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


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“And I’m BACK in the Game…”

The 70-degree weather this past weekend reminded me that spring, and more importantly, patio season, is right around the corner.  In preparation for lots of outdoor eating and patio drinking in the coming months, I decided it was time to dust the cobwebs off my blog.  I haven’t actually given up my weekend eating habit in the last few months, I’ve simply found that between working, traveling, and an MBA program, free time is more difficult to come by than it used to be.  I’ve actually enjoyed a handful of delicious meals over the last few months, so rather than writing an extremely long post that will bore everyone to tears make everyone extremely hungry, I’ll stick to the highlights:

Kevin Rathbun Steak

My birthday dinner in November was the perfect opportunity to re-visit one of my favorite Atlanta steakhouses, at which point it officially became my number one favorite.  The 12-ounce bone-in filet was everything a steak should be and more: perfectly seared on the outside, blue on the inside, mouthwateringly flavorful, and served with a side of truffle butter.

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Perfectly cooked on the outside…

Kevin Rathbun Steak

…perfectly blue on the inside

The Caesar salad and truffle fries were also note-worthy parts of the meal.  The salad was crisp, peppery, and Parmesan-cheesy, served on an ice-cold plate with chilled forks (Rathbun’s is all about the details).  The French fries were hand-cut, drizzled with rosemary truffle oil, and dusted with shaved pecorino.  They were also served with a tangy aioli, but I opted to double up on truffles and dipped them in the leftover truffle butter.

Kevin Rathbun Steak

The more truffle oil, the better

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Crispy Casear

The dessert was the only part of the meal that was slightly disappointing.  Although it doesn’t look it, the chocolate truffle cake was quite dry and well, too cakey.  Next time around, I’ll skip dessert in favor of the chocolate sea salt tart next door at Krog Bar.

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Despite the dry cake, the icing was quite tasty

Murphy’s

We started 2014 off on a high note with a five-course dinner & wine pairing at Murphy’s.  In addition to an array of fabulous wines, we had the opportunity to try some off-the-menu dishes.

Murphy's

They even personalized the menu for Chad’s birthday…

The fuji apple & kumquat salad was a light and fresh preface to the meal, paired perfectly with an equally light and refreshing glass of champs.

Murphy's

Course One…just getting started

The chef immediately kicked things up a notch with the second course, featuring broiled wild shrimp.  The dish was bold, rich and decadent.  The garlic-buttery creaminess reminded me a little bit of shrimp & grits, without the grits, of course.

Murphy's

Course Two…I’m already starting to get full.

Course three was a pomegranate-marinated duck breast.  The pomegranate glaze brought a unique sweet and savory component to the dish with a nice, crispy skin on the outside.  The duck itself was overcooked for my liking, but I didn’t leave a spoonful of the accompanying wild rice and maitake mushrooms behind.

Murphy's

Course Three…more rare please!

The soy braised short-ribs were without a doubt the most delicious thing I tasted all night.  Although I’m generally not a fan of soy-flavored anything, the short ribs were super-tender, and paired nicely with the earthy root mash.

Murphy's

Oops, forgot to photograph the best course of the night…

After courses one through four, really the last thing I needed was anything else to eat.  So naturally, I proceeded to scrape up every last bite of the vanilla crème brulee with its accompanying chocolate-drizzled shortbread cookie.

Murphy's

Course Five…sufficiently stuffed!

To be honest, the entire meal was a highlight, and the service was phenomenal from start to finish.

Don Antonio by Starita

I was quite disappointed when I found out several months ago that STG Trattoria was closing.  Fortunately, the disappointment was short-lived because several weeks later, Don Antonio by Starita moved in.  The New York-based restaurant has quite the selection (more than 50, in fact) of Neapolitan-style pies.  The restaurant itself seems to be an upgraded version of STG, with much tastier pizzas, and a lot more to choose from.

We opted for one each of the pizze bianche and pizze rosse.  The pizzas were small enough to call “personal”, but big enough to warrant sharing.  Unsurprisingly, the prosciutto e arugula was my favorite of the two.  The white pizza was topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula, pecorino romano, basil, and of course, a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Like I said, "personal-sized"...for a very hungry person!

Like I said, “personal-sized”…for a very hungry person!

For a meatier option, the margherita with sausage and mushrooms was also quite tasty.  What really made the pizzas stand out, however, was the dough rather than the toppings.  The wood-fired crust had the perfect textural balance of delicate fluffiness baked inside a crispy shell.

Don Antonio

They certainly didn’t skimp on the toppings either…

Next on my list for Don Antonio: the pizze fritte aka “lightly fried pizza”, because you really can’t go wrong with fried pizza.

As you can see, food-wise, it hasn’t been a terrible winter (although I can’t exactly say the same about the weather).  Unlike my blog, the Atlanta restaurant scene has definitely NOT been hibernating all winter long…I think it’s safe to say my bucket list is overflowing and ready for Spring!


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Timone’s: Bringing Pizza Back to the Highlands

“Angry Chef” Ron Eyester apparently has a not-so-secret plan up his sleeve to take over the entire Morningside/Virginia Highlands area. He recently added a third restaurant – Timone’s – to his collection (Rosebud and The Family Dog being the first and second).

A recent Friday afternoon happy hour at The Family Dog eventually turned into wandering across the street for pizza. Much to our surprise, our party of six was seated immediately. On the interior, Timone’s certainly has that New York pizza joint vibe going on. The kitchen opens right into the restaurant and the eclectic wall-art features instructions for making chicken parm and the New York Last Supper.

Timone's Pizza Atlanta

The whole crew

Onto the pizza…

Among other things, the menu offers a selection of 9 pies. It also makes sure to point out that they’ve installed a special carbon filtration system on the house water that allows them to replicate the exact water that comes out of the taps in New York City. I wasn’t aware that the tap water in NYC was so special – apparently it is when it comes to making pizza dough.

The pies are all pretty intricate, so Timone’s probably isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a plain-jane slice of cheese or pepperoni. We decided on three pies to share amongst the group.

The white pizza with béchamel, house-made ricotta, romano, and mozzarella was the pizza I was expecting to love the most. I’m pretty confident that I could eat white pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day. I think it would have been my favorite had it been served without the béchamel. The creamy, white sauce was just enough to push this pizza over the edge of too rich for my liking. I still enjoyed the flavor of the white pizza, but one slice was more than enough.

Timone's Pizza

I’ve heard rumors that the Angry Chef doesn’t allow menu alterations, so I wouldn’t dare request this pie sans bechamel

The pizza that did turn out to be my favorite, was the heirloom & cherry tomato pizza, served with arugula pesto, mozzarella, and goat cheese. After one bite, I was sold. The savory tartness of the goat cheese, combined with the earthiness of the pesto, and the sweetness of the tomatoes was absolutely perfect. I would return to Timone’s and order this pie again, no question.

Timone's Pizza

The more goat cheese, the merrier

Timone's Pizza

Perfectly crispy crust

The Riverview Farms meatball pie was another solid choice. The pie was topped with a red sauce, pickled banana peppers, basil, chile oil, and of course, meatballs. The red sauce-meatball combination felt in a way like I was eating spaghetti and meatballs, in pizza form. The banana peppers and chile oil provided just enough kick to keep things interesting. If you’re looking for a heartier, meatier pizza than some of the other menu selections, go with the meatball. You won’t be disappointed.

Timone's Pizza Atlanta

I’ve never actually thought to put meatballs on a pizza before. I’m glad someone did.

Timone's pizza

Gotta make sure you get a slice with a meatball

Now about that pizza dough. It was pretty fantastic (as it should be if you’re going to spend an entire paragraph describing it on the menu). You can’t really have a good pizza without a solid foundation, and Timone’s dough was spot-on. The thickness of the crust was just right – not too thick, not too thin. It was crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside. Maybe there really is something special about that New York tap water after all.

We weren’t hungry enough to try anything other than the pizza, but the drinks and service were nothing to complain about.

Timone's beer list

Loved their beer glasses

Timone's wine list

Didn’t really love their lack of wine glasses

If there’s anything the Virginia Highlands was lacking up until a few weeks ago, it was a quality pizza place. The pizzas at Timone’s were nicely sized for sharing, reasonably priced ($15-17), and most importantly, quite tasty. It appears as though the pizza void has been filled…perhaps this will make the Angry Chef just a tad less angry? I won’t hold my breath.