnishes.

At first glance you see a straightforward menu of pizzas, pastas, cured meats and grilled entrees. It’s Italian! But then you start reading. There’s North African spice in the salami, porcini “dirt” on the salad, and drizzles and dollops and pomegranate pips galore. It’s like the kitchen starts with simple tunes but plays them on a pipe organ with every stop pulled. You may never notice the melody but still find pleasure in the opulent, baroque arrangements. An expansive spirit helps this busy food.

Executive Chef John Coley (photos by Becky Stein)

Executive Chef John Coley (photos by Becky Stein)

Named for the finely milled flour essential to Neapolitan-style pizza, Double Zero greets you with two beautifully tiled wood-burning ovens hand built by Stefano Ferrara, the third-generation owner of the Naples-based oven maker Uno Forno. You walk past the ovens into a vast, handsome dining room ringed with comfy booths and anchored by a lineup of communal tables stretching through the center. You can be in the middle of things or find a nice corner and settle in with the enormous, wordy menu.

Does the cocktail list catch your eye? It should. How much fun to drink a negroni ($15) with gin, Carpano Antica vermouth and Campari aged in a barrel for six weeks in-house, its sharp edges buffed by a mellow smokiness. A classic Old Fashioned ($9) comes bold and strong over a cube of hand-chipped ice. The Neapolitan Sour ($10) plays Betty Draper to the Old Fashioned’s Don; this feminine citrus/ginger libation comes shaken with egg white to a pinkish froth.

L'arrosto and fixin's

L'arrosto and fixin's

You and your posse may want to order drinks and the enormous, shareable appetizer called l’arrosto ($29) and call it a day. It starts with a 1½-pound hunk of pork butt braised to saucy, shred-apart opulence. Add in a basket of flatbreads, baked in the pizza oven and quartered, so that you can pull them open like fresh pita. All kinds of garnishes — from roasted garlic spread, to pepper jelly, to apple mostarda — come on the side. Appetizer, schmappetizer: This is dinner for four.

Keep exploring the menu, and you meet the many faces of the Double Zero kitchen. Chef John Coley has a fine-dining background that shows in magazine-cover dishes like prosciutto and pineapple carpaccio ($9), paper thin and set with teensy stripes of sweet sauce and embryonically small greens. The caprese salad ($13) unites roasted cherry tomatoes, still in a cluster, with good, creamy burrata and spherified dots of balsamic caviar.

Tomato salad with burrata

Tomato salad with burrata

And then there are big, messy crowd pleasers. Crab-stuffed calamari ($19) come heaped on a pile of squid-ink black pasta with gobs of tomato, garlic and olive oil. It’s an easy thing to stuff in your face before the excess oil separates. A giardino salad ($10) unites all kinds of fancy veggies (carrots, baby turnips, heirloom radish) with candied pistachios and that porcini dirt in a whole lot of lemon vinaigrette. A perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked piece of red snapper ($32) tops a hilariously massive heap of panzanella salad with brioche croutons and an entire community supported agriculture box of salad veggies in tomato jam.

Are you beginning to see what I mean? There’s a lot of razz matazz going on here. I loved eavesdropping on the older guy at the next table who, upon hearing a lengthy description of daily specials and an even lengthier spiel about the unusual pizzas, asked, “Do you just have a meat lover’s?”

Actually, the house specialty pizza ($16) offers a nice switch from jazz to classical, with its toppings of arugula, prosciutto and good bufula mozzarella on a light, tasty crust with good texture. The huge wedge of zucchini cake ($5) is really just like a green carrot cake if you squint, and it’s a pretty good one at that. Lamb polpettine ($9) features a trio of juicy meatballs that have been breaded, fried and poised on slivers of mozzarella. In context, this is one of the more restrained dishes.

But it all gets to be too much if you’re not careful. What is the weird brown puree under the braised octopus leg ($12)? The waiter says parsnip. Parsnip in June in Atlanta? Really, brah? Does anyone actually like the tasting of cheese-flavored ice creams ($9)? It’s interesting, I guess, how the goat cheese tastes like nothing and the Parmesan cheese tastes like the mummy’s crypt, but I wonder how much of the menu’s novelty is necessary.

It is a question I ponder when the rapini e salsicce ($16) fettuccine hits the table. It’s an excellent rendition, with silken ribbons of fresh pasta, lean nuggets of sausage, bitter rapini greens and a beguiling flavor that grows more interesting with each bite.

Owner Federico Castellucci III, the young family scion whose vision brought this restaurant to life, comes to the table as we’re slurping away and raving. Thrilled, he says, “You know what really brings everything together in this dish? Lemon honey.”

He’s right. You have to take this place for what it is and roll with it.

DOUBLE ZERO NAPOLETANA
5825 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-991-3666
2stars5
Food: pizzas, pastas and Italian dishes with a kazillion creative twists
Service: Has that special old-school Italian restaurant warmth to it. Hands may be kissed.
Best dishes: l’arrosto, lamb polpettine, Double Zero pizza, zucchini cake, cocktails
Vegetarian selections: quite a few
Credit cards: all major
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Children: Fine for kids who can handle the noise and energy of a big, open space.
Parking: valet
Reservations: yes
Wheelchair access: full
Smoking: no
Noise level: High but not unpleasant; you can usually carry on a conversation without screaming.
Patio: not yet open
Takeout: yes, everything but the pizza

ratings_key_febUSE

47 comments Add your comment

Reds

June 30th, 2011
8:12 am

That house special pizza sounds just about right up my alley. :)

Foodie wish

June 30th, 2011
8:44 am

Went last night…it was OK…the menu needs a little ‘weeding out’…I had the House special Pizza and while I thought it was yummy, it wasnt extraordinary. My friend had the Rapini pasta, it looked yummy.

Everyone was nice, but seriously we got asked 5 times how our dinner was once or twice is fine…and when my friend wanted bread to soak up the juices, it took 10 minutes to flag someone down & get it..

I’ll go back….. in about 6 months. Gotta let this new menu shake out….
.

Barbara

June 30th, 2011
9:21 am

I am curious regarding this cranberry, was it fresh or dried? The reason I ask is that, if I had ordered something that came with an unadvertised dried cranberry – and I had inadvertently consumed it – then I would have to bust out my epi-pen and would end up in the hospital.

It is unbelievably irresponsible for a restaurant to put ingredients in something and not tell people. Especially when it is not something that is typically on that food item. I am very aware that my allergies are my responsibility, and I ask about things constantly, but really do I now need to ask every time I order pizza if it has cranberries?

Alexis

June 30th, 2011
9:37 am

Went just after they opened and was impressed but a little frustrated with a complicated menu lacking simple dishes. Servers are good but not great (albeit inexperienced when I went), decor is nice but feels a little too spacious, and the food is exciting yet overindulged. The Castelluccis knocked it out of the park with Sugo and Iberian Pig. A solid infield hit with Double Zero. I will go back, but it will be a tougher sell than their other restaurants.

Mike

June 30th, 2011
9:50 am

I went to Double Zero a week ago late on Thursday night. Lots and lots of waiters for the number of people, but I guess they are new and want to make sure everything runs smooth. We tried the Burrata Caprese for $13 and we were really shocked when we saw the size of that salad for that price. very very small. 4 cherry tomatoes and a miniature plate of cheese on the side. You could have the whole thing in one bite, may be two. We tried 3 pizzas. The best one was the mushroom pizza with truffle oil and I added an egg to the pizza which really made it good, but $5 for an egg on top? That’s outrageous as this is not a 5-star dining experience. You are serving pizza and it is hard to justify $5 for an egg, The pasta dish with sausage my son tried was very small. As a matter of fact, before we stared ordering, the server warned us about the small portions.

Here is the part that ruined the evening for us: We ordered dessert. The Shakerato that is explained as espresso blended with coffee ice cream, and the cheese flavored trio of ice cream. My son has sever life threatening allergy to hazelnuts so we explained that to our waiter, asking him to make sure there is no hazelnut in our dessert and he assured us that neither one had hazelnuts. The espresso-coffe ice cream drink came to table first. Small glass. My son picked up a small spoon and tried just one spoon. Immediately, he started having allergic reaction in his throat. We flagged the waiter down and asked him if there was any hazelnuts in the ice cream. It took him a few minutes to come back with the manager appologizing, telling us that they used hazelnut ice cream. This after I specifically explained to our waiter that my son had severe hazelnut allergy. We had to rush home to get to his medicine. The manager gave us a gift certificate to Sugo in Roswell, but that does not make it right. They need to train employees on anything that has nuts. We were lucky that our desert was liquid, very small, and my son only took one spoon to taste it. Had he had a complete dessert with hazelnuts we would have ended in the hospital that night.

I still tipped the waiter 18% which made my wife mad.

FoodFan

June 30th, 2011
9:54 am

$15 for a negroni? I’ll stick with Antico.

Mike

June 30th, 2011
9:59 am

By the way, I seriously question their choice of location for this restaurant. Right off 285 is nice, but traffic in that area is hurrendous. And that location has previously been home to several other sport bars and restaurants, all of which failed and closed. Soon, city of Sandy Springs is going to work on the 285 bridge to widen it, but in the process, they are going to close the median and turn lanes to releive the traffic, so going south on Roswell road you can not turn into that location and who wuld want to cross 285, go further down, do a U-turn to get access. The biggest negative is that the area around this location is the little Mexico City of Atlanta with lots and lots of apratments filled with illegal immigrants. American Pie across the street had a thriving business over there from 1986 when they opened up until a few years ago and they went out of business there.

ABC

June 30th, 2011
10:25 am

After reading the story about the allergic reaction to hazelnuts, I’ll never go to this place, and no I have no food allergies. I think it’s irresponsible that even after checking and being assured there were no hazelnuts in the dessert, they used *hazelnut ice cream*!! What? The original poster should have not only not tipped the waiter, but should have had the whole meal comped for that huge blunder.

JesusFreak

June 30th, 2011
10:31 am

Is the zucchini cake sweet or savory? Intriguing!

Johnny

June 30th, 2011
10:37 am

We have eaten here twice. Both times we have all had a wonderful experience. Menu is well priced for the quality. Service was great the first time, a little slow the second time.
Overall well rated and will continue to support them, as the food is delicious.

JimmyZ

June 30th, 2011
10:48 am

Got to agree with ABC…I’m pretty much allergic to nothing, but have a problem with this. If someone asks, there’s usually a good reason. If they’re lucky, Mike hasn’t already called a lawyer

M. Johnson

June 30th, 2011
10:52 am

Hate to hear about the allergy issue. That was a big blunder.

I agree that waiters must understand what’s in the dishes they serve. But I don’t want to see every ingredient listed on a menu because then it becomes a recipe book.

The owner and staff really do try to create a nice dining experience so I will return for the service and creative dishes.

RK

June 30th, 2011
12:02 pm

The concept of some of these dishes -sounds- good, but as I’ve learned with them, they usually add too much of a good thing. There was something at Iberian Pig that was just fine, until they added some sickeningly-sweet sauce.

And while I like the idea of the Negroni, there’s no way I’m dropping $15 for a cocktail at a place on Roswell Rd and 285.

Mike

June 30th, 2011
12:10 pm

I also own and manage a restaurant in Sandy Springs so I gave the server and manager a break on the hazelnut ice cream issue. But the fact that I mentioned it and the menu clearly says “coffee ice cream” and they still used hazelnut ice cream for our dessert is truly inexcusable. Listing every ingredient on the menu is not a good thing but nuts should always be listed. For example, a lot of people have wheat allergies and almost any meatball or a lot of burgers out there have bread crums in them but not listed. Listing them on the menu is not appetizing. Our menu is very detailed and all nuts in any dish are clearly listed on the menu and I make it a point that our servers know and mention any nuts as nut allergies are common and can be severe and life threatening. Customers with allergies usually ask and in that case, if the server is not sure they ask me to go to the table as I know every single ingredient in our menu.

KEAD

June 30th, 2011
12:14 pm

Wow, I’m stunned to see some of the comments here. I’ve been twice, once was within the first week they opened, and I’ve had stellar experiences both times, to the point that I’m considering Double Zero as the best new restaurant to arrive on the Atlanta scene in 2011.

My burrata salad was different from what you described: I had two large, roasted, vine-ripened tomatoes along with a very decent portion of burrata. I loved the goat pizza, and I adored the cheese gelato, especially the blue — I thought it was neat to experiment with the different pairings of walnuts and such. I liked the parmesan, too.

The second time, I had an amazing porchetta special with figs, pistachios, morels, and more — so good! Loved the rucola salad. The staff was attentive and engaged both times.

I absolutely plan to return and to take my father the next time he’s in town.

I’m surprised to hear about Mike’s experience, given that service has been so responsive on my two visits, but that’s absolutely horrible. I know that your server was probably new, but it was wholly incumbent upon him to be certain that nothing containing hazelnut arrived at the table after you let him know about the issue. That’s unacceptable. I’m glad your child is okay. If there is a silver lining, your experience probably taught that waiter a valuable lesson, and he will be more conscious of it with other diners, assuming he’s still employed there.

I will return because my experiences there have been fantastic. I have a family member with celiac, so we’ll see how we fare in that situation.

Federico Castellucci

June 30th, 2011
12:30 pm

John, Thanks for the compliments. However, as the restaurant owner, I wanted to respond to a couple of the comments about allergies. We do in fact take allergies extremely seriously. Mike, I have addressed your specific experience with my entire staff on 3 separate occasions at our staff meetings. I have literally lost sleep over this specific issue, and I hope that you will give us a second chance. I know my manager gave you a gift card, but I’d like to make sure that we go above and beyond if you decide to give us another chance. Please email me at fwc3@castelluccihg.com if you would. I am truly sorry and hope that you reach out to me.

We have been working tirelessly since we opened to hire and train a great staff. We have made great progress on this, but we still have a little ways to go. Great restaurants are made in years not weeks. Ultimately, all of our restaurants are about taking care of the guests in the seats, and doing everything we can to make sure they come back. It is not about food reviews or bloggers, sorry John, because they don’t come back and become repeat guests. We have been successful because we focus on the most important thing: you as the guest who has decided to spend your hard earned money in our restaurants. Thanks and I hope to see you at Double Zero!

Mike

June 30th, 2011
1:20 pm

Fredrico,
Thaks for taking time to address this issue. As someone else mentioned, the silver lining is that that particular server will probably never forget to check for food allergies when they are specifically mentioned. We will definitely be back at your restaurant becasue we all loved your pizza. It is hard to please my 16 year old son who is a foodie at such young age and he was very happy with the food. My younger son’s allergic reaction was mild that night since he only had a small spoon and we immediately gave him his allergy medicine that we always carry with us. I wish you success with the new venture as Sandy Springs definitely needs more great restaurants.

eatoutatlanta

June 30th, 2011
1:58 pm

OK….!!!!!!!!

drew

June 30th, 2011
2:14 pm

I feel like a 2 is pretty low for the quality/pricepoint ratio here. I think Double Zero is the most exciting restaurant to open in Atlanta in a long time. The combination of a stellar coctail line up and the AMAZING La Arrosto with great pizza make this at least a 3 star spot!

John Kessler

June 30th, 2011
2:51 pm

You’re a class act, Federico.

Grasshopper

June 30th, 2011
3:29 pm

Mr Castellucci’s classy response now makes me want to travel to Sandy Springs to try his new place.

And John, you made the food sound like it is worth the trip.

M. Johnson

June 30th, 2011
4:59 pm

I agree with John. This truly is a lovely restaurant and I definitely will return.

All the best to them in a tough dining market.

K

June 30th, 2011
6:23 pm

I had a fantastic experience at Double Zero – the lamb meatballs melt in your mouth!

I encourage everyone to give this place a try as the Castelluci’s have done a great job and Sandy Springs needs a place like this.

KEAD

June 30th, 2011
11:39 pm

You know, I’ve been mulling it over since this afternoon, and I think two stars is too low. I appreciate both their innovative menu and their ability to execute it — everything I’ve eaten has ranged from good to downright fantastic (more porchetta, please).

I have no affiliation with the Castellucci family or any of their establishments. Indeed, I like some better than others (I prefer DZ and Iberian Pig to Sugo, for example). But of the ones I prefer, I sure do love DZ, and I’m thrilled to see this kind of dining available OTP.

[...] a conversation began in the comment section of John Kessler’s review of Double Zero Napoletana about food allergies and how they are handled in restaurants, and it got me [...]

Ash

July 1st, 2011
7:30 am

I was incredibly underwhelmed by the food here. The fancy oven gave the pizza a passable crust, but the toppings were flavorless (how do you manage to get flavorless tomatoes in their peak?). Seemed like seasoning was a problem as well. We had the octopus dish; a burnt flavor overpowered everything, and the random ingredients didn’t seem to go together. Also had the arancini – too sweet, not properly seasoned. Blackberry jacqueline to drink – tasty, not worth the cost. The menu was too large, too confused. I can’t imagine how things would have changed to garner this review, as I was not impressed at all.

Mike

July 1st, 2011
9:33 am

I’ve been down to double zero a few times now and have found the food exceptional. The first time the service was just okay (opening week) but the following times it has been excellent. I do agree with the general consensus of ‘Wow, there’s a lot going on in most dishes’ but I don’t think that it detracted from the dishes that I’ve eaten there (L’arrosto, Double Zero Pizza, and the Everything but the sink pasta)

I love the nigroni and thought the wine list was well selected. I would and have recommended Double Zero to my friends and family.

Doug

July 1st, 2011
10:08 am

I eat “out” more than 300 nights per year — all over the US. Living in Atlanta I’m always looking for a GREAT new place to eat — Double Zero fits that bill. Fantastic open spaces, attentive service, notable attention to detail. Yes the menu is a bit more than I care to completely understand but try a few things and roll with it — everything I’ve had there is fantastic. My ONLY constructive comment would be to speed up the bar service and that’s even stretching for something to improve. Once this spacious, ambitious new restaurant finds its “groove” you’ll have a tough time getting a table. Go there now and get in on the action early. Highly Recommended.

Debra

July 1st, 2011
11:09 am

We have been Castallucci fans for years! Sugo in Roswell is our favorite restaurant in Atlanta – we even had our wedding reception there.

We went to Double Zero for the first time recently and LOVED it. The ambiance is really hip and the menu is very creative and different from the every day. The fact that they imported their pizza oven from Naples, Italy is so great. This is a new favorite for us and I don’t think the access atlanta reviewer has a clue – this is WAY better than two stars! Sugo will always be 5 stars to me and Double Zero should be at least 4.

jimmy

July 1st, 2011
11:23 am

+1 On liking Federico’s class response.

Billie

July 1st, 2011
11:34 am

Kudos, Mr. Castellucci. I will put your restaurants on my list to try.

Carla

July 1st, 2011
11:36 am

Love…love The Castallucci family restaurants. Went to Sugo’s for my birthday a few years ago and it was such a memorable experience that it is and has been our GO-TO place when we really want to be treated special. Can’t wait to try their new place out!

Tyrone Biggums

July 1st, 2011
11:41 am

Definitely want to add this to my “splurge” list. I’ve been to Sugo and loved it.

Niklas

July 1st, 2011
1:14 pm

Just wanted to salute Federico for having a very interesting list of Italian craft beers, including several that I had never seen before. A great surprise for the beer enthusiast.

JimmyZ

July 1st, 2011
2:03 pm

John, I think that response rates another star. I now know I have to give the place a shot, even though it’s a hike from way up here in the suburbs!

SugoFan

July 1st, 2011
3:26 pm

My husband and I were already planning to visiting DoubleZero for Tuesday lunch, but Federico’s response makes us want to go even more. We can’t wait to see what you have in store.

David G

July 1st, 2011
6:32 pm

A great addition to the neighborhood! If you are looking for a chain type Itailian you will be sorely disappointed because Double Zero is in a class by itself and worth the splurge. My wife and I treat ourselves to a nice restaurant about once a month and along with the Sugo at clocktower, it has become a staple.

The whole Castellucci family from the mom Nancy to dad and all of the kids are a class act that other restauranteurs should strive to emulate in terms of both service and quality. Welcome to the neighborhood and continued success to the C family and all of your restaurants!

Sophie's Choice

July 1st, 2011
10:03 pm

Federico’s response doesn’t surprise me– he IS a class act, and so is his father. They understand what true customer service is, and instill that in the staff of their restaurants. Have I had a few uneven dishes in their establishments? Yes. Will that stop me from going back? No, because they were the exception, not the rule, and because I’ve always had stellar service from them. Bonne chance, Federico, with your new endeavour!

Chef'n

July 2nd, 2011
1:47 am

Frederico is a true blessing to the Atlanta food scene. I dined at Double Zero and loved what I saw. Fresh ingredients, attentive staff and true class act. Cant wait to come back.

john

July 2nd, 2011
12:05 pm

wat is ther to say that hasnt been said ? OH YA Caffe Fortunato in Sandy Springs/East Cobb is head and shoulders better!!! better Pizza, Better Pasta, Better all around thanx but no thanx “doppio zero”

FelNoNo

July 3rd, 2011
5:19 pm

Good customer service is so hard to find that I will visit Double Zero simply based on the classy response from the owner… Good luck to you! Wishing your restaurant much success… I plan to definitely give you a try.

george

July 3rd, 2011
5:42 pm

how much are servers, at sub minimum wage (aka the new america) expected to know. he/she will obviously rely on cooks/chefs when the menu contains an error like misidentifying the flavor of ice cream used. would you expect complex tax advice from a seasonal walk in tax preparer who relies on suckering you into a refund anticipation loan to make any real money?

nofreecheese

July 3rd, 2011
6:29 pm

Having eaten at their Duluth restaurant as well as the new one in Sandy Springs my major complaint is they oversell; they ramble on too long about the specials and upselling. The food is good; although a tad on the pricey side–but they do serve quality dishes.

Still, I wouldn’t go back unless they assured me they would reduce the time they spend upselling–it’s like having strippers hound you for for table dances.

George needs to Wise Up

July 3rd, 2011
7:06 pm

@George, anyone with a good elementary education would know that a waiter that is very well educated on the menus items(contents and such) is just as important as a waiter who gives good service. They In fact, the educated server always gets an extra tip from me.

Grillmanstein

July 4th, 2011
4:59 pm

Federico should not be made a hero due to his response. He is just a chip off the old block. At the Sugos his father “Mr. C” is quite adept at careening from table to table with his plastic smile incessantly asking diners about the meal, while the kitchen produces mediocrity.
For those who are sold by that show, enjoy! For those who want more substance go elsewhere.

Chef'n

July 6th, 2011
1:22 pm

Dont get it twisted people its a new restaurant and i firmly believe that it will do fine. Haters will hate and foodies will feed. Love the atmosphere and food is a plus…

Sophie's Choice

July 6th, 2011
7:56 pm

Grillmanstein, spoken like a true sac le douche!