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Double Zero Pizza: Media opening

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Last week, I was invited to the media opening of Double Zero Pizza. In the increasing trend of gourmet pizzerias, Double Zero is the answer for the downtown core. Taking the space vacated by the former Tangerine Supper Club in Banker's Hall, Double Zero has a heavy-hitter in the form of Justin Leboe, formerly of Rush, as one of its partners.

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Though Tangerine is no more, its namesake shade remains on the large light fixtures in the basement space. It's a rustic-meets-urban space, with the area under the stairs wallpapered like a giant library, and pig paraphernalia everywhere.

The menu, as the name says, focuses predominantly on pizza, and between Cheryl and I, we tried all 10 varieties. Though they do use san marzano tomatoes, Double Zero isn't Neapolitan-pizza certified like some other places in town. Since they aren't bound by the strict methods, the crust is thin, similar to California-style, with no charring. Gluten-free crust is available upon request.

The first pizza hit it out of the park. The pepperoni was the best I've ever had. Seriously, I was wondering where it had been all my life. Apparently, right under my nose. When I asked, I was told that they get it from Paolini's, whose deli my family has frequented over the years, and whose niece I was friends with in high school. I can't believe with all the food I've had from there over the years, I'd never tried that, but I know I haven't - I would have remembered.

Next up was the spinach and potato pizza that's been getting a lot of buzz. The potato is thinly sliced and pre-cooked to virtually eliminated all the starchiness, which makes it work nicely. The egg that's cracked in the centre may not be everyone's cup of tea, as it does make the pie a little damp. I didn't mind, because it reminded me of pizza in Brazil, where it's customary to pour olive oil on top.

A couple of my fellow foodies said that they found the salami quite spicy, but I didn't think it was too much. In general, I thought the meat pizzas were excellent. In addition to the pepperoni, there was a non-greasy homemade fennel sausage, and a mortadella pizza that was made more interesting by the addition of pistachios, which I really liked both for the flavour and texture. The only one I found a little blasé was the chicken confit, but Cheryl had it as one of her top three favourites.

The vegetarian pies were tasty as well. A mushroom pizza was nice and nutty. Another was topped with ricotta, roasted garlic, pine nuts and rapini. Cheryl's first couple of mouthfuls contained little rapini (also known as broccoli rabe), and her exact comment was "it tastes like the inside of a perogy. And that, to me is delicious." Though slices with more rapini were less perogy-esque, she was right about the flavour.

My favourite, aside from the pepperoni, was the speck topped with arugula. It won't be for everyone, but the spiciness of the arugula went well with the cured ham. If you like a pizza with the salad built right in, as I do (Barefoot Contessa's White Pizzas with Arugula are one of my favourites), you shouldn’t miss this.

For those who prefer salad solidarity, Double Zero also offers independent salads, as well as appetizers, paninis, and some grilled items. For the happy hour crowd, there are upscale "bar snacks" like meatballs, calamari, warm olives and roasted cauliflower, which Cheryl was dying to try. I guess we'll have to go back. Shucks.

Though this isn't a traditional review, as I was a guest and (obviously) not anonymous, if it were, Double Zero would get a much higher score than their name indicates.

Double Zero Pizza
751 4 Street SW
(403) 265-9559

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