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I can’t think of a restaurant in Atlanta’s recent history that has caused as much commotion as Antico, a spot originally opened only for take-out, but that has blossomed into a neighborhood place for people who live far beyond the neighborhood.
When Giovanni di Palma first opened Antico Pizza Napoletana five week ago, his intention was to prepare Neapolitan-style pizzas for a mostly carryout market. He would half cook the pies, encase them in plastic sleeves and send them off to retail outlets with instructions on how to finish baking them.
This is certainly not your typical Atlanta pizza joint, nor is it your typical Atlanta pizza.
First off - the place is loud and boisterous. The stereo is blasting opera. The kitchen staff is energized and entertaining to watch - easy enough since the kitchen is only separated from the dining space by a counter.
I'm not sure how early you have to get there to secure a spot with a chair, so plan on staking out a place at a counter to stand and eat from the big tray your pizza or calzone comes on.
Now the food. Tomatoes so fresh, they taste like they were picked from the vine this morning; big, gooey, fresh buffalo mozzarella; a sauce that holds it's own but doesn't own the pizza; chewy crust with char from the wood fired oven.
My dinner companion spent a month in Italy recently and compared our pizza to the best she had "in country". It is quite different from "American" pizza. Don't bother trying to compare it to Fellini's or Mellow Mushroom; I like 'em both, but this is a different animal.
I do wish that a) we'd brought a bottle of wine, and b) we'd have saved room for one of the cannolli's for dessert. Perhaps next time!
Fantastic. It's not a concept restaurant. The experience is worth a trip.
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