A Love Story: Doppio Zero Serves Up Organic Pizza By The Slice In Downtown Huntington Beach
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a love story.
We recently sat down with Francesco Zaza, who opened Doppio Zero in downtown Huntington Beach on December 20, 2014, without much fanfare. Only his friends and family were aware of the tremendous strides taken to pursue his "crazy idea" to open a restaurant miles from his home in Rome, Italy.
The new space, sandwiched between Meleesa The Salon and Starbucks, is small and quaint. For those who wish to eat their fresh slices on location, there are counter seats inside and freestanding high top tables outside. However, the idea is that most people will take their goods to-go. But don't let the size of the space fool you. Doppio offers a wide variety of authentic Roman, housemade, organic eats.
Sitting with Francesco, you easily grasp the passion and love he has for life. His previous role as the European product manager for Katin-Europe involved much international travel, and it is through this acquired worldview he learned what it truly means to have a full life.
Francesco has an 11-year-old daughter, who resides in Huntington Beach. Although he has spent many summers here, he knew it was not enough. Family is number one, and he needed to be near her. During these years of intermittent visits, he married and is now the father of a young 5-year-old boy. Francesco explains that his wife, Carlotta Zaza, agreed they should all be together and has championed this goal. They started a series of steps that included selling their house, purchasing a business in a foreign county, setting up a new household, applying for business visas, etc., etc., etc.
Loving food as all Italians do, he approached a chef from a pizzeria he frequented in Rome to ask what he thought about moving to California to sell his delicious pizza by the slice. This is where we meet Chef Peter Combi, who comes out smiling from the kitchen and is just as warm and welcoming. Francesco explains that Peter makes all of the goods from pastries to pizza, staying true to the methods learned in Italy. We then meet Luca Paoli from Lucca, Italy; Luca from Lucca, he explains. Luca is a renaissance man and helps out wherever needed.
Throughout the interview, Francesco jumps up to enthusiastically greet and serve each guest. He wants to know everyone in the community and have a true, genuine connection with his customers. Curious and meticulous, he strives to learn every aspect of the business.
Francesco explains that they are in no hurry to pursue a second location or invest in marketing plans. He describes Doppio as something that must be nurtured. They are slowing renovating the space to fit their style, adding sleek and simple white subway tiles to the walls, wrapping the counter with wood, and adding more energy to the space with an authentic Italian Vespa. Francesco credits his wife, an artist, for the beautiful aesthetics.
Of course, this "crazy idea" does not sound so crazy to us, especially after learning that the pizza dough is made fresh with Double Zero "00," a flour imported from Italy and highly favored for creating pizza, pasta, and pastries. The dough is provided 72 hours to rise and is never frozen. All entrees are prepared 100 percent on location with fresh organic produce, which is delivered to the restaurant daily. Francesco, who says Italian food is art, describes Doppio Zero as providing slow food in a fast way. Slow food is music to our ears and sounds fantastic.
Should you arrive early, grab an espresso or latte macchiato (steamed milk marked with a little espresso) and pair that with a Nutella pizza (just as you imagine) or a toasty cheese and ham bagel. Take fresh baked cookies for your friends—and try not to eat them yourself. This may prove difficult because at Doppio Zero, the fresh and inviting smells and flavors are hard to resist.
Midday and evening offerings include pizza and pasta dishes. A simple crisp square slice of margherita—made with 100 percent natural tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil—is always a winner. If you are hunting something a bit more substantial, try the hearty meatball sandwich or the Hangover Calzone (pastrami, corn beef, Swiss cheese, salami, and mushrooms).
Are you feeding the entire family? Pizza is a sure thing, but again, you have many choices. Start with the Doppio Zero salad (organic spring mix, organic cherry tomatoes, dried and sweet cranberries, capers, goat cheese, EVOO, Italian balsamic Modena vinegar) and follow it with lasagna (housemade Bolognese sauces, housemade besciamella, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano) or their amazing Pasta Pesto (housemade pesto sauce, pasta, basil, pistachio, Parmigianio-Reggiano, garlic, lemon skin, EVOO). You will taste the love.
What really takes the cake (pie) is that Doppio Zero offers F-R-E-E local delivery in downtown Huntington Beach and is open (thankfully) until 2 a.m. on weekends. Seems for being new here, they know exactly what we need. Welcome, Doppio Zero. Thanks for giving love a chance.
Through Sunday, February 15, Doppio Zero is hooking up M&P readers with a free fountain drink with purchase of a slice or sandwich. Simply mention this story to score the deal.
Doppio Zero // 221 Main Street, Unit D, Huntington Beach, CA 92648 // 714-969-2929 // Hours: Mon-Thurs: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10-2 a.m.; Sun: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. // Facebook / Instagram