Weekend Eats ATL

…because calories don't count on the weekends


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A+ for Antico (as always)

Weekend Eats has been on a little bit of a *hiatus* lately, but last Saturday, I had one of those meals that was just too blogworthy not share.  If you live in Atlanta and like pizza, then you are probably aware of what has become known as the “Antico cult.”  If not, you should probably change that ASAP.

I’ve already given a rundown of the entire “Little Italia” experience in a previous post, so I’ll skip straight to the pizza.  We were lucky enough to enjoy our meal in “the dough room”, a private little room in the back with a view of the entire restaurant.  No chairs – just a few bags of flour, a lot of wine (courtesy of the BYOB policy), good company, and the most delicious pizza you’ve ever had.

Antico Atlanta

Best part about the room? That little air conditioner in the corner, as the rest of the restaurant is AC-less (and the ovens are HOT)

The Margherita D.O.P. is nothing short of perfection.  The ingredients are simple, yet delicious.  The bufala and San Marzano tomatoes are flown in every week from Italy.  Even during the middle of winter, the tomatoes are fresh and better than ever.  A bit of garlic and basil complete the dish.

Antico Atlanta

The D.O.P. is pretty D.O.P.e.

Antico Atlanta

Oven to table

The thing that really sets Antico apart, though, is the dough.  It’s thin, but not too thin, and never fails to deliver on the crispiness factor.  This is likely due to those imported-from-Italy wood burning ovens that can heat to over 900 degrees.  The fact that it only takes about 60 seconds to cook a pizza is quite impressive.  Apparently I am not the only person who favors the classic Marg., because it is also Antico’s best seller.

Antico pizza Atlanta

Think it’s toasty back there?

The Diavola is a close second to the Margherita.  If the spicy sopressata is the star of the pizza, the pepperonata is without a doubt the best supporting actress.  The sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes simply melt in your mouth, while the heat of the spicy salami keeps you on your toes.

Antico Diavola pizza

The devil is in the details, or in this case, the Diavola

Last but not least, the San Gennaro is always a crowd pleaser.  This pie is topped with the above raved-about bufala, sweet red peppers, fresh cipollini, and most importantly, loads of Italian sausage.  The sweet peppers are bursting with flavor and pair so nicely with the savory salsiccia.

Antico San Gennaro pizza

We ordered two of these, naturally

So whether you’re taking out or dining in, Antico is the place to go.

Antico pizza

Pizza + champs for the win

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Little Italia: Atlanta’s Piazza di Perfection

In the last few years, Antico Pizza owner Giovanni Di Palma has transformed his highly successful pizza joint into his own Italian empire.  In addition to Antico, Piazza San Gennaro is now home to Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, Caffé Gio Gelateria & Pasticceria, Bar Amalfi, and Bottega Luisa.  Little did I know when I accepted an invitation to dine at Gio’s this past Monday, that I would actually be experiencing “Little Italia” in its entirety.

I made an uncharacteristic Monday exception to my weekend eats policy for a friend’s birthday dinner.  This particular friend also happens to be a friend of Giovanni’s, so it worked out pretty well.  We had a beautiful table set up for us in between Bar Amalfi and Bottega Luisa, and Gio cooked us a fabulous meal.  The meal started with wine, ended with limoncello, with a lot of delicious food and good company in between.

Antico Pizza atlanta

Friends 🙂

Our first dish was the grilled prawns that you can find on Bar Amalfi’s menu.  These were no ordinary prawns, however.  They were without a doubt the largest prawns I have ever seen in my life.  They were so large, in fact, that someone at the table actually confused them for lobsters.  The simple salt and olive oil preparation really highlighted the delicious and fresh flavor of the seafood. They were cooked to perfection, and served hot off the grill.  A+ all around.

Bar Amalfi Atlanta

I never though a shrimp could actually be big enough to split 3 ways.

Next came the pizzas.  There is no question in my mind that Antico has the best pizza in Atlanta, and this meal was no exception.  We sampled 1 each of the Margherita D.O.P, the Capricciosa, and the San Gennaro.  Everyone always raves about the San Gennaro (which is definitely worth raving about), but my personal favorite is the Margherita.  The Margherita D.O.P. is the perfect combination of the freshest San Marzano (plum) tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, basil, and garlic.  Also, you can never go wrong with the delicious taste of a wood-fired crust.

Antico Pizza atlanta

Best. Pizza. Ever.

The Capricciosa is the way to go if you love prosciutto, which is perfectly paired with artichokes, mushrooms, and bufala, of course.  The San Gennaro is definitely a good option if you like a meatier pizza.  The spicy sausage-sweet pepper & onion combination is pretty mouthwatering.  This pizza was gone before I had time to blink.

Antico Pizza atlanta

Not my finest picture, but delicious pizzas nonetheless

In the end, it all comes down to the quality of the ingredients.  Antico’s ingredients come straight from Italy, and you really can’t get any better than that.

Approximately three minutes later, the pizzas were gone, and we moved onto chicken.  Gio’s chicken, to be more specific.  Like the prawns, the chicken was simply prepared, and served hot off the grill.  First, we tried the spicy diavola chicken.  The chicken was covered in a garlic-peppery rub, and grilled crispy.  It was served with a spicy barbeque-like sauce that tasted so much better than anything you can buy in a jar at the store.

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

The chef himself in action

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

Chicken in the making

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

The final product

The Sorrento lemon chicken was even tastier that its predecessor.  The chicken was lightly brushed with a garlicky olive oil and grilled with sliced lemons, fresh from the Amalfi coast.  The skin was so crispy and flavorful, I couldn’t get enough of it.

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

If life gives me lemons, I’d much prefer this chicken over lemonade.

An Italian meal isn’t quite complete without pasta, so it only makes sense that the pasta came next.  Gio brought out a giant bowl of his sorrentina maccheroni napoletani, and it disappeared almost as quickly as the pizzas did.  He made sure to taste it first, just to ensure that it was perfectly al dente, which of course it was.  The pasta was topped with crushed cherry tomatoes, bufala, garlic, basil, and olive oil.  At this point, I was pretty convinced that I was actually in Italy.  That dream ended at approximately 5 am the next morning when I woke up and realized I actually had to go to work.

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

Perhaps “bowl” of pasta is a slight understatement

Gio's Chicken Atlanta

Perfectly al dente

Eventually, all good meals have to end, but not before dessert is served!  Gio concluded the meal with an assortment of sorbets, presumably from his Caffé Gio gelateria across the street.  I couldn’t help but to try a spoonful of every single one: coconut, pineapple, lemon, mango, orange, and chocolate, of course.  It’s probably not a surprise that the chocolate was my favorite.

Caffé Gio gelateria

I loved the dessert presentation – so bright, fun, and unique.

Caffé Gio gelateria

Round 2.

Caffé Gio gelateria

Round 3.

Even after all of that, a birthday is never truly complete without a birthday cake, so we had one of those too.

Gio's Atlanta

Thanks, Trey, for having the most fabulous birthday dinner ever.

Everything about this meal in Giovanni’s Little Italia was absolutely perfect – the ambiance, the phenomenal service, the delicious food, and of course, the company.  This meal was definitely a weekend eats exception worth making.

Gio's Atlanta