Doppio Zero, a popular Italian trattoria, has been open for just over a year. At a recent dinner I had the opportunity to sample 13 dishes, some signatures and some newish, here a few brief thoughts. A slideshow of dishes appears at the end.
Burrata – eggplant jam, watercress, pickled red onion, 15-year aged balsamic. While the burrata was not as creamy as some I have enjoyed, the taste was spot on and the other players on the plate complementary.
Grilled Octopus – spicy Nduja sausage, frisee, preserved lemon, black olives. Although I found the octopus a little chewy the dish was saved due to the addition of the delicious soft sausage. For me seafood and any spicy meat is always a good start to a great dish. I didn’t pick up on any preserved lemon but as dishes were being shared perhaps another diner had a lot.
Fried Prosciutto Balls – ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino, honey dew melon sauce. A play on both Sicilian arancini rice balls and the classic ham and melon antipasto. One of the more memorable dishes due to its creativity and taste, and a hit with all at the table.
Tagliolini allo Zafferano – soft shell crabs, saffron, ginger, garlic, pepperoncini. This dish could almost change my mind about soft shell crabs, which I think are highly overrated. In this case they actually added to the dish. The duck egg pasta silky and cooked to perfection, had been infused with the saffron, ensuring that the flavour of the precious spice was present but not overwhelming. The ginger was subtle, almost too subtle.
Tagliatelle – classic bolognese sauce, nutmeg, parmigiano. A comforting dish of al dente pasta with a sauce that tasted of Italy, as if you were visiting an Italian friend’s grandmother and this is what she had cooking on the stove. The nutmeg was discernible, as it was in other dishes. It is easy to understand upon trying why this dish is a signature.
Grilled USDA Prime Ribeye – bone marrow, anchovy and garlic butter, gremolata. Despite the steak being cooked more rare than I generally like (it was cooked to the temperature the chef recommended), the beef was of such high quality that I was still able to enjoy it. I would have liked more gremolata on the plate as its zesty herbaceousness was a perfect palate balancer to the rich marrow served in the bone.
Whipped Lardo di Colonnata served with grilled focaccia. This had the potential to be one of the most memorable dishes, but for me whipping it ruined it. Yes, it gave it air and made it spreadable, just like whipped butter, but it reminded me of my childhood when my grandfather would spread some solidified fat left over from a roast dinner on toast and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I always enjoyed this humble snack but expect lardo to be a higher culinary experience. Lardo di Colonnata is a delicacy that has had many a chef in rapturous rantings of ecstasy when it is served in the traditional way of uber thin slices that melt on the tongue. In this form it is impossible to be taken to such gustatory nirvana.
Beetroot Ravioli – gorgonzola, Italian butter, poppy seeds. This signature for me was a fail. Its appearance I found off-putting, the colour of the stuffing through the pasta looking more like raw meat than earthy beetroot. I found the taste equally disappointing, the beetroot itself did not have a lot of flavour, and there was little cheese, resulting in a prominent taste of plain pasta and butter. As a signature, and from the description, I was expecting more, which may have built the dish up too much for it to live up to what my mind had imagined I would see and taste.
Chitarra – sea urchin, crab roe, tarragon. While all of us tried and enjoyed this signature pasta dish we were all in agreement that the combined one-note richness of sea urchin and crab roe resulted in a dish that would be too much for one person to eat in its entirety.
Neither here nor there
Truffled Fried Oysters – black truffle aioli, creamed spinach. While the elements themselves were nice, combined they merged into nothing special.
Spaghetti – Amatriciana, guanciale, red onion, tomato, pecorino. Nice enough but nothing about it made it standout. It was the pasta equivalent of a wallflower, while the other pasta dishes were more social butterfly.
Ricotta Crusted Lamb Chops – ceci beans, grilled red onion, orange segments, guanciale. Sounding delicious but not matched in taste… nothing wrong with the dish it just didn’t have a wow factor.
Affogato – milk tea gelato, espresso, peanut butter cookie. An homage to the local drink yuanyang, a combo of milk tea and coffee, this affogato is tea, coffee and dessert all in one cup. I like to have mine separately, which probably accounts for why the dessert made it to the neither here not there category.
With more dishes working than not, and a couple of memorable winners I would certainly go back for another meal at Doppio Zero. Maybe next time I will try the weekend brunch.