Friday, October 30, 2009

Highlight #251: Pizza party in the kitchen - Restaurant: Antico Pizza Napoletana

First of all, let me just say that pizza preference is a personal thing. No one has the right to tell you what style is better than another. You have to decide for yourself. If you want to know, you have to try and decide if you like Antico.

With that said, there are some factors that contribute to a good pie, no matter how you like it. For one, a super hot wood burning oven helps with both flavor and char. Something magical tends to happen when your pie bakes in an oven that is super heated to just short of 1000 degrees.

I have no idea how Antico beat the system to receive a permit for not one but three of these babies when other equally ambitious pizza joints cannot even manage to get one, but I am so glad that it got them. When you see the setup of this place, there can be no question that these pizzaiolos here love these ovens (the kitchen is about three times the size of the take-out and serving areas combined).

With a little advance planning, our group of 7 got to sit at the sole table in the kitchen rather than squeezing at the large communal table near the take-out counter. Beyond having more room to move around in, we also had the perfect view of the pizzaiolo in action. To further enhance our enjoyment, we brought along some of our own vino to wash down the fresh pizza.

Orders were taken directly by the pizzaiolo at the oven and were ready in under five minutes (three minutes to put together and two to bake). Chloe of Chow Down Atlanta, who had previously spent three hours here taking photos and documenting the making of the pies, recommended the San Gennaro (above) and the diavaolo (below).
After one round, all of us agreed that the ingredients here are at a superior level rarely seen elsewhere in the city. The Neapolitan style (somewhat doughier and chewier than the popular crispier types around town), however, was not everyone's favorite cup of tea. Although we all enjoyed the hot wood oven flavor and gorgeous char. I personally loved the chew and char combination. But if you are a slow eater like me, I'd recommend the diavaolo over the San Gennaro due to the San Gennaro's tendency to collect condensation of moisture released from the juicy tomatoes in the topping. Regardless of what you get though, these are quality pies.

If you are an artichoke lover, the capricciosa shows off a tasty version, fragrant and not at all slimy or mealy.

I did not expect so many choices for dessert having only heard about the cannoli. But there they were, beaming at us from the bright display fridge right near the door. We selected a nice collection, including the cannoli that has gotten a lot of press, a raspberry tart, a cup thingie with a name too difficult for me to remember, and a few other. (Disclaimer: Live to Nibble is no professional blog and I do not diligently take down names of dishes nor make any definitive comments as to their deliciousness.) We all loved the cup thing the most, but all were wonderful in a homey and rustic way (words of Gene, the man behind Eat, Drink, Man).

As mentioned above, you may or may not love the style served at Antico, but I do think you should give it a try if only to experience something made with passion by folks who grew up loving and eating it.

1093 Hemphill Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30318


jimmy said...

Looks like a large blogger party! I spy Gene, June, Broderick, and you and Chloe were there too! I'm sure it was a well documented meal. :-)

Cathy said...

I was actually the only one with a real camera (other than iphone). Antico is already old news to them :) I am slow. said...

funny thing - I'm pretty sure Ed Levine and Kessler were there on the same day as well ... though i may be off by a bit. Nice par-tee

Cathy said...

Nope, didn't run into them. We would have invited them to join. :)