Feb 25, 2013

Tactical (Restaurant) Review: Antico - Pizza Napoletana

Antico, the famed Pizzeria Napoletana found in Midtown Atlanta, has proven to have the best classic Naples style pizza in the state of Georgia by many a critic. Its theme is simple; let the food do the talking.

With all ingredients shipped in from Napoli and Campania, Italy, (including the 10,000 lbs. ovens) the focus is obvious; they are all about authenticity. Don’t get me wrong; I love the minimalist Italian themed package. The simply Italian inspired color palette with manicured trees emphasizes the retro art d├ęcor on the brick sided building. This all leads one in line to peruse the small menu to place an order. 

Cozy, inviting though sparsely adorned, the first impression one conjures upon entering is that this place means business, Italian style. The simple menu highlights the perfection that is pizza with an emphasis on the bones of a great pie, tomatoes, cheese, garlic, etc. Here, simple is more.

Cannoli anyone?
The open dining hall with communal style tables and benches topped with brown paper towels may be off putting to some, but for the pizza aficionado (or general foodie), the atmosphere will only hit you after you start eating.  Then one takes notice of the football (soccer) match playing on the big screen, a separate room for making dough, the boxed cases of San Marzano tomatoes and that there are people eating RIGHT next to you…

And one will not have to wait long. The wood-feed, 900°F brick ovens bake a pie in less then a minute and a half (and yes, I timed them).  Simply served on a hotel-size baking sheet, the still steaming thin crust pizza is placed on the table only moments after seating. Simple sides are offered self-service near the open prep table where the pizza artisans use it to shape, spin and top their yeasty creations.

One of the three Grande Forni (ovens)

For the pizza itself, it is simply divine. Probably the best tasting dough ever to support tomato sauce, its hand kneaded on site in a special room dedicated to its birth. Small patches ensure quality and provide the famous chew that brings people clamoring back for more. Top this dough with Mozzarella di Bufala, sweet red peppers, or heck, just the hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes and it'd still be a winner.

The Capricciosa: Mushrooms, Artichokes, Prosciutto Cotto 
Granted, I've never dined here at night, though I foolishly attempted it a while back but the double-parked  lots (there are two painfully small lots) and stories of not being able to hear yourself think on a sardine packed Friday/Saturday night prevented me from that experience. My suggestion is to dine at lunch or for a early dinner before hitting the town. They do not take reservations unless you have a large party, and good luck with securing that...

The "Private" dining table
This last story should sum up the Antico experience. As my wife

 and I were dining, the three gentlemen sharing the table next to us were taking stock of all the ingredients, peppering the staff with questions and sizing up the atmosphere. They informed us that they were restaurateurs from the North Carolina area where they owned a few pizza joints but were looking to get into the Pizza Napoletana scene (AKA- artisan pizza). They flew down to Atlanta just to taste Antico’s pizza. They spoke of using imported ingredients, volcanic rock and authentic bricks, purified water and chewy dough. By the time they had left, the look of incredulity on their faces was priceless. The bar had been set.

Review Date: Feb 2013 

4 Alarms.

Antico Pizza on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Accurate review. Antico offers the food of the gods. I agree with your assessment that the only time to go is either for an early lunch or early dinner. Otherwise being packed in the place like a can of sardines detracts from the tastiness of the manna.


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