I initially came across catering company and “pasta atelier” Doppiozero back in early September at Milano Exposed, an event held at Old Spitalfields Market celebrating “the best of aperitivo Milanese.” The encounter was love at first bite.
An offering of polenta with Gorgonzola and walnut was as simple in design as it was flawlessly flavoursome while items such as mini quiches with mushrooms and truffles, and an almond cream tart with pomegranate yielded similarly uncomplicated but richer tasting results and suggested a wealth of cookery knowledge and plenty more cibo buono from where that had come. I expressed my admiration to chef/proprietor Silvia di Luzio. Business cards were exchanged. Twitter profiles followed.
My adoration for Doppiozero’s homemade Italian food and traditional family recipes was rekindled recently when Silvia extended an invitation for me to pop round to her Balham kitchen for a tasting session and an opportunity to learn more about what she and her small team of Italian cooks do. From what I could tell during my visit, what they do is perform culinary magic in a small, perfectly functional – and exceptionally tidy – kitchen workspace.
As at Spitalfields, I was pleased from the start with another simple yet sublime assemblage. This time it was grapes coated in Gorgonzola and roasted pistachios. Every dish I had was one crafted from basic, high quality components, like panissa (sticks of fried chickpeas with olive oil and salt), lasagna (two types – tomato-based and pesto-based – cut into manageable squares and served on canapé spoons), and ravioli (spinach and ricotta topped with ricotta salata). But the piatto forte of the tasting was the torta della nonna, with a custard filling that wasn’t overly sugary or eggy. It was just so – and moreishly so.
It all fits well within the philosophical boundaries of Doppiozero. Named after Italy’s famed “Double Zero” or “00” premium flour that Silvia and team use for their pastas and doughs, the catering companies adheres to the principles that “the best dishes are the “traditional grandma” ones and “have very few ingredients.”
Everything from Doppiozero is made from scratch by hand – including the pasta sheets for the lasagna – with locally grown ingredients and products expertly sourced from Italy. Siliva seemed most proud of the tomato sauce she orders from her home country. The Doppiozero menu is based on recipes from her grandmother’s copy of the classic Italian cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Fine Dining) in which her grandmother’s handwritten notes have proved as useful as the actual text.
Previously a banker in Milan, Silvia moved to London with her partner. At that time she decided to leave the office life behind and get back to the kitchen in pursuit of her dream of making a career out of her primary passion, launching Doppiozero in May 2013. It’s been fairly smooth sailing with an impressive repeat client list which includes the likes of LinkedIn and Google as well as (and just in case you were wondering what other Italians think of Doppiozero’s food) The Consulate General of Italy in London and the Italian Cultural Institute.
Certainly, Silvia and crew keep busy, but she admitted her workload has yet to reach capacity and she’s hoping to take on more clients and wouldn’t mind doing some private chef gigs. There’s still time to call Doppiozero for festive season doings, according to Silvia, but New Years Eve is all booked up.
Looking further into 2016, Silvia aims to expand her atelier but not too much, just more storage space and extended countertops. Hers is to remain still the “last eye” to see her catering company’s creations before those about to eat them tuck in and begin their own romance with Doppiozero.
Find out more about doppiozero at doppiozero.co.uk.