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

PIzza Revisited

dine0508

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

38 comments Add your comment

Krystle

October 4th, 2013
8:45 am

Varasano’s is just so much more relaxing and comfortable. Antico’s, I’m in and out in like 20 minutes. I can sit back with some wine (pass on the overpriced underpoured cocktails) and enjoy an appetizer, pizza, tiramisu, more wine, more wine…plus family friendly.

Edward

October 4th, 2013
9:04 am

I do enjoy Antico’s pizzas, but for just-as-good-or-better without the rushed atmosphere, I go to Varasano’s. Especially nice is that I can walk there. Having a friend drop by, we walk up to Varasano’s to enjoy a pizza and some wine while enjoying the nice weather on the patio, that’s a great evening.

Big_Black

October 4th, 2013
10:06 am

I’ve been to antico. It was ok. I decided to make my own earth oven in my back yard so that I can get that wood fired oven pizza taste anytime I want.

If you TRULY want to eat well, build your own earth oven. You will discover the “secret” to great tasting pizza. Your own earth overn pizza beats Antico, Fellini’s, or Everybody’s ANYDAY.

google:kiko dnezer. Enjoy the ride.

I just schnitzeled my pants!

October 4th, 2013
11:03 am

Only one local beer on the menu and it is Sweetwater 420? I understand the Italian beers. I don’t understand why there is only one local beer, and it is the worst local beer to be had.

Does the corkage fee apply to wine only? Or can I bring a couple of bombers of Pliny the Elder?

Clamfarts

October 4th, 2013
11:04 am

Ditto Big_Black. Antico’s is ok, but not much different or any better than the 100s of other places that do the exact same thing, but it is something completely different when you make it in your own oven.

HongryinAcworth

October 4th, 2013
11:21 am

Tried antico’s and was disappointed. Crust was limp. Toppings were nice. Did I get a bad batch or am I missing something? Didn’t care for set up (parking, communal tables, it was hot) but I suppose that is part of the fun for some. Want to try Verasanos.

Salty1

October 4th, 2013
12:03 pm

Growing up in a salt mine in a former Soviet republic near the Turkish border I acquired not just a predilection for salt but a genuinely unquenchable craving for the tasty mineral.
My preternatural fondness for titillating the tip of my tongue extends prenatally, as my mother, too, cut her teeth on the salt mines of Azerbaijan. And hers before her.
So, naturally, when I want a styptic snack only pizza will do.
and not just any pizza. I want Antico. On any given day you can see a cement mixer truck unloading its salt delivery directly into the Antico kitchen.
I will tell you there is nothing saltier than an Antico pizza, and I love it.

Georgia Peach

October 4th, 2013
12:53 pm

Varasano’s is definitely the best, it’s not even close! They also have some great regulars as well… there’s one handsome gentleman in particular who lives across the street (I think his name is Chip)… he’s 30-something, very witty, intelligent, obviously successful… He gave me great advice on what to order and even asked the owner to come over and solve his rubix cube for us! Between the pizza, the great staff, and a classically cool customer base, I’ll keep coming back!

The Wizard of OZ

October 4th, 2013
1:00 pm

I only eat vegetarian pizza, so I really cannot comment on the pizzas that most folks look to to compare pizza joints, but OZ (College Park and Fairburn – never been to the Fairburn location) absolutely has the best “Ultimate Vegetarian” pizza. Deep fried eggplant, tomatoes, broccoli, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onions, olives, and fresh garlic (might have left something out – there is so much on every slice) all on a thin crust that is wonderful. Some may not be able to live through a meal without meat, but this pizza at Oz is definitely worth a try. Certainly beats the crappy bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, and onions options that the worthless, inferior places offer.

Jim

October 4th, 2013
1:02 pm

We have enjoyed taking friends here for “the best pizza” ever since we went to a tasting at Jeff’s house where he was destroying kitchen ovens on a regular basis trying to get to 800 degrees!

The Wizard of OZ

October 4th, 2013
1:09 pm

OK, so I see all the comments on Verasanos and checked out their menu. Again, a pathetically limited selection of vegetable toppings for a pizza though I will complement them on the use of herbs and different cheeses. May be worth a stop. Oh, and Oz also throws on extra fresh mozzarella cheese to make it extra gooey.

Pashtun Prince

October 4th, 2013
2:03 pm

Ok, Oz, we get it. Enough. You’re gay for veggies. That’s fine. It’s really no big deal. No one wants to argue with you about it. I am happy for you and your eggplant. Just stop commenting on restaurants that serve the tastes of the general public with tidbits about your personal problems.
If you want vegetarian pizza, get some semolina flour and a brick oven and make your own at home. No one wants to smell your fake-organic farts anyway.

Sally

October 4th, 2013
2:37 pm

I am a vegetarian….and I think Varasano’s is amazing! They have 5+ pizzas for me to choose from…no fried eggplant (gross), but the Caramelized onion is so different and delicious. I love Antico also, but I agree that Varasano’s is the Best in Atlanta! Just a perspective from a veggie person who has organic/veggie farts and has actually eaten at Varasanos :)

Pashtun Prince

October 4th, 2013
3:32 pm

Thank you, Sally. My faith in humanity is restored.

Laura

October 4th, 2013
3:55 pm

The service at Varasano’s is terrible and half the time my meatballs come out cold. Fail.

Antico has my vote. At least I know not to expect service, food is hot, and I can BYO.

ane

October 4th, 2013
5:54 pm

Has anyone here ever traveled outside the perimeter for pizza? Big Pie in the Sky in Kennesaw is the best I’ve had since moving here 20 yrs. ago. There cheese pizza is excellent. I don’t care for many toppings, cheese, crust and sauce is pizza. Otherwise the pizza is nothing but a shovel to hold toppings.

wayne

October 4th, 2013
6:55 pm

Varsanos is devine

I just schnitzeled my pants!

October 4th, 2013
6:57 pm

HOT DOG I’M GOING TO HAVE A HAMBURGER!!!!!

Bontek

October 4th, 2013
7:02 pm

Village Pizza in Helen Ga

Baltisraul......

October 5th, 2013
8:22 am

schnitzeled……back on the beer theme again, I see. Get some new material. Nobody cares about your obsession over this topic. John, maybe it is time to ban schnitzled for awhile, again.

Varsano’s is at the top of many lists, including mine. But John, never saw anyone eat pizza w/ a knife and fork, except for Lou Malnottie’s in Chicago.

lkjlkj

October 6th, 2013
8:43 am

I had some visitors from out-of-town and they wanted to take me out to dinner on a Saturday night. They didn’t realize we wouldn’t be able to get reservations on a Saturday afternoon at any place good. So we went to Antico, and they enjoyed it but said the experience reminded them of the Seinfeld ‘Soup Nazi’ episode. From the time we parked the car to being back in it was, I think, 27 minutes, & that included a decent wait. Literally as soon as they saw we were almost done, they forced us out.

Art

October 6th, 2013
10:01 am

Our own John Kessler has written a piece in this Sunday’s edition of the AJC that is perhaps one of the best articles I have read in quite some time. Be forewarned it is largely a sad story in that it is an accounting of a local chef and his wife, their on-going battle with his cancer and their desire to fulfill a dream. All of you stalwart bloggers and fans of JK, you know who you are, should head out and buy this Sunday’s paper. It will be the best few dollars you spend all week.

JR

October 6th, 2013
7:29 pm

I returned to Antico recently and was very disappointed. Our pies were undercooked and under- whelming!! Soggy at best. The pizza arrived before we could secure a seat, so the experience was disappointing.

Don Vito Corleone

October 6th, 2013
7:51 pm

Rocky’s Brick Oven Pizza on Peachtree remains the greatest that Atlanta ever had.

RIP !

Homepage

October 6th, 2013
10:08 pm

… [Trackback] …

[...] Informations on that Topic: blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2013/10/04/pizza-revisited/ [...] …

alan

October 6th, 2013
11:11 pm

Amen to Rockys brick oven pizza. Sorely missed.

Bob from Accounttemps

October 7th, 2013
9:17 am

Wow — a first — this didn’t turn out to be a shout-out of everyone’s “better” pizza in Atlanta. Maybe there’s agreement that it’s between these 2. I still love Antico — tried Varsano’s once when they opened, but didn’t go back favoring other choices. Will definitely visit again now that it appears they’ve “settled in”.

NomNomNomATL

October 7th, 2013
9:53 am

Varasano’s is such a Buckhead scene and the owner is such a total dick that there is no way in hell I’ll spend any money there.

NomNomNomATL

October 7th, 2013
9:55 am

Varasano’s is such a Buckhead scene and the owner is such a total dick that there is no way in hell I’ll spend any money there. And the pizza is not as good as he thinks it is. It’s as limp as he is.

NomNomNomATL

October 7th, 2013
9:57 am

Yeah, so important it needed to be said twice.

John Kessler

October 7th, 2013
10:22 am

Wow, Art — Thank you so much!

Veggie

October 7th, 2013
1:25 pm

Art, I couldn’t agree more. Great article John! If only they gave Pulitzers for food writers.

PIzza Revisited | CookingPlanet

October 7th, 2013
7:11 pm

[...] PIzza Revisited [...]

Baltisraul......

October 8th, 2013
7:21 am

Veggie……they do give a Pulitizer like award for food writers, it’s called the ‘Oswald’. John should be in the crosshairs for that one, for sure.

Edward

October 8th, 2013
9:26 am

I’m beginning to believe people are served what their attitude demands. Certain people seem to get bad food/service nearly everywhere they go, while others get great food/service at those places. Maybe it really is YOU and that sour, wretched attitude you display so prominently.

J_T

October 8th, 2013
10:19 am

Sapori di Napoli in Decatur. As good as Antico or Varasano’s without the Pizza Nazi experience and genuinely nice owners to boot.

Baltisraul......

October 8th, 2013
12:54 pm

Edward, you are so right. Many folks, after a couple drinks, are just looking for something to complain about. They seldom have a good experience and then blame Atl for it’s poor culinary choices. I have worked w/ people that have that disease and have dined with people like that, but only once and never again.

berry steve

October 10th, 2013
8:48 am

@ Balt

The ‘Oswald’, now that is funny.