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

Archive for August, 2013

Caffé Gio by Giovanni Di Palma opens today

caffegio_logo_colorToday Giovanni Di Palma’s latest spot, Caffé Gio, opens its doors. This sister to Antico Pizza Napoletana and Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano will function as a traditional Neapolitan cafe and gelateria, offering Neapolitan street food for lunch each day.

Menu items will feature the flavors of the Amalfi coast. Look for six panini sandwiches on homemade ciabatta served with chicken soup or salad ($11-13). Caffé Gio will also serve a variety of salads topped with chicken, steak or jumbo grilled prawns ($11-13).

For dessert, the eatery will serve a selection of Neapolitan desserts with Kimbo coffee and espresso. But the highlight will be the 10 original gelato flavors and sorbets crafted in and imported from Bologna, Italy.

Di Palma originally announced that he would partner with Donald Sargent of Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream to produce the gelato. Di Palma responded to the change with the statement,

I’m a huge fan of Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream and they provide the best ice cream in …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: P. F. Chang’s China Bistro

Shake, rattle and roll: Shaking beef at P. F. Chang's China Bistro

Shake, rattle and roll: Shaking beef at P. F. Chang's China Bistro

The first Atlanta-area branch of Phoenix-based  P. F. Chang’s China Bistro opened in Dunwoody in 1998. Now there are four scattered throughout the northern suburbs and a fifth headed for…

Who know the answer?

Yes, Concourse A of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Flight delay? Get your lettuce wrap on.

The imminent airport opening provided an impetus to check in on the original local link in the chain, which I haven’t returned to since I reviewed it lo these many years. At that time, I admired the lodge-like dining room, with its stacked-stone walls and slate floors, but made predictable grumblings about the crowd-pleasing Chinese-American fare. “If you like deep-fried nuggets drenched in sweet sauce, you’re in luck,” I wrote in full snark dudgeon.

After 14 years, the dining room has held up. The high ceiling and deep booths show off the craftsmanship of the design. I’m not surprised that the restaurant …

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HD1 To Be Converted To FLIP Burger

FLIP Burger_ Interio#3DA10DConfirming rumors that have been floating for months, it was announced this morning that HD1, chef Richard Blais’ Poncey-Highland hot dog restaurant, will be converted to become the fourth FLIP burger boutique.

Of course, Blais is also the founding chef of the FLIP concept.

HD1 will close after dinner service on Sunday and the conversion is expected to take eight to ten weeks, according to co-owner Barry Mills.

A rooftop patio, originally planned for HD1, will  part of the construction.

“We are fully committed to growing the FLIP brand and expanding our strong reputation for innovative food in a high energy and fun environment. Moving forward, FLIP burger boutique will be our primary focus,” Mills said in the press release.

Fans of HD1 may be pleased to find that hot dogs will be on the menu, along with FLIP burgers and sides.

“It’s an exciting period of growth for FLIP and the demand for gourmet burgers is at an all time high,” Blais said in the press release. “At the …

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Will Twitter someday save you from food poisoning?

nEmesis-As someone that has been dealing with a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning over the last week or so, this is a story that is currently near and dear to my stomach.

While I cannot, and will not, publicly speculate as to which restaurant is responsible for my current state of misery, I can say this – if there is a voice in your head telling that the calamari at the bar you just ordered looks a little suspect….listen to it. It is probably right.

But pretty soon, I may have been able to avoid this situation using the power of social media.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have come up with a way to leverage the massive amounts of data online, specifically from Twitter, to help identify likely sources of food borne illness. Named “nEmesis”, this program is essentially a passive monitoring program that “listens” and combines the data from public tweets, geo-tagged Twitter messages, interprets the tweets to look for indications of food borne illness, and tracks user …

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Saltyard restaurant review, Buckhead

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Saltyard, the new small plates restaurant in Buckhead. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

At first glance, Saltyard seems to have all the pieces for a great restaurant: shareable small plates, 20 wines (mostly domestic) by the glass for perfect course pairings, a commitment to honest cooking, local sourcing. Yet, Saltyard remains a puzzle. All those pieces don’t assemble the perfect picture. The logistics of coursing muddle the experience, and the food is perhaps a little too unpretentious, a little too straightforward — the two dangers of small plates.

As we trend more toward small-plate dining and wine-by-the-glass sampling, the corollary in beverages, Saltyard has timed its market entry just right. Now with a few adjustments and a little more attention to detail, it could become an Atlanta destination for a more social, shareable dining experience.

Subscribers can read the review on

–by Jenny …

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Restaurant inspections, China Spring

You know the health inspection isn’t going well when the manager certified to ensure food safety gets flagged for not properly washing his hands or wearing a hair restraint.

China Spring, 7836 Tara Blvd., Jonesboro, paid the price for these violations, plus numerous others, during a recent routine inspection. The restaurant scored a 39/U.

The Clayton County health inspector said the food safety manager washed his hands, but then didn’t use a paper towel as a barrier when turning off the faucet. In fact, there were no paper towels at the employee hand sink, which was another code violation, according to the inspection report.

The manager and another employee were not wearing hair restraints while preparing food. The inspector was told there were no hair restraints in the facility.

Also, children were in the food prep area, which is against health regulations.

In other code violations, numerous food items had been taken out of their original packaging and placed in other …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Golden Corral


Okay, Snarkosphere, bear with me.

When I decided to visit chain restaurants this week, I promised to myself and to you that I would approach each place with an open mind and a spirit of hopeful curiosity about the food. I vowed I would not make any facile jokes about customers strapping on the feedbag, lining up at the trough, or shuffling into the feedlot — even if I find myself in a buffet restaurant named for a livestock holding pen.

On to Golden Corral!

I was honestly curious about this restaurant, particularly the one I observed going up earlier this year in the corner of the North Dekalb Mall parking lot. There are so many nights when my wife, kids and I want to catch a 7 o’clock movie at that mall and need to eat something fast, inexpensive and reasonably healthy beforehand.

Why not Golden Corral? It was made for this situation. The cost: $11.49 for a weeknight dinner and $12.99 on weekends during the current prime rib promotion. That’s not cheap, cheap, cheap, but …

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Eighth Annual Midtown Restaurant Week


The eighth annual Midtown Restaurant Week runs Saturday September 7, through Sunday, September 15, giving diners a chance to sample prix-fixe brunch, lunch and dinner  menus  priced at $15, $25 or $35.

Some 45 Midtown restaurant’s are participating in 2013, ranging over an area that stretches from West Midtown to the Old Fourth Ward.

Here’s the full list of restaurants, which organizers say is the biggest ever:

4th and Swift, 10th and Piedmont, Abattoir, Article 14, Atmosphere, Apres Diem, Bantam + Biddy, Campagnolo, Chick-a-Biddy, Cow Tippers, Cucina Asellina, Cypress, Do at the View, Ecco, Eleven, Einstein’s, Escorpion, Flip Burger Boutique, Gilberts, Goin’ Coastal, HOBNOB, The Lawrence, La Tagliatella, Livingston, Lure, Meehan’s Public House, Melting Pot, Mi Cocina, Murphy’s, Nakato, The Nook, The Oceanaire, One Midtown Kitchen, Ormsbys, Pasta da Pulcinella, Park 75, Ri Ra, Rosa Mexicano, Senor Patron, Serpas, Shout, South City Kitchen, The Spence, Spice Market, Steel …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Zoës Kitchen

A cross of chicken kabobs

A cross of chicken kabobs over orzo salad

When this chain of health-minded fast-casual restaurants started hitting the Atlanta area, I got an email from its publicist warning me to pay close attention to the spelling of its name – Zoës Kitchen — dieresis over the “e,” no apostrophe. No explanation was given, which left me wondering if there was one Zoë or two behind this restaurant chain, or just an O.C.D. typographer designing the logo.

In fact there is just one Zoë Cassimus, who opened a small cafe in a Birmingham suburb about 20 years ago. By all accounts she had a knack for presenting the cooking of her Greek heritage within the framework of a comfortable Southern café — a place where chicken salad and pimento cheese coexist comfortably with Greek salads, kabobs and hummus.

Cassimus’ son, John, would help to open more company-owned and franchised locations. It has been a successful venture, and the company is now majority owned by a Los Angeles private equity firm. There …

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Gluten-free dining at Thomas Keller’s restaurants

Bread basket at The French Laundry

Bread basket at The French Laundry

You may have read about my recent experience dining at The French Laundry. While in wine country, we also had dinner at Ad Hoc and stopped in the Bouchon Bakery. I was very interested to see how each of Thomas Keller’s restaurants treated gluten-free diners given that the popular Cup 4 Cup all-purpose, gluten-free flour was developed at The French Laundry.

The product’s website describes its origins,

Cup 4 Cup was developed in the famed French Laundry in Yountville, CA, by Lena Kwak, then the restaurant’sResearch & Development Chef. One day, a guest tasted Lena’s brioche and cried because she hadn’t eaten bread for seven years. Lena and her mentor, Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner of The French Laundry, decidedthey had to find a way to share this premium gluten-free flour with more people.

Given that information, I thought The French Laundry would be sensitive to gluten-free eaters, making substitutions and offering a separate basket containing …

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