Photograph by Heidi Geldhauser
After five years in Sandy Springs, Double Zero Napoletana closed its doors earlier this month. Now, the restaurant is set to re-open in a new space (formerly Ink & Elm) in Emory Village, with a new name and a new menu to boot. When doors open on September 6, diners can order dishes like artichoke al forno, smoked brisket pizza, halibut with farro and broccolini, and campanelle from executive chef Edwin Molina. The bar, managed by Nick Dolby, will feature both British- and Southern-inspired cocktails (Dolby hails from England).
We spoke with owner Fred Castellucci (Iberian Pig, Cooks & Soldiers) about the changes.
Why did you close the Sandy Springs location?
It was a matter of timing. Our five-year lease was up. They had sold the building. We were told there was going to be a redevelopment and there was a lot of uncertainty around whether we could be there for the next five years.
Why choose Emory Village? It’s vastly different and pretty far from your original location.
Once we decided it move, it was really about opening up to the whole city. I think there’s an opportunity in Emory with this great density and access to all the great intown neighborhoods.
It’s a total reboot from Sandy Springs. Five years ago, the concept was super authentic Southern Italian cuisine and it wasn’t met by the community with complete open arms. We had to change some things out of the gate to be more classic appetizer-and-entrée-focused. With the new neighborhood, we want to go back to the original idea of sharable family-style small plates with some larger items for a more vibrant dining experience where you can try more things. No dishes except the shaved Brussels sprouts salad are making the move with us.
Why did you decide to move away from pizza in a college area?
It was a tricky decision, but we found that the focus on pizza pushes people to order an individual one and not try the rest of the menu. With the new Double Zero, you order a few small plates and extruded pastas to share and maybe a pizza for the table. I really believe the best dining experience is where you never get tasting fatigue. By limiting the number of pizzas and making them less traditional, we force people into trying other things. It’s about creating a more well-rounded restaurant. We still have Neapolitan pizza. We have two new custom-tiled ovens. But we’re putting a different spin on it and different toppings–not as classic. There’s only four pizzas on the menu.
Is that why you dropped “Napoletana” from the restaurant’s name?
It’s about not focusing the menu on being Italian-Italian and really being more about the flavors of super-delicious Italian-oriented food without tying ourselves to a specific region of Italy. We want to be able to evolve the menu continuously without being restricted.
What does the new space look like?
It has a cool old-meets-new thing going on. It starts with Southern Italy meets the U.S. and our American street culture. It’s connecting the gritty neighborhoods in the lower East Side. We brought in two street artists to do the entire wall on one side of restaurant and a smaller wall on the bar side. You know the big grates that close off storefronts when they close? We have two of those, brightly colored, to guide you toward the host stand. The woods are rougher, and there’s a paint drip effect, plus some small neon installations in the bar areas. I wanted it to be louder [than the original location]. It’s smaller. We wanted a more manageable space. A bigger space limits what you can do with the menu.
Do you have any other new restaurants or locations in the works?
We’re looking at spaces closer to Sandy Springs for another concept or a duplication of something else. Iberian Pig would be the next natural thing for us to look at doing a second location since it has such a loyal following.
Double Zero will be open for dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.