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.
And, oh yeah, he’d do a small carryout business. His odd location on the West Side by Georgia Tech could probably attract a few students with munchies.
“The first night these three girls ordered a pizza and had a picnic in the parking lot!” says the incredulous pizzaiolo. Soon, the ever enterprising tastemaker Blissful Glutton published a rave on her blog.
Within days di Palma had cleared off his dough prep table for diners. Then he brought in chairs. He set up a communal table in the kitchen, right by his three imported wood-fired pizza ovens. Then he built additional counter space.
The lines kept coming as word got out about the pizza. So di Palma ordered four more communal tables, yet to arrive. Now he’s looking at the building up the street as a production facility as he transforms this space into a full-service pizzeria. He has five more pizza ovens on back order and a liquor license in the works.
So, what is the big deal with this pizza?
For starters, it has primo ingredients you can taste — San Marzano tomatoes, Italian fior di latte and bufula mozzarella, wild oregano and snow-white, finely milled “Tipo 00″ flour from di Palma’s grandfather’s home town in Italy. The pizzas emerge from the ovens puffed and blistered and spotted with black char that flits across your tongue with the bittersweet taste of fire.
The breakout star pie has been the “San Gennaro” made with fat, fennel-y nuggets of sausage and the most amazing sweet and tangy pickled peppers. The pizzas cost about $20 and seem to feed about 2 1/2 people per.
The best table is the one in the kitchen, which you can reserve with a $50 deposit on your credit card. B.Y.O. From there you have a fantastic view of the pizzas emerging, steaming, from the ovens on the ends of 6-foot-long peels.
I’m not going to get into any more detail now because I’ve got a full profile of this restaurant in the works for the week after next, and dining critic Meridith Ford Goldman will offer up a formal review.
I just wanted to let you all know about this place in case it hasn’t come on your radar yet. I can’t wait to see what it will develop into.
Have you been? Did you like the crust, which is chewy, stretchy and typically Neapolitan?