You may have heard this one before. Two brothers leave their respective jobs and lucrative career paths in investment banking and law to go into the family business. However, this time, the business is the all-too-risky venture of restaurants. Nevertheless, co-owners, and brothers, Louis and Joseph Barresi of Stamford, recently opened Doppio (41 E. Elm St., 203-340-9470), an Italian restaurant specializing in fire-ovened pizza and homemade gelato, one block off The Avenue.
Growing up in Stamford, the Brothers Barresi often helped their parents at the family deli in Greenwich (and Doppio's neighbor), Paesanos Deli (146 Mason St., Greenwich, CT 06830 | 203-625-0040 www.paesanos.org/). Choosing to initially pursue careers outside the family realm, the boys went into banking and law. Yet, according to co-owner Louis Barresi, while studying law he could never quite shake the inate passion for food and wine. "I've always been into food and wine," he says. And so, as soon as the corner space on Mason Street became available, he and his brother leapt at the opportunity.
Designing the place themselves along with employing, Italian-bred, family-friend and resident pizziolo, Giuseppe, the two brothers, along with their younger sister, Laura, are regular fixtures at the restaurant, overseeing the day-to-day operation and ensuring the family business becomes a second-generation success.
Stopping in for a late lunch on Friday with my son in tow, I was happy to see a diverse crowd. There were tables of teenagers, a mom and her two kids, a multi-generational table, mom, grandma and son, and a few tables of ladies lunching. There was even the requisite solo diner with his iPad in the corner. Ever the consumate host, Louis offered me a mini-tasting of the house specialties which, began with a dish of roasted scallops, prawns and calamari that had been specially fire roasted in the restaurant's signature brickoven and then drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon. As I cut into the scallop, Louis told me that the restaurant receives its order of fresh seafood daily. Indeed, it tasted as such.
Next I was brought a steaming plate of chitarra-like noodles (super-thin) in squid ink (the black sauce) with vongole (clams). Being a rather devout fan of spaghetti alla vongole - whenever its on a menu, I feel compelled to order it. I was thrilled to see this plate laid before me. I must admit that, after a few bites, I found myself missing the tangy aftertaste of the white wine that usually comprises the dish's sauce. Nevertheless, the squid ink was both pungent and fresh tasting, making me believe that with a tweak or two, they could create an even more rewarding dish.
Following the pasta came the piece-de-resistance; the pizza. Displaying his commendable service skills once again, Louis brought me a Quattro Stagione pizza having recalled me saying that Quattro Stagione (Four Seasons) was my favorite. (Yes, it's the one with pretty much everything on it - prosciutto, artichokes, olives and mushrooms.) Fortunately I had made sure to leave room since the pizza was, by far and away, the best of the three dishes. Made just as they do in Italy with a thin, bubbled crust, freshly grated mozarella cheese, that gets just the right level of gooey, and teeming with a generous amount of toppings. Simply put, the pizza was yummy. I couldn't help but offer a respectful nod at Giuseppe as I wolfed down the first slice.
In an effort to try as much as possible and offer you all a review that encapsulates the Doppio experience, I forced myself through gluttony, and indulged in bites of two subsequent dishes: a mushroom polenta and a pacheri pasta with a tuna, caper and tomato sauce. The polenta was creamed to perfection, and so decadently buttery that I would recommend ordering this to share while the pasta sauce was good and salty, just as capers and tuna from the Mediterranean taste.
And finally, I was treated to a sampling of Louis' daily-made gelato. His pride was evident as he scooped each flavor. I was quick to declare Fragola (strawberry) and Vaniglia (vanilla) as my two favorites among the 6 available. He told me he was busy working on his favorite for the following day, a particularly proficient Nocciola (hazlenut).
By the time I finally pulled myself up from the table and wheeled my son out the door, I couldn't help but recognize the distinct post-meal combination of fullness and satiation. Yup, it was just as I felt after various meals while touring Italy for my first book, "Italian Hideaways." Just as Mae West famously said, "Too much of a good thing, can be wonderful".
I recommend you check out the pizza and gelato of Doppio for yourself. Buon Appetito!
EXTRA TIDBIT: The name Doppio, which means double in Italian, was given to the restaurant to symbolize the double offering of pizza and gelato.