Oodles of Noodles
Over the weekend I spent my afternoon in Emory Village with Double Zero’s executive chef, Edwin Molina. It’s about 2:45 p.m. The restaurant is still dark but I hear the faint sounds of Pink’s “U + Ur Hand” coming from the back of the house. I follow the music until I quite literally stumble into the bustling kitchen. Even though the restaurant doesn’t open for another few hours, the sous chefs are hard at work– hovering over an enormous pot of bolognaise sauce and prepping dishes for the busy evening ahead. The music (still blaring) changes to “Fade” by Kanye West as I head into the glass-enclosed pasta room off the kitchen.
Chef Edwin laughs. “Don’t worry. The Spotify playlist goes quiet once dinner service begins at 5 p.m.”
He ties his shoulder-length hair into a bun and begins work on the dough. “I spend a good part of my day in this room. Several hours at least.”
Today we’re making fettucine. Edwin measures out the flour and forms a little volcano with the white powder. He makes cracking eggs seem as easy as brushing your teeth. “I’ve been making dough for a really long time” he says. “My first job in South Georgia was at this pizza joint when I was 14 years old. I just loved making pizza. It was so simple and yet so delicious.”
As he methodically kneads the fresh dough atop the semolina flour, he tells me about his history with the Castellucci Hospitality Group (CHG). After a stint at the popular Decatur spot, Iberian Pig, Molina swapped Spanish tapas for Italian carbs, but not before meeting his future wife, a then server at Iberian Pig.
“There are a lot of inter-restaurant love connections. If it wasn’t for the Castellucci’s, I wouldn’t have my 5-month old daughter.”
After nearly six years at the original Double Zero location in Sandy Springs, Edwin and the team packed up and moved to Emory Village in 2016. The new space is unexpectedly trendy, with exposed brick, neon signage, and murals created by Atlanta street artist Greg Mike. The team describes inspiration for the design as “Italian influence on New York street culture to create an edgy, modern atmosphere.”
You could certainly say the same about the menu. Chef Molina and his team of sous chefs meet weekly to brainstorm new dishes and analyze the old. “It’s actually quite a science. I come in most days at 8 a.m. and set marching orders for the week. We look at which menu items are performing well and get creative with nightly specials. It’s fun to play around with seasonal ingredients to come up with something awesome.” His favorite menu staple? The OG DZ Pizza with fior di latte, garlic oil, arugula, prosciutto, and Grana Padano cheese.
As Chef Molina rolls out the dough into long, thin sheets, we chat about his other favorite food spots in Atlanta. “I live off Buford Highway, so I’ve become sort of this guru for international meals.” His top choices? Quoc Huong Bahn Mi Fast Food for pho and El Rey Del Taco for late-night Mexican bites.
He’s also not afraid to give kudos to other restaurants around the city. “St. Cecelia has an awesome pasta program” Molina says. By this point he’s skillfully slicing our egg dough into long, thick noodles. After a sprinkle more of semolina flour (he goes through nearly 250lbs of this stuff per week), our fettuccine is ready for tonight’s dinner service; and I’m ready to dig in.