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Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Dazzling Finesse — Gerry Klaskala, Aria

Gerry Klaskala (AJC Staff)

Gerry Klaskala (AJC Staff)

Here’s what I had to say in the original letter:

Dazzle us with your finesse: People go out to restaurants to eat the kinds of dishes they can’t make at home. We want to marvel at how you cut that amazingly tender braised short rib into such a perfect square or how you coaxed that infinitely velvety texture from a parsnip.

Here’s why I think Klaskala exemplifies this quality:

What a pleasure to revisit Aria after many years and find this Buckhead stalwart hasn’t, after a decade, turned into one of those maturing restaurants with an aging clientele and ossified menu. Sure, the greying folks at the next table all order the signature lobster cocktails with potato and broccoli purees and quietly wash them down with clinking cocktails. But then another party celebrating a 30th birthday has a grand time passing plates around the table and exclaiming over the food. Aria attracts such a diverse clientele for Gerry Klaskala’s menu, which he updates seasonally, and for his style of cooking, which has that all-too-rare quality of finesse. His soups are so startlingly creamy without seeming over-rich; his salad greens glisten with dressing but don’t ever succumb to it; his braised meats cut like butter’s more buttery cousin. On my last visit I was enchanted by his version of veal schnitzel, so moist and full of flavor, yet thin, crisp and ideally paired with a salad of pregnant-with-juice heirloom tomatoes. And you know what? That lobster cocktail is still a thrill.

dgklaskaladish

Lobster cocktail (credit: Becky Stein)

3 comments Add your comment

Theresa

September 23rd, 2011
7:06 am

After all these years, I still love Aria. It’s one of the places where I have a hard time deciding what to order, since there are so many delicious things on the menu. It’s definitely a place to go with friends who are willing to share.

Atlanta Native

September 23rd, 2011
3:58 pm

I had the lobster cocktail a couple of years ago there. Damn you Kessler, now I’ve got to go back!

Intown Proud

September 23rd, 2011
4:47 pm

I have had the pleasure of working with Gerry and understand what a true genius he is with food. Each cut of meat is like a pampered child and he is happiest when he sees a dining room filled with blissful eaters. He knows how to build the menu, the team and the atmosphere. Many more chefs could learn a thing or two from him if they took the time to study him. His restaurant is not old because Gerry is always reinventing his menu and challenging himself to do better.