I don’t imagine a soul in Atlanta wants to revisit the pizza wars or hear another point-by-point comparison of crust and char. Besides, everyone knows who won: Giovanni di Palma and Antico Pizza Napoletana. Not only did this makeshift restaurant make di Palma hugely rich, the maestro behind a burgeoning Little Italy in Home Park, but it still attracts nightly lines and national accolades. His latest, Caffè Gio, features imported gelato and delicious (if expensive) sandwiches made with cold cuts, meatballs and chicken parm.
I do enjoy both the pizza and the circus at Antico, but let me quietly note at the bottom of this article that the best pizza in Atlanta is, in fact, at Varasano’s Pizzeria.
The restaurant has calmed down since its opening. It feels less concerned with selling the brand of owner Jeffrey Varasano and more in the business of cooking a fine product.
The crust — thin, crispy, pliable, lightly soured, well salted — tastes good whether you’re folding it to cram in your mouth, cutting it with a knife and fork or picking at the leftover bits with your fingers. These pizzas are constructed with care and that certain finesse that makes the tomato sauce taste brighter and the cheese milkier. Add in a good salad, an acceptable glass of wine, and — if you’re hungry — an order of tender meatballs in terrific tomato gravy.
I’m glad the pizza trend has passed. This pleasure is timeless.
P.S. More on Caffè Gio later.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog