Gourmet Chefs Plan to Open Wood-Fired Pizzeria at Double Nickel Brewing Co.


Dylan Sambalino and Dylan Sweeney have been friends for a decade, during which they’ve built resumes at some of the top restaurants in the country. Now they plan to sling pies together in Pennsauken.

By Matt Skoufalos | August 16, 2023

Double Nickel Brewing Company in Pennsauken. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Two chefs with a decade of experience in high-end restaurants across the country are planning their first joint venture together in South Jersey.

Dylan Sambalino of Haddonfield and Dylan Sweeney of Barrington, friends since culinary school, are bringing a passion for pizza to Double Nickel Brewing in Pennsauken, where they hope to open up an onsite kitchen this year.

The pair, who met in Denver in 2012, boast expansive culinary resumes.

Sambalino worked his way up from sous chef to chef de cuisine at Hearthside in Collingswood, joined Eric Leveillee at The DeBruce in the Catskills, and then headed out to the three-Michelin-star Manresa in Los Gatos, California.

Sweeney and Sambalino moved out West together, rooming with two other chefs in a small apartment. While Sambalino was working at Manresa, Sweeney joined Mark Liberman at AQ Restaurant and Bar, and from there, picked up with Kim Alter’s opening team at Haven in Oakland.

“We did that for as long as we could, and decided that we wanted to be close to our families,” Sweeney said.

When the duo came back to the East Coast, Sweeney joined kitchens like Cadence in Philadelphia and Talula’s Table in Kennett Square. Sambalino followed his brother, Tony, to the pizzeria Queen City Crust in Beach Haven, where they first connected with some of the team from Double Nickel.

Dylan Sambalino (left) and Dylan Sweeney. Credit: Dylan Sweeney.

“It’s been my end goal to open my own pizza restaurant,” Sambalino said.

“Pizza’s always been a passion; I’ve always traveled to work with pizza chefs.”

Sweeney echoed his friend’s sentiments.

“Since the day I met him, he knew that whatever else he did, he wanted to own a pizza shop,” Sweeney said.

“When he first made the dough, I was ready to talk a little smack, but I ate it, and I had nothing to say.”

In June, Double Nickel received approvals from Pennsauken Township for its plans to fit out a small kitchen space within the brewery on Route 73.

Now the pizzaiolos await word from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJ ABC), which holds final say over any changes in licensing that would enable the production brewery to serve food onsite.

“We really think it’s going to be a great added piece to the tasting room,” said Double Nickel GM Brian Needham. “We have this opportunity to work with well-trained chefs to create an even better experience for our visitors.

“We’re just waiting for everything to be approved,” Needham said.

The plan for the kitchen turns around a wood-fired, gas-assisted Fiero Forni pizza oven, from which the Dylans will pump out homemade pizza, sandwiches, and “somewhat elevated” bar snacks, Sambalino said. For all their gourmet training and work experience, the chefs want the menu to be high-quality but unfussy.

“We’re doing the nice steps for ourselves to maintain what we come with,” he said.

True to his word, Sambalino is fastidious about the dough. His process includes a 24-to-48-hour bulk dough fermentation before it’s shaped, followed by another, shorter ferment, and then a final five-to-six-hour proof on the day before cooking.

The planned site of the pizza kitchen at Double Nickel Brewing. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The pizzas will feature Jersey Fresh tomatoes and Grande mozzarella cheese, along with other locally sourced and from-scratch ingredients.

For Sweeney, who’s been working the canning line at Double Nickel for a year now, the project “just makes sense.

“We have the ability to open up something that we dream is going to be good, and we already have a client base,” he said.

“We want to start it off as approachable as possible, and take it from there.”

But the bottom line for both chefs is that they’ll be working together on the project.

“I’m excited to cook with one of my best friends,” Sweeney said. “Whenever we get together and cook, the food’s good, and I think people will love it.”

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