2018: Double Zero has new owners.
July 2015: Double Zero has now been accredited by Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, the very first pizzeria in Queensland serving the true Neapolitan style pizza. Congratulations!
We’re following the hordes on a quest to find the holy grail. Of pizza, that is. Not the biggest, nor the most top-heavy; not the most exotic, simply the most authentic. We’re searching to find the highest ‘appellation’ of pizza: the one that is closest to the true Napoletana philosophy and method.
And we’ve come close. After a wait of five months and a journey across half the world, a handmade Stefano Ferrara M 130 oven was unloaded into Double Zero in Broadbeach. It’s the Ferrari of ovens, one part of an ancient art of making a true Napoletana pizza!
Double Zero emanates a quiet European sophistication, mirroring the young owners themselves. Matthew Slivonik and Martina Jahodová are charming hosts, welcoming guests, knowledgeable yet humble about their achievements so far.
Yet the opening of their restaurant is part of a journey that began with disappointment. Coming to the Gold Coast to study at university, they found little traditional pizza here. To them, as Czechs who had often holidayed in Italy, thick crusts of dough laden with meat, cheese and pineapple did not comprise real ‘pizza’! Passionate about food, Matthew and Martina saw an opportunity to make pizza the way it has been made for centuries in Naples, the true home of pizza! And so their journey began!
Double Zero has the feel of a working kitchen. Decked out by designer Jason Pate (whose other projects include Hellenika and The Fishouse) it’s elemental in wood and whitewashed bricks, mixed on a palette of earth and stone. Fire is present in the form of the newly arrived white-tiled domed Ferrara oven that oversees the restaurant, blessing the kitchen like a Madonna. Renowned throughout Europe over the past 150 years, the Ferrara is fired only by wood, building to the 400-degree heat essential to the making of a true Napoletana pizza. ‘Be true to your origins,’ it whispers, ‘true to who you are.’
Although pizza was first documented in 997AD, it was not until 1984 that the ‘Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’ (True Neapolitan Pizza Association) was founded to protect and promote authentic Napoletana pizza. In December 2009, the ‘pizza napoletana’ was granted Traditional Specialty Guaranteed status by the European Union. Around the world, pizzerias strive to gain V.P.N. accreditation for their pizzas. Australia is no exception, yet there are onlynine restaurants in Australia that have been granted that status.
And so the Double Zero team visited the master of Australian pizza, Chef Johnny Di Francesco, owner of ‘400 Gradi’ and ’90 Secondi’ in Melbourne, Captain of the Australian Pizza team (yes, there is one) and ranked 8th best pizza maker in the world, to learn the finer details of making a Pizza Napoletana.
The first Australian to be Naples trained and inducted into the V.P.N., Di Francesco, familiarly known as the ‘Mr Pizza’ of Melbourne, was eager to pass on what he had learned. The association sets out the specific rules that must be followed to make an authentic Neapolitan pizza.
The base must be made from certified ‘00’ flour (hence this restaurant being named ‘Double Zero’) to a specific recipe, hand kneaded (rather than rolled with a rolling pin), rested for a certain period of time… Using only San Marzano tomatoes grown in the only ‘DOP’ region, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, for topping; the pizza must be of specific dimensions and, (very importantly), baked in a wood-fired domed oven at 400 degrees Celsius for no more than 90 seconds.
“Making pizza is a science,” Matthew tells us, “and we’re trying to craft our pizzas as they would be made in Naples; in a modern way based on Napolitano techniques. It’s all about the quality of ingredients, and the attention to detail. Our Costantini tomatoes are already twice cooked. They’re expensive but their flavor is so important. We only use accredited ‘00’ flour, and our chef, Nicola Masci, is an accredited pizzaoili! In fact, everyone who works in the kitchen is Italian!”
We begin our dinner with a couple of regional Italian favourites as starters: Zucchini fritti with gorgonzola piccante and organic honey; Fritto Misto – Crispy calamari, prawns and baby octopus served with homemade garlic and chilli aioli. They’re impossibly light and barely kissed by oil.
Let’s not overlook the bar! It’s the place for both tradition and reinvention. There’s Pilsner Urquell, a Czech beer, on tap and served in its own imported glasses, a concise but well chosen range of Australian boutique wines, as well as lots of traditional Italian drinks on offer, complete with a modern twist! Barman Michael Kleinert, who trained in Phenomen, one of the best bars in Europe, concocts his own syrups and nectars to make some of the best cocktails in town! I’m a huge fan of rhubarb, so the Rhubarb martini provides an interesting take on a sweet sour combination.
Passing up the handmade pasta, we move on to the main event: a Margherita Verace, allegedly named after Queen Margherita of Italy. It’s the ‘little black dress’ of pizza, beautiful in its simplicity. Simply ripped apart and folded to eat, as it would be eaten in Naples, the crust is light and a little chewy, subtly smoked in flavour from the red gum fire, melting and luscious in the centre. The sweetness of tomato and creamy saltiness of buffalo mozzarella are perfectly balanced on the palate, the base light and easy to digest because of its low yeast content. Simply delicious! An organic Silipo Verde blend provides the perfect coffee to finish.
Double Zero aims to become the first accredited V.P.N. pizzeria in Queensland. We’re reminded that it takes commitment, quality ingredients, knowledge, skill and an eye for detail to transform a simple dish into something great. Plus passion! At Double Zero, there’s plenty of that!
”Producing the right pizza comes from the heart… Real Neapolitan – style pizza is just a beautiful thing.” Johnny Di Francesco
2/2715 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5526 8635
DISCLAIMER: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Double Zero. Food and beverages were provided by the restaurant.
This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.