In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of di Paolo, an Italian restaurant that opened in Alpharetta in 1995. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.
Di Paolo’s core group of regulars appreciate its higher standard of service, a more interesting wine list and Italian fare with a little more pizzazz than the red-sauce standards they would get at a stuccoed, corner Italian outlet.
Chef Darin Hiebel, who took over di Paolo six years ago, runs a from-scratch kitchen that makes its own breads, pastas, sauces and gelato. Regulars have learned just what to order to get a meal worth repeating next week. They’ll go for dishes like wood-fired pizzas, select entrees like gorgonzola-spinach-stuffed chicken ($21) and they have rooted out the pastas worth devouring. Those in the know have learned how to make di Paolo their weekly haunt.
I can help you out with that if you aren’t a bona fide member of the regulars club. Nibble on the thin crust pizza, which is just weighty enough to support the cheese fest on the pizza con quattro formaggio ($13).
Also try the caul-fat-wrapped branzino ($30) that the regulars order for good reason. You’ll be thankful for that beautifully browned and crispy casing for the whole butterflied fish. It adds such richness and protects the lemony moisture of the fennel-stuffed branzino.
At such well-established spots like di Paolo, where neighborhood followers keep the tables full, it’s helpful to take cues from those who know and love it best.
Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.
–Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog