Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Double Zero, Chorlton.

Good pizza has become a near obsession for me in recent years. It's still a rarity in Manchester for some unknown reason. Most of the good ones are street-food traders, although the best in the region, Honest Crust are now permanently housed in Altrincham Market. I also have high hopes for Ply, due to open shortly in the Northern Quarter.
Why is it such an obsession? Well for me, when you're in the right mood, nothing comes close to the sheer joy of shoving a great big juicy pizza in your face. It also seems to be such a deceptively simple thing to get right. The first thing is that you must want to do things the right way. This costs more in time and money.
You have to start off with quality ingredients, spend time developing and perfecting the dough and the sauce. Having a blisteringly hot wood fired oven helps enormously too. It only takes about a minute to cook in one of these.
They seem to have thought of all this at the new pizza place in Chorlton; Double Zero. I was excited to check them out. Even though we earmark Thursday to go, I can't wait, I have to sneak in on my own the night before too.
It's fairly cold and barely decorated inside, unfinished wood and plaster, like a log cabin.
People in Chorlton do love those style over content places, see Croma and The Laundrette for details. With this in mind, a bit more thought on making Double Zero a bit cosier wouldn't go amiss, including the stark lighting which makes the place feel cold and uninviting.
I have the first pizza of the evening as soon as they open at 6pm, which the owner says will be 'the worst of the night'. This is because the oven, a wood fired Stefano Ferrara imported from Italy at great expense, (several thousand pounds) takes a few attempts to perfect as they gauge the temperature and exact cooking time.
It's not perfect but it's still a really good pizza. By a country mile, the best in Chorlton. I just hope if they can just find that formula to get it right every time.
It's imperative to use quality and fresh ingredients, and here at Double 00, they're only using products from the Campania region. This includes Mozzarella di bufala Campana, canned Strianese Italian DOP Whole San Marzano tomatoes and La Farina di Napoli  00 Pizza flour (hence the name).
Like I said, these things matter if you want to do things properly. This is why the likes of Croma, The Laundrette and Pizza Express irritate me so much. They're not doing things properly because these things cost more. They often skimp on cheaper ingredients and in the case of Croma minimise the pizzas and toppings to maximise profit. Who cares? Most people don't seem to notice.
In terms of ingredients, less is usually more with pizza. Thankfully at Double Zero they're not adding anything daft. Strict rules are best followed in this particular style. There are no stupid toppings to speak of. Although I see they sneak in some caramelised pineapple onto one of the pizzas which I can't approve of. A bit of my favourite, N'Duja on the menu wouldn't go amiss either. I have a Calabrese, spicy salami (£8 for the Margherita with additional ingredients, £2.50 extra). It's BYOB though which means that £10.50 is my total spend of the night which is a bonus for me right now.
Neapolitan pizzas are wetter and saucier than the ones you find in Rome, so you'll not normally see them sold by the slice. I think I prefer them, the combination of the sweet tomato sauce, generous amounts of molten cheese (not tiny blobs that you normally get here, a pet hate) and in my case, spicy sausage, is an absolute winner. I'm guessing that the sourdough base is the element which is the trickiest to perfect along with the exact perfect cooking time, seconds can make a difference.
I return the following night with Mrs Bacon and a couple of pals.
There are more mixed results in all honesty. Some pizzas are too sloppy, overloaded with toppings, others are slightly overdone. There is very little of what the experts call 'leoparding', those black char spots you often see on the edges of Honest Crust pizzas. The pizzas are not the main problem though, these can be addressed with practice. There are huge issues with the service which is slow and amateurish at times. It is obvious that they have no experience in running a restaurant. They desperately need an experienced manager to organise them properly on service which is always at least as important as the food. People will forgive sloppy pizza but not sloppy service.
But I'd prefer to cut these guys some slack as they've only just opened and it becomes busier as word of mouth spreads. We still have an enjoyable boozy evening and with the BYOB it didn't cost us much.
New restaurants are more often than not a disappointment but I hope this won't be the case here. Double Zero have seen a massive gap in the market and dropped straight into it. They've done their research so they have a great product. If they can hopefully deliver this properly when the restaurant is full, you have the makings of one of my favourite Chorlton openings of the year. Proper pizza from a wood fired oven just 10 minutes from my house? I'll happily take that.
Postscript. After I published this review it seems word got out that Double Zero have taken a lot of inspiration from Paulie Gee's in Brooklyn US.
Restaurants here often take inspiration from the States, that's one thing but in this case it appears to be a near copy including the dark lighting, the wooden interior and the most importantly, the logo which is a problem. I think they may need to address this issue too.

Menu here.
358 Barlow Moor Rd, M21 8AZ.
*Paid in full on both occasions.
15% discount for take-away.
 Click menu left to enlarge.
Double Zero ''00' Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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