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Ammazza restaurant review, Old Fourth Ward

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$-$$

Sometimes, you just want a nice glass of rye and a Glitter Pizza.

Until a few months ago, those two things would never be found together. But no longer, now that brothers Jason and Hugh Connerty have opened Ammazza in the Old Fourth Ward — the newest hot Neapolitan pizza shop in town.

Ammazza brought with it a considerable amount of buzz, due in no small part to the fact that the Connertys at one point worked for the company that purchased the out of state franchise rights for Antico. As if a pizza place can open in this town without drawing comparisons to Antico, their brief affiliation with the Neapolitan heavyweight made things even worse.

But the similarities end with the fact that they both serve pizza. And I love that about Ammazza.

If nothing else, the Connerty brothers have created a genuinely hip vibe that their competitors lack. Diners order at

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

the front counter and take a number back to the seating area. I was surprised when I first rounded the corner to find a space filled with exposed brick, reclaimed wood ceilings, communal tables and swanky copper-sheet lighting features. A pair of Forno Bravo ovens encased in glass sit at the head of the room, opposite the full bar, and a DJ booth is at the far end.

The cocktail program at that bar deserves a mention, as I’ve yet to find another place where I can enjoy a glass of Blanton’s bourbon and a pizza at the same time.

Ammazza lacks the “look at how authentic we are” decor — pizza peels as art, stacked cans of tomatoes or il Tricolore tacked to every patch of open wall space — that has become the clichéd standard. In a similar vein, Ammazza makes a Neapolitan-style pie, but don’t expect to find any Verace Pizza Napoletana certifications hanging on the wall. Instead, the Connertys wanted the freedom to make their own mozzarella in house, incorporate local and seasonal ingredients, and tinker with the topping ratios to make a better pie.

The Connertys’ decision to source the majority of their meats from the Spotted Trotter seems to be the best deviation from VPN standards, most obviously in the Carne ($22). Like all of the pizzas, this comes on a 16-inch, thick-rimmed crust, but piled with pepperoni, Italian sausage and sorghum cured bacon. Or start things off with a round of the Classico Antipasto ($10), a simple spread of meats and house-made cheeses guaranteed to quickly disappear. Fortunately, we enjoyed this enough to ignore the fact that the server plopped the plate on the table with no explanation of what we were about to enjoy.

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

Whether on a slice of Bolognese pie ($22) or in an order of polpette ($7), don’t skip out on the house-made meatballs. And don’t be ashamed if you skip the pizza entirely and order a few cast-iron skillets of the steaming marinara and cheese draped balls of Brasstown beef and pork for your meal. Lord knows I was tempted.

The deviation from officially sanctioned Neapolitan standards pays off in other ways as well, like the sweet Vidalia onions and roasted peppers on the Ammazzare ($22). And it may be gimmicky, but the kids will get a kick out of the Glitter Pizza ($6), a small cheese pizza topped with bluish edible sprinkles.

In a nod to the street food the brothers sampled during a tour of Naples, they offer the Carnosa Pizza Fritta ($16), a deep-fried flavor bomb of dough stuffed with mozzarella, fior di latte, ricotta, basil, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs. A heavy hand of marinara sauce on top may turn the golden fried crust to mush, so don’t let it linger there too long. A quick brush of a fork pushing the sauce aside fixes that.

It is some of the basics that seem to be the biggest stumbling blocks here. I love

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

the flavor in the rich, chunky red sauce on the pies, but there is a serious water separation problem that should be addressed. Authentic Neapolitan pies should be a little soggy in the center, but I never had a slice that could be picked up with one hand. Some slices require a swift crumple-and-stuff maneuver to get the whole thing into your mouth before all toppings hit the table. And I shouldn’t have to hunt for basil on a Margherita

($19) — with my eyes or my taste buds — but I had to search with both.

The Connerty brothers are doing a lot of things right at Ammazza, and the pros certainly outweigh the cons. With a few more tweaks, this could be one of the top destination pizza spots in town.

AMMAZZA
591-A Edgewood Ave., Atlanta, 404-228-1036
2stars5
Food: Neapolitan pizza
Service: Nice, but plan to be self-sufficient
Best dishes: Carne, Pizza Fritta, polpette
Vegetarian selections: a couple of salads and veggie pizzas
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight, Sundays-Thursdays, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Children: Kid-friendly early, before the DJ starts spinning at 10 p.m.
Parking: ample, especially for the neighborhood
Reservations: only for large groups
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: can get loud, especially when the DJ has started
Patio: no
Takeout: yes

24 comments Add your comment

[...] Ammazza restaurant review, Old Fourth Ward [...]

stephieZ

December 13th, 2012
9:20 am

I’ve only been once, but the margherita pizza I ordered had about 3 tiny shriveled pieces. It made me sad; I love basil.

Paul

December 13th, 2012
10:19 am

WOW!!!! $19 for a cheese pizza – $22 for a pepperoni pizza. Maybe it is good but for that price I will never know. Sorry to be another “yankee moved south” but I grew up in New York and go back often to see family. Pizza place don’t need to be this fancy – a Great New York pizza runs half this price. For $22 I can eat a decent meal at a sit down, table service restaurant right here in Atlanta – why would I spend that kind of money to order at a counter, take a number, then find a table after the fact.

Sheriff John Brown

December 13th, 2012
10:58 am

$22 for a pie is crazy…

donkey200

December 13th, 2012
11:33 am

Not in this lifetime. I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.

victor

December 13th, 2012
12:14 pm

a real Margherita pie (if you’re going to call it that) should NOT be covered in basil, only a few fresh leaves in the middle after it comes out of the oven. people still don’t know what they are eating in this town and then embarrass themselves online by butchering the dish. but since this is not a real napoletana pizzeria, it’s ok to call it a margherita and then put a pound of basil and bacon on it. it’s the Atlanta way.

Jon Watson

December 13th, 2012
12:28 pm

@John Brown and Paul- I should say, while the pricing may seem high, the pies here are pretty substantial. Each pizza can easily feed 3 hungry adult males. That pricing is in line with other shops that serve the same size/style pizza.

SP

December 13th, 2012
3:24 pm

I finally made it over there Monday night. Maybe I was looking forward to it too much and my expectations were too high but I was seriously disappointed in the pizza there. There wasn’t a charred crust, in fact I felt the crust tasted exactly like Johnny’s Pizza and was a bit tough to chew. Not worth the $21 we spent on it. However, they did have really fun options of topping combinations and I really loved the atmosphere and the staff were super nice. But I will continue my drive to West Midtown to get the good Neopolitan pizza.

Paul J

December 13th, 2012
3:34 pm

$22 is worth it for a tasteful and yummy Bolognese. That’s what the essence of being wise. Base on those comments up there I am now intrigue to try their foods.

wangchung

December 13th, 2012
4:12 pm

sure you can get a new york pizza with government cheese and canned tomatoes any day. But when it comes to top shelf ingredients supplied by local meat artisans, $22 is well worth it. Keep in mind, the pizza’s are large enough to share with 2 people unless you are gluttonous slob like Chris Christie.

Jeff

December 13th, 2012
4:12 pm

Fritti kills this place and is way cheaper, although their pies are a bit smaller.

La Fede

December 13th, 2012
5:39 pm

hipster pie.

Wake Up Atlanta

December 14th, 2012
10:36 pm

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Its time to Grow Up and out of Papa Johns Atlanta! GEEEZZZZUS Good food, should not be cheap, it takes a lot to do what they do, wake the eff up!

Edward

December 15th, 2012
12:38 pm

I doubt most people who pay $22 for a pie can tell the difference between that one and one from Mellow Mushroom. If you told them the MM pie cost $22, it would be the “best thing ever!”.

juice sourcer

December 16th, 2012
9:35 am

An how was the wine list.

John

December 18th, 2012
9:37 am

I really wish the “WHAT, HOW MUCH, I’LL PASS THANK YOU” crowd would consider……that is what even half way good pizza costs. I am not going to waste any time with the local cured meat, and other non canned ingredient superlatives because it would be a waste. Check you bill at Mellow Mushroom next time, it is about equal and a far cry from some of these newer establishments. If a $5 large hot and ready Little Caesars pizza floats your boat then by all means get four but some of us would rather eat a better pie. And yes, pizza has been elevated to a higher degree for which I am grateful.

Chris

December 18th, 2012
11:31 am

After reading this review, I know more about what you don’t like about Antico than what you do like about Ammazza. It’s a shame, b/c it’s a safe bet that the latter wouldn’t exist were it not for the former (and we’re all better for both being around).

Sorry that you need a DJ booth and rye to generate a vibe for you instead of just good conversation with the people around you (chalk one up for BYOB at Antico, as well). It sounds like you’ve been waiting for Antico in skinny jeans, and maybe you got it.

As for stacked cans of tomatoes: you do realize they go on the pizza, right? It’s a shame you can’t appreciate the- gasp- authentic, Italian trait of arranging everyday things in a visually appealing way (notice how attractive those cans are to begin with?), especially in an open restaurant with limited storage. Another note on authenticity: ahem, you’re not supposed to be eating pizza napoletana with your hands.

Also.. Wine? Beer?

Edward

December 18th, 2012
12:35 pm

Sorry “John”, but you’re a bit too flippant to be taken seriously. I doubt anyone would mistake something from Little Caesars for a good quality pizza. I do enjoy a good pizza from Antico, but I get equally good pizza from MM or Grant Central. When it is appropriate, the “local cured meats” are divine, like in the charcuterie trays at some great places like Holeman & Finch. But, the delicate nature and qualities of those are wasted on a pizza, where you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them and something from, say, Boar’s Head or another quality “commercial” brand. You could make meatloaf with Kobe or Wagyu, but would it really be a good use of them?
The facts are that many of the trendy crowd think price equates “best”. Throw some gold flakes on it and charge $100 for that pizza and it would sell like hotcakes, with a parking lot full of German cars, and ladies with dresses shorter than their manicured nails sipping Moscato on the patio.

Liando sen

December 18th, 2012
1:39 pm

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you have a great site! Keep up the good work.

LillyHeeHaw

December 18th, 2012
4:10 pm

Two stars, man? Come on! That’s just unreasonable and doesn’t compute with everything you’ve said above! Agree with @Chris – this style pizza is best devoured with utensils like the do it in Naples. I love this place and I keep going back because it’s somewhere you can actually hang out and spend time with friends, not just in and out like a laundromat.

Edgewood Adam

December 18th, 2012
4:26 pm

Man are you people dumb. how much do you think a pizza cost at Mellow Mushroom. The specialty pies range from $19-22 for a 14″ pizza at MM. So yes, a 14″ carne pizza with cured meats made from a local butcher shop and house made mozzarella is going to cost $22. Enjoy the Little Ceasars, suburbanites!

Edgewood Adam

December 18th, 2012
4:27 pm

Edward

December 18th, 2012
8:30 pm

I think Edgewood Adam needs a diaper change, he got a little too worked up over there. And be sure to sell him one of those $48 “Kobe” burgers, I hear they throw in some french fries for free! ;-) BTW, I’ve lived in midtown for 30 years.

John

December 19th, 2012
9:05 am

Edward, thanks for quoting my name, but since my real name is John just call me that b/c we are friends. I agree most people can tell the difference b/t Little Caesars and a pizza made at a finer establishment, but if you compare boars head to cured meats, first of all there is a difference (can’t believe you can’t tell a difference btw Antico and MM), second of all the price difference is negligible if not equal. That was my original point. One thing I think we can agree on is that long term success of a pizza place will be won out by the food. So if your idea of this place is full of hipster stereotypes, and that makes you grumpy fine. But the quality of the food especially in this area where you have lots of choices will have to win out.