accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

LPC restaurant review, Midtown

$$-$$$

$$-$$$

Since opening in the fall of 2008, La Pietra Cucina in Midtown had its fair share of growing pains.

For nearly nine months, diners walked through the vast, unfinished space that once was MidCity cuisine to sit in the temporary dining room in the small back bar. But, despite the unorthodox layout, Chef Bruce Logue turned out his progressive Italian cuisine to nearly unanimous critical fanfare. Even after the full remodeled dining room opened in May of 2009, the restaurant faced an obvious cohesiveness problem, but remained buoyed by the strength of Logue’s dishes. But when Logue left in March of 2012, it was time for La Pietra Cucina to adapt.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

Enter Concentrics Restaurants. Under managerial control of their consulting arm, Concentrics oversaw La Pietra Cucina’s total overhaul. Rebranded as LPC, it reopened last fall with remodeled interior, a new chef, and a revamped, more approachable and affordable menu.

One obvious improvement is in the remodeling. Gone are the maroon and gold velvet-heavy walls and gaudy chandeliers, replaced with a brighter and more modern feeling dining room. The Johnson Studio teamed up with Concentrics to make the space more inviting, with sharper lines, more natural light, and the addition of a window into the kitchen, further opening up the space.

You may recognize new Executive Chef Russell Kook, if not from his time at The Florentine or CUT Steakhouse in Chicago, than from his runner-up finish on season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen. Of all of the players in the reinvention of LPC, I envy Kook the least. Given that Logue’s cooking was easily the best part of the old La Pietra Cucina, Kook is tasked with fixing one of the only things here that wasn’t broken. But to compare their food as apples-to-apples is unfair, as the new LPC focuses on a more casual take on refined Italian cuisine.

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

Kook’s new menu focuses more on small, shareable plates, offering pasta dishes in half and full servings, and now includes a small selection of thin crust pizzas. The only holdover from the previous menu is the immensely popular squid ink spaghetti ($11/$19), but other than the purplish black pasta, little remains from the old dish. Instead of shrimp and Calabrese sausage, Kook features blue crab, Serrano, grapefruit, and sea urchin. While I may wish to taste Logue’s original again someday, I’m more than happy with the rich blend of fresh crab and sea urchin in front of me.

Though a little cumbersome, we thoroughly enjoy the bruschetta of the day ($7), topped with ricotta, sopressata, cannellini beans, garlic bread crumbs, and pickled onion. And the Brussels sprouts salad ($12) surprises, arriving more of a slaw of shredded Brussels sprouts tossed with hardboiled egg, pecorino, almonds, and a light lemon vinaigrette.

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

But it is the pan fried octopus ($15) that steals my heart. I’d forgotten just how tender the usually tough cephalopod can be when prepared correctly. The thick fork-tender tentacle, lightly fried, arrives atop a nest of grilled frisee and pickled pearl onions, but it is the smoky and spicy arrabiata sauce that best accents the meat. This dish will convert many of the octopus haters among you.

I’ll admit to some skepticism over the addition of pizza to the retooled menu. It felt too much like a transparent attempt to class-down the menu, an obvious choice to show just how casual the new LPC would be. However, my fear was unfounded. Though it would make a perfectly fine meal for one, I suggest splitting the mushroom pizza ($13) as an appetizer. The thin-crust, sauceless pie packs a lot of flavor, all earthy fungus and funky taleggio punctuated by sweet caramelized onions and pungent garlic chips.

It isn’t until the entrees that I find the first real let-downs of the experience. A beautifully cooked, velvety-soft braised short rib ($25) promises a hearty and rich conclusion to my meal, only to come up under seasoned and a little bland. And I have to assume that Kook doesn’t intend his prosciutto swapped monkfish ($27) to arrive so overcooked that the pork turns leathery and the fish dry.

Overall, I would call LPC’s makeover a success, correcting many of the issues that once detracted from the dining experience. But I have to wonder if an injection of casual into a menu that once wowed us was the best call. Kook is an excellent chef, displaying brilliance in more than a few dishes, but there are still a few consistency kinks to work out, and I’d to see him push the envelope further than a “casual take” might allow. Regardless, the new LPC is definitely one to watch.

LPC
1545 Peachtree St., Atlanta, 404-888-9709
2stars5
Food: Upscale casual Italian
Service: Ranges from acceptable to excellent, depending on the server
Best dishes: Pan fried octopus, squid ink spaghetti, mushroom pizza
Vegetarian selections: a few salads and pastas
Price range: $$-$$$
Credit cards: all major credit cards
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.- 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 5:30 p.m.- 10 p.m Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
Children: older children should be fine
Parking: Valet ($3)
Reservations: yes
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: low to medium
Patio: outdoor courtyard seating when weather permits
Takeout: yes

ratings_key_febUSE

8 comments Add your comment

Mmmm....Foood

January 24th, 2013
9:14 am

I ate there 2 weeks ago and it was great! The special was outstanding and that fried octopus is unreal! I didn’t have the entrees that Jon had, but the table did graze on many other items and we were impressed.

[...] LPC restaurant review, Midtown [...]

Greg Richland

January 24th, 2013
6:13 pm

We haven’t been since the makeover, sounds like its worth a try. Friends of ours told us that they heard Logue is opening a place in Inman Park this year- cant wait!

Marie Mom

January 24th, 2013
6:49 pm

I love the pizzas! With a big bar, I think they are looking to satisfy that half of the restaurant. I wish they could take over the giant plaza out front. There aren’t enough good outdoor places in Atlanta!

Sarah Carlin

January 24th, 2013
7:02 pm

LPC is hands down my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. I love the butternut squash piramides, my mouth waters thinking about them. I am also in serious lust over the salted caramel gelato.
Go early and plan on staying. Take your time and try dishes, family style. Let the staff, particularly Robert and Houston, guide the way. You won’t be led wrong.

Paul J

January 25th, 2013
9:42 am

LPC cooks great at all. I also love their pizza. I am a pizza lover but LPC pizza is the best of all pizza I have tried from other food establishments. Keep up the good work guys!

Mike

January 25th, 2013
12:08 pm

Prosciutto swapped monkfish? Filing stories from your iPhone again? I assume you mean wrapped…

Steve

January 25th, 2013
5:34 pm

I know this site gives quality depending posts and other information, is there
any other website which presents such things in quality?