By Hope S. Philbrick
Native Atlantan Jamie Adams was studying music, biology, and English literature at Georgia State University while working at The Mad Italian Restaurant. He soon realized his appetite for the restaurant business and passion for Italian cuisine.
Inspired by stories he heard about great meals in quaint Italian towns, he headed off on an Italian adventure. “In 1985, I found myself in the Mestre train station with a 200 Lire Gettone in my hand, hoping against hope that someone on the other end could speak English,” he remembers. “Thus began an almost five year stint that was supposed to only be one. I went on to find and work in many of the places that I had heard so many stories about and I made friendships and connections that forever changed the course of my life.”
Upon returning to Atlanta, he began working at Pricci (then Cappriccio), part of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. In 1993, the company took over Veni Vidi Vici and Chef Jamie Adams was named Executive Chef.
While at Veni Vidi Vici, Adams and General Manager Leonardo Moura discovered their mutual desire to create and run their own Italian restaurant. Adams and Moura shared their dream with Pano Karatassos, and it was decided that Veni Vidi Vici would close, enabling the pair to open their own restaurant. Il Giallo Osteria & Bar is now open in Sandy Springs.
Chef Jamie Adams has been a featured chef at The James Beard House in New York, competed in The Food Network’s “Chopped,” selected to participate in a TBS-TV “Super Chef Cook Off”, and was highlighted on “Great Chefs of the South, and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
We recently talked to him about his new restaurant.
Why start your own restaurant, aren’t you just asking for more headaches?
To start your own restaurant there’s definitely more headaches, but the rewards are far greater than the headaches. There’s the reward of knowing that we accomplished something that is ours, and while the financial rewards are also greater, there’s satisfaction in creating something and getting it off its feet.
What drove your menu design?
Our menu really represents what I did and saw when I lived in Italy. The food I made there, the pastas, I wanted to recreate that here for our clientele.
Any menu items carried over from Veni Vidi Vici?
There are several. The veal parmigiana was a classic favorite, but it’s not necessarily nor strictly a Veni Vidi Vici dish, it’s a well-known Italian dish. I put my own twist on it.
How much of the menu is traditional Italian versus your innovations?
I always come from the point of view that I like to recreate traditional Italian, do an authentic representation of the dish and region, but in a way that is a little more modern for our dining public. Something hard-core traditional may not appeal to our public, like fried pigs feet. I try to represent tradition but in a way that appeals to modern American appetites.
Do you have a personal favorite dish to cook?
I get asked that question all the time. I can’t say that I do. I think I try to put all of myself into all the dishes on the menu and represent a good variety across several different canvases. I don’t have favorite children.
Any early favorites with customers?
Our grilled octopus is absolutely really incredibly popular. We’re also getting great recognition for our veal parmigiana—people are going crazy over it.
How often will you change the menu?
We made a change yesterday. We’ll change things as they need to be changed—for the season and also if something on the menu doesn’t appeal to diners we’ll change it. I want to keep the menu evolving at all times, putting out things that people want while also respecting where we want to come from. The goal is to keep people interested.
Il Giallo Osteria & Bar
5920 Roswell Road, Suite B-118
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
My review of il Giallo Osteria & Bar was also published in Perimeter North Lifestyle magazine.
– Photo Credits: chef by Erik Meadows Photography; food images © HSP Media LLC
Thanks to il Giallo for hosting our recent visit; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.