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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Floataway Cafe

Insalata caprese at Floataway Cafe

Insalata caprese at Floataway Cafe

Is Floataway Cafe an Italian restaurant?

Not precisely. The kitchen prepares “fresh seasonal cuisine created with country French, Mediterranean and Italian influences” according to its website.

But it always seems to me that this 15-year-old restaurant succeeds with the kinds of benchmark Italian dishes where more orthodox Italian restaurants fail. Wood-oven pizzas with market toppings. Handmade pastas. Piccolo frito. This seasonal insalata caprese (at left).

For the past eight months or so, the chef at Floataway has been Todd Immel. He was the longtime charcuterie master at  sister establishment Star Provisions, and before that a local chef of some renown, who first made his name at  Oscar’s in College Park.

I honestly don’t see a lot of Immel’s personality on the menu, beyond some interesting pasta dishes. Many longtime favorites remain, though I imagine there was a little squawking when then rosemary-skewered chicken livers came off the menu.

But that’s Floataway: it will always reflect the California-Italian (by way of the American South) sensibility of owner Anne Quatrano. The simple, non-cheffy food is what guests love here.

Gulf blue crab fritter with zucchini and pickled red onion

Gulf blue crab fritter with zucchini and pickled red onion

The crunchy, orb-like crab fritter with its yielding ultimate-crabcake center now gets a base of slick, marinated zucchini with a few threads of pickled red onion.

Cold corn soup

Cold corn soup

A dusting of smoked paprika adds the barest piquancy to a smooth, sweet corn soup with crème fraîche. How nice to taste a spice so fresh you can sprinkle it on the food.

Orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage and carrots

Orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage and carrots

I didn’t find that this pasta added up to more than the sum of its parts, but what tasty parts. I can’t wait to try more of Immel’s terrific dried pasta.

Pan-roasted duck with eggplant caponata

Pan-roasted duck with eggplant caponata

This is the kind of entree that makes any glass of red wine taste better. The duck was cooked to an expressively gamey medium rare. Though the tender meat came at the expense of the skin, which I found too flabby to enjoy. I’d call the business underneath more of a tangy eggplant stir-fry rather than a true caponata. The vegetable’s chewy flesh didn’t have that stewy softness and developed flavor I look for in caponata.

Ice milk

Ice milk

I can never leave without a bite of this soft-serve ice milk topped with (left to right) granola, cocoa nibs and candied lemon zest, and olive oil with sea salt. The richness is all in the mouth, not in the way it feels in your stomach.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

5 comments Add your comment

CA

August 2nd, 2013
12:09 pm

Dal Cuore in John’s Creek– “Humble Italian Cooking”. Have a fresh pasta and wine store next door to their restaurant.

RK

August 2nd, 2013
12:17 pm

Any sauce on the orecchiette? It looks dry.

Wilbur

August 2nd, 2013
12:51 pm

Feh. Ate here a while ago. It was nice, but I’ll take General Muir nearby.

Latest Restaurants News

August 3rd, 2013
3:49 pm

[...] 30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Floataway Cafe But it always seems to me that this 15-year-old restaurant succeeds with the kinds of benchmark Italian dishes where more orthodox Italian restaurants fail. Wood-oven pizzas with market toppings. Handmade pastas. Piccolo frito. This seasonal insalata … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Paul from Milton

August 4th, 2013
11:39 am

I guess I’m out of step here but to me this is the most over rated restaurant in Atlanta, I have been there three times and just don’t understand what the fuss is about. The food is solid but not great. I have yet to leave there thinking that I have to eat there again. Someone else described it as “meh” and I think it fits perfectly.