When under attack by a pizza craving, seek relief at these restaurants where reliably tasty pies are served.
By Hope S. Philbrick
At this very tiny, ultra-casual hotspot, orders are placed at the counter—warning: expect to be tempted by a luscious display of desserts!—and then you’ll hang out until your order is ready. Seating options are limited and cramped: pick a bar stool by a window ledge, a seat at the one family-style dining table or pull a chair up to a stainless steel prep table in the kitchen. This isn’t a place to go if you want to have an intimate conversation. It is the place to go if you want to pick up some pizza to take home or consume it fresh out of the oven with friends and friendly strangers.
This thick, chewy crust holds up well to multiple toppings.
My addiction: The San Gennaro pizza that’s topped with sausage, sweet peppers, bufala mozzarella and onions. The combination of sweet and spicy flavors is a scrumptious treat.
Delicious pizza, fairly priced makes this a locals’ favorite in Midtown Atlanta.
Crusts are thin and nicely charred, with a crispy crunch on the outside yet a toothsome bite in the center. The tomato sauce is lip-smacking good with just the right level of spice. Topping combo options abound.
A personal favorite: The Americana Pizza is topped with veal meatballs, marinara sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano.
Executive chef and partner Linda Harrell brings more than 20 years of experience creating Italian cuisine, with a resume that includes stints at Antica Posta and Mangia 101. She makes everything from scratch using local products whenever possible and imports specialty items from Italy to ensure authentic flavors.
Don’t miss the margherita topped with tomato, fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil.
Step into this place and you may feel like you’ve entered a flashy high-tech set where a scene for CSI Miami is being filmed. Things are different here, and not just the fact that they prefer lowercase and pronounce their name as if it were spelled “dough.”
Though the menu focus is definitely pizza–all of the entrees are personal-size pizzas and most of the appetizers are flatbreads–the real inspiration is do-re-me. Menu items have music-industry names, such as Maestro, Melody, Soloist, Duet, Ensemble, Composition, and so on.
The walls of the restaurant showcase music videos. Any diner with an iPhone can download a free app and then select music videos to add to the playlist. It’s like the newfangled version of a juke box. Or maybe like sitting inside the juke box.
Once you’re seated, a “table assistant guide” (apparently, the terms waiter and server are now both passé) introduces you to the menu. Pay attention, because this is no mere introduction to the fact that foods are grouped into categories. An iPad is propped upon the table and instructions are given about how to review the available food and drink options and then how to enter an order yourself. And, when it comes time to leave, how to notify the valet with a push of a button.
The pizza menu here features creative and classic combinations plus a build-your-own option. The crust is thick around the perimeter, thin in the center, and has a nice crunchy/chewy balance. It’s good–I especially liked Collaboration, which is topped with sausage and sweet peppers. But the food can’t compete with the flashiness of the setting.
The cuisine of the Campania region of Italy is featured here, alongside traditional Neapolitan pizzas which are cooked in two custom brick ovens that were imported direct from Naples to ensure authenticity.
These pizzas are made according to the laws stipulated by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which regulates the production of Neapolitan pizza.
Double Zero Napoletana pizza is topped with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, fresh arugula, Prosciutto di Parma, Pecorino Gran Cru, basil oil. One bite of the crust is all that’s needed to justify the cost of those custom brick ovens.
Fritti is the sister restaurant to neighboring Sotto Sotto and it’s where to find authentic Neopolitan Pizza that’s certified by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana.
Chef Ricardo Ullio’s artisanal pizzas feature dough made with Molino Caputo Tipo 00 Pizza Flour, natural yeast and sea salt with results that are crisp and addictive. Pies are baked in a 700 degree Fahrenheit wood-burning oven and can be topped with San Marzano tomatoes and bufala mozzarella, a simple drizzle of top-notch olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or another heavenly combo. Frutti di Mare features shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels and oregano while Speck e Rucola is topped with smoked prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and arugula.
The restaurant is housed in a former garage. Tables are close together and give the space a European vibe—and also would make it a very tacky place to break up with someone.
If it weren’t proudly proclaimed in the name, you might never know this restaurant houses Georgia’s only coal oven. There’s fire—the oven reaches a whopping 1,000°F. But no smoke—thanks to anthracite coal, which burns clean and is in abundant supply.
The hot oven is key to replicate authentic New York-style pizza with crust that’s crisp on the outside yet tender on the inside. The chewy crust is a scrumptious foundation for savory red sauce, mozzarella and classic meat and vegetable pizza toppings.
Whatever topping combo you choose, the crust comes crisp and blackened on the outside, warm and chewy on the inside.
My favorite pizza here is pepperoni. I find that loaded pizzas overwhelm this thin crust. I also think a great crust doesn’t need to be hidden by tons of stuff. Simple is fine by me.
At this casual neighborhood eatery pizza is the big draw. Get a slice or a whole 14- or 16-inch pie. The crust is thick enough to support several toppings yet thin enough not to overwhelm them. The sauce is spiced just right and the mix of available ingredients is, if not creative, at least complete. Mo’s Pizza even offers authentic Canadian bacon—something exotic here in the land of HoneyBaked Ham. If you don’t want your pizza smothered in cheese, ask for a lighter touch when ordering.
This place has a youthful energy and a chic-casual vibe. The hip contemporary décor combines Italian, Brazilian and South African elements. Atlanta enters the mix via the local art on display; artwork routinely changes with new installations arriving monthly. Pizzas are priced from $13 to $17 with a variety of topping options including pepperoni, margarita, vegetarian and ham. The crust is thin and crispy.
Airy-crusted pizzas topped with combinations like lamb sausage, sweet onion, ricotta salatta and mint not only taste great, they’ve earned a stamp of approval from the Italian pizza police—the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, which certifies pizzas that are authentically Neapolitan. Start by ordering a cocktail off the iPod menu and munch on seasonal bruschetta while pondering pizza toppings.
This restaurant grew out of online demand: Founder Jeff Varasano first blogged about his pizza crust recipe experiments; his posts attracted hoards of fans who pestered him to open a restaurant.
“Nana’s” is one of the three margarita pizza options, all of which are best sellers. If you want meat, go for the salumi pizza.
Vingenzo’s is owned and operated by two professors at the Culinary Institute at Chattahoochee Technical College; one runs the kitchen and the other works the dining room (or “front of the house” as restaurateurs say). Both are super nice guys who, of course, know a whole lot about food and hospitality.
According to the owners, huge numbers of San Marzano tomatoes are massacred each day in the kitchen. Trust me, we should not mourn. Sopressata pizza is topped with fennel salami, spicy tomato sauce made of Italian San Marzano tomatoes, fresh house-made bufala mozzarella, Taggiasche black olives and Parmigiano Reggiano. The hand-stretched dough is thin and perfect.
This top-notch fare is well worth the drive to Woodstock.