Tell us your name and a little bit about your new restaurant.
My name is Tim Love, and I recently opened Gemelle in The River District. It is a very fun Euro-American pizza/pasta place that emphasizes freshness in every way.
Why did you select this River District location for Gemelle?
I’ve lived near The River District for over 10 years, and we’ve never really had a neighborhood restaurant. I felt like it was a void that was here even before I moved to this side of town, and I’ve always batted back and forth of wanting to do something here. I’ve always really liked this property. It wasn’t the prettiest property, but I felt like it had the possibility to do something really special. I kept looking at it and then tried to purchase it about five years ago, but it didn’t work out—that’s the restaurant business though. The economics have to work out no matter what you want to do. Finally, the guys who owned the land and I came to an agreement, and it worked out. I fought off the argument with my wife about adding another restaurant, but she’s smart and saw that it could be something special for this area.
What do you want people to know about this restaurant?
There are two things I love in the world: a long lunch and my family. I wanted to build a place where people can have a long lunch, because I didn’t feel like we had that in Fort Worth. There are places you can certainly do it, and they’re great, but I wanted to build a place where you’re comfortable doing that and everyone feels welcome. It’s kind of what I did with Woodshed, where you can just hang out. It’s hard for me to go to Woodshed and not want to have a margarita, so I wanted to build another place like that with a whole different atmosphere. I also wanted to build a restaurant that was more feminine. People always know me to do stuff that’s very brawny, and I wanted to show another side of our culinary acumen.
Tell us the meaning behind the name “Gemelle”.
The working name of the restaurant was “Ella & Anna’s”, which are the names of my twin daughters. For a while, I went back and forth on how Italian I wanted the restaurant to be. I just wanted it to be approachable—I didn’t want it to be a formal Italian restaurant. I wanted it to be fun and a place for people to come have drinks, celebrate, and have an Aperol Spritz because they feel like they’re in Italy. I always feel like American-Italian restaurants need to have two names, so that’s why I was thinking “Ella & Anna’s” would be great.
When I decided I really wanted to focus on genuine, heartfelt, small ingredient Italian cooking, that’s when I started researching names that meant twins or girls. The twin pasta’s name is actually called “gemelli”, which is the male version. Then, I saw that “gemelle” meant twin girls, so I called my good friend Joe Bastianich who was actually in Venice at the time to verify for me that “gemelle” means twin girls. I also called another good friend who is an amazing sommelier and he was able to confirm the name as well. There’s nothing named Gemelle in America at all, so that’s when we decided to go with it.
How much involvement did your daughters have in the restaurant?
My daughters had a lot of involvement in the look of the place. I drew out how I wanted the whole restaurant to look on a piece of paper and our designer came back with some ideas, which really brought my vision to light. Then, my girls and I went over colors, glassware, dishes, desserts, sizes of everything– and they loved it. We wanted to make things really detail-oriented, like the cloth cocktail napkins, which is all reminiscent of being in Italy. Europeans take pride in the details, so we wanted that to be reflective of what we do here. All these little things make you feel special. Even though it’s not super expensive, it still feels authentic.
When you decided to open an Italian restaurant, what was it like coming up with the menu?
I have a full kitchen at our office that we keep stocked, and that’s where I just mess around. We also have our catering kitchen, which is downstairs from the test kitchen. Everything starts in the test kitchen, and then we move it to a commercial format, build it bigger, and see if it still develops the same way.
For example, the pizza dough was probably a 9-month process of testing and changing each element for consistency. This style of pizza dough is very special, which is what gives it those edges. It looks like a deep-dish pizza because of the thickness, but the dough is light, airy, and super crispy. I also like the rectangular shape because it gives you a lot more opportunities to have all the good stuff—it’s awesome.
Did you take any trips to Italy to get inspiration?
Yes, my family and I went to Amalfi Coast last summer and that’s where I got a lot of the inspiration for the design of the restaurant. There’s a hotel that we stayed at in Ravello that really inspired what this restaurant is—from the feel, the music, and the cabanas to the style of the dishes. The garden shows the authenticity to what we do, we obviously supplement, but we also use every bit of the garden. We’ve had a lot of tomatoes ripen today, so we’re going to put a Caprese Salad on the menu tonight that comes purely from the garden. The mozzarella comes from Naples, which is where we were testing pizzas last summer.
When your guests order an Aperol Spritz, what should they expect?
Aperol Spritz is the drink of Italy and the perfect ‘before dinner’ drink. It’s slightly bitter, not very sweet, opens up your palette, and a little bit sparkling. It’s also not very high in alcohol, so you can have two or three of them before dinner as you relax with friends. We want everyone to come and have an Aperol Spritz and enjoy it.
Our goal is to change people’s minds on how to eat dinner. In order to have a real experience when you go to a restaurant, you need to allow yourself to immerse into what that experience is. I wanted to build a restaurant where people can immerse themselves in the experience and enjoy the conversations with the friends they’re with. If you were in Italy and they offered you an Aperol Spritz, you wouldn’t question it because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re in Italy. I wanted that full experience at Gemelle—from the Vespa in the parking lot to the vibrant music inside. It’s a place to come and act like you’re on vacation: hang out, play some bocce, and just relax.
The garden is a large part of the experience here at Gemelle. How do you know so much about gardening?
When I was a kid, I spent my summers in Cookeville, TN for my dad. He had a one-acre garden, so one of my chores was taking care of the garden. I didn’t really know anything about it, just that it was something I had to do. When I first started cooking in college, I applied to be a bartender, a host, and a server to help pay for my school, and they offered me a job making salads. I told them I didn’t know how to cook, but once I started, I realized I knew so much about the food—I just didn’t know how to cook it. It’s kind of opposite of what most people do. I also love the competition of being in the kitchen because it’s like a sport to me. I just love it.
If someone wants to visit Gemelle, where can they find you?
Gemelle is located at 4400 White Settlement Road in The River District. We open at 5pm every night for dinner and are also open from 11am-3pm Friday through Sunday for lunch. You can also check us out on Instagram for more information.