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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Pricci

Chef Piero Premoli and staff at Pricci

Chef Piero Premoli and staff

One of the most interesting things I’ve learned over this 30-day dine-a-thon is that restaurants throughout Atlanta are really thinking hard about the new economic reality and adjusting their menus to find that sweet spot where the prices feel like a bargain and the meal tastes like an indulgence.

At Pricci, the longstanding Italian restaurant in Buckhead, chef Piero Premoli has devised a fascinating concept. Each month, the Milan native focuses on a different region of Italy and explores that cuisine through a fixed-price ($29) three-course menu.There are several choices of appetizer and entree as well as two desserts.

On the night we visited, the special menu features dishes from Friuli Venezia Giulia — the corner of Italy bordered by Slovenia, Austria and the Adriatic Sea. I have good friends from Friuli and have visited them at their home in Udine. I remember going out to a restaurant and being impressed with the slight Germanic sweet-and-sour tilt to some of the dishes.

Well known foods from the region include frico crisps made from griddle-seared montasio cheese; San Daniele prosciutto (which my friends insist is superior to Parma proscuitto); and the quenching and ubiquitous white wine of the region, Tocai Friulano.

I wish a few of these unadorned items had been front and center, as they would have given guests a nice introduction to the region.

But we enjoyed our meal.

pricci1My friend got this salad made with Gala apples, smoked trout and mixed lettuces in a green apple vinaigrette.

I ordered an unphotographable (at least by me) plate of wood-grilled calf liver émincé (thin strips) and caramelized onion threads served with grilled country bread. It was an old friend of a dish. ( Note to other Atlanta’s chefs: Bring back calf liver.)

pricci2My friend ate this fillet of pan-roasted branzino served atop lots of little tomatoes, zucchini bits and potatoes in a creamy, herbal wine sauce. We both found it a little too rich and saucy.

Ditto my tortei — a set of delicious ravioli stuffed with a forcemeat of braised osso buco and San Daniele prosciutto in a heavy-duty blanket of leek and pea cream sauce.

pricci4We both went bananas for pastry chef Jennifer Etchison’s desserts. This coppa al Gianduja will put the lie to anyone who says they don’t like chocolate. Consider: homemade gianduja (chocolate/hazelnut) ice cream topped with cinnamon-whipped marscapone cheese, chocolate sauce and candied chestnuts. Bellissimo!

pricci3And this Strudel Udinese combined apples, walnuts, dried fruits and chocolate bits in crisp sheets of dough with a honey cream. Delicate and lovely. It also reminded me very much of a dessert I ate in Udine.

Pricci is a funny spot. It greets you at the door with a mixture of smells from the open kitchen, an Art Deco design that speaks of faded glamour, a loud soundtrack and a clientele that seems to comprise Buckhead families, displaced Northeasterners and big parties dining on expense accounts. The savvy staff in white steward’s jackets  seems to understand everyone.

I’ll keep an eye out for Premoli’s monthly specials.

12 comments Add your comment

Thomas SENOR

November 27th, 2009
7:43 am

First!!!
btw, eat at Pappis!

LAL

November 27th, 2009
2:39 pm

@ Thomas SENOR. This is probably NOT the way to win friends and influence people. Enthusiasm can be a good thing, but it can also be obnoxious as well.

Rachael

November 27th, 2009
5:45 pm

THIRD! (Does that make me obnoxious as well?)

LAL

November 27th, 2009
6:55 pm

Rachael: not at all, you are not spamming the comment section of all of Mr. Kessler’s posts telling people to go and eat at Pappi’s. THAT’S obnoxious.

Pappi's Rocks, LAL does not

November 29th, 2009
11:31 am

LAL get a life. Don’t know Pappis but let’s all go! Fifth!

Margaret Miner

November 29th, 2009
1:01 pm

I was very happy to see that Pricci was included in the restaurants returned to. I worked there for 15 years and it seemed no matter how hard we tried we were always overlooked. I always chalked it up to the politics of the restauant business in Atlanta. When Chef Piero entered he reorganized everything and in my own opinion brought more authenticity to Pricci. He is very passionate about his work. He also did a wonderful job with the wait staff, explaining techniques, food etc. I have learned much from him. Thank-you.

YEA

November 29th, 2009
11:33 pm

Pappi’s is mediocre, especially after eating at Cali n Tito’s in Athens.

I’ll have to check out Pricci.

Westside Resident

November 30th, 2009
10:47 am

Another great “value” at Pricci is the pizza selection. We will often dine at the bar and enjoy a cocktail while we split the tuna carpacio (sp?) appetizer and a pizza between two of us. A fantastic meal at a nice price and a great pre-movie or concert dinner since you can usually be in and out in under an hour if need be with this option. Prior to discovering this, I’d often overlooked Pricci, but now enjoy it with some regularity.

Bob from Accounttemps

December 1st, 2009
9:08 am

I last ate at Pricci some years ago, when they were still an Atlanta “hot spot”. We had a reservation, yet they made us wait for close to an hour to be seated. They were not only unapologetic, but somewhat miffed that I’d complain. There are too many other great spots to eat in Atlanta and I’ve kept my promise over the years to not return.

Jennifer Brett

December 1st, 2009
12:44 pm

That last dessert looks like a manatee.

Claudia

December 2nd, 2009
1:36 pm

sounds delicious. and by the way, if you’re gonna spam …spell it right, it’s Papi’s (as in Dad’s).

[...] fascinating work at Pricci. I first became aware of her desserts when I first tried them during my 30 Restaurants in 30 Days post on Pricci. She takes an academic approach while researching chef Piero Premoli’s monthly regional [...]