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

Varuni Napoli stealth report

Luca Varuni

Luca Varuni

Over the weekend I found myself at a “friends and family night” for a new restaurant.

Ever been to one?

It happens usually on the eve of a grand opening, when the owners invite a roomful of sympathetic souls to eat and drink so the kitchen and service staff can experience a packed house in the new space.

I didn’t realize that’s what was going on when friends called me and my wife on the spur of the moment and asked us to join them at Varuni Napoli. This new Neapolitan pizzeria in Morningside comes from Antico Pizza Napoletana alum Luca Varuni. Fans of that latter restaurant will surely recognize Varuni as the former star pizzaiolo. It was a merry free-for-all, with much wine and unbidden food arriving at the table, many toasts, and Varuni’s father walking through the dining room singing opera arias.

You may be asking, “Is the world ready for yet another Antico clone?”

To which I would respond: Duh.

But I would also aver that Varuni is no clone. The space is larger, …

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Want a $25 Dining Card?

Strawberry tart from Little Tart Bakery (credit: Becky Stein)

Strawberry tart from Little Tart Bakery (credit: Becky Stein)

You know what would taste good? A $25 gift certificate to King + Duke, that’s what.

Please post on Twitter or Instagram a photo of a favorite restaurant dish with the hashtag #AJCwheretoeat, and you will be entered to get these dining dollars. We’re giving away one gift certificate every day this week, so enter daily and enter often.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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Diesel Filling Station Boycotts Sweetwater


It all started with a report in Creative Loafing earlier this month that beer from other Georgia craft breweries had been pushed out of Turner Field by an exclusive sponsorship deal between the Braves and Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Co., which included a bigger presence around the park and the takeover of the former Coors kiosk in the Fan Plaza near the front gates.

Soon after, baseball loving beer geeks were crying foul, noting that beer from Red Brick and Terrapin were missing from the opening day lineup.

Over the weekend, Diesel Filling Station in Virginia-Highland posted a message on its outdoor sign declaring that the bar would boycott Sweetwater and no longer carry its beer.

“It was 420 weekend, so we thought we’d have some fun,” Diesel owner Justin Haynie said today, referring to 420 Fest, the big Sweetwater music and beer festival that was going on Friday-Sunday at Centennial Olympic Park.

“The decision was based on the Turner Field thing,” Haynie said. …

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Beyond the Wine List

Take all your previous thoughts about servers, bartenders, and others in the restaurant industry and throw them out the window.

4_21_wineImagine having to look at a glass of red wine and describe the exact color and viscosity. And no- saying, “It’s red” will not cut it.

From there, stick your nose in the glass (the deeper the better) and take a whiff. Hmm, that wine smells fruity? What kind of fruits? Cherries. Okay, are they dried or baked?

Go through this process for scent and palate, pulling from your repertoire the smell and taste of different flowers, herbs, organic earth and minerals. It may be time for you to start smelling the wet banks of a riverbed or limestone.

Perhaps my favorite description by one of the Master Sommeliers: “This wine smells like you are drinking it while standing beside a well-groomed horse.” Nicely put.

A server, chef or bartender that knows wine has serious talent. And I gathered with more than 100 hopefuls from the industry, to take the …

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Pick 5: Better than Easter Brunch

Chocolate South's handcrafted chocolate assortment

Chocolate South's handcrafted chocolate assortment

Alright folks, Easter weekend is upon us. We wanted to break the mold of Easter brunch and offer you some fun food events that are different from your traditional seated meal.

So why don’t you….

Call over the tableside crepe cart…

At BLT Steak Atlanta. You’ll get an insider’s look on this French tradition of crèpe preparation. Watch as the batter bubbles into a sheet-thin browned blanket, which is folded into an edible blanket filled with fresh berries, Nutella and sweet cream.

Fill the Easter basket with…

Chocolate South’s locally-made handcrafted chocolates. Upon biting into a chocolate egg, Kona coffee and Gran Marnier infused cream gushes out and embraces your sweet tooth. White chocolate mini bunnies are laced with lemon oil and the chocolates filled with peach tea infused cream make you forget peach tea was served any other way.

Sip your way through an egg hunt….

Without leaving the bar. You …

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AJC Spring Dining Guide: 25 Must-try Dishes

Oysters from the Kimball House (Jason Getz)

Oysters from the Kimball House (Jason Getz)

Ever had a dish in a restaurant that was so good that it kind of became the restaurant for you?

The mouthful that stayed in your mind the next day and the next week and lodged there until you had an opportunity to go back and eat it again?

I’ve had that reaction with all the dishes here. I hope you agree with me.

Check out a gallery of our 25 must-try dishes here.

Subscribers can find the full guide online here.

And it’s right purty in print!

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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AJC Spring Dining Guide 2014: Questions? Comments?

Photo Credit: Becky Stein

Photo Credit: Becky Stein

Our Spring Dining Guide will come out tomorrow with our list of 25 Must-try Dishes in and around Atlanta.

This is one of them. Do you know what it is and where it is served?

If you have any questions about the dining guide, please submit them now in the comments below, or send an email to with “SPRING DINING GUIDE” in the subject line. Thanks!

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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Salt Factory Pub Adds Third Location

salt-factoryjpgF&H Food Trading Group is expanding Salt Factory Pub to a third location in Woodstock, set to open mid-summer of 2014. Restauranteurs Hicham Azhari and Fikret Kovak have been expanding their concepts rapidly over the past year. Salt Factory Pub currently has a flagship on Canton Street in Roswell and a second location in downtown Alpharetta.

In addition to the gastropub fare, the new Salt Factory Pub boasts an expansive oyster menu, al fresco dining and a bocce ball court. It will open summer 2014 for lunch and dinner at 8690 Main Street, Woodstock. For more information, please visit or the Facebook page.

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Chance of a lifetime for Bocuse d’Or chef Philip Tessier

Chef Philip Tessier (credit: The Chef's Garden)

Chef Philip Tessier (credit: The Chef's Garden)

MILAN, Ohio — Gavin Kaysen likes to tell the story of the time he went to a wedding in Sweden. He got into a conversation with a tablemate and revealed that he had once represented Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition. The other guest was flabbergasted.

“You must be very famous in America!” he exclaimed, amazed.

Kaysen, the chef at Cafe Boulud in New York, explained that, no, Americans generally don’t pay much heed to the world’s premier international cooking competition.

This biannual event brings together two-man teams from 24 countries around the globe. During two days of brutal competition in a packed arena, knives will flash, fires will flare and gorgeous platters (some of which cost as much as a Maserati) will be paraded through the cheering crowd before being fed ceremoniously to a panel of judges. Think of it like “The Hunger Games” with less blood and more butter. No American team has ever placed higher than …

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Local Applebee’s Changes Name for One Day

4_16_onionsThere are few exclusive Georgia-grown products that appear “for a limited time.” However, the Vidalia onion is our pride and joy. New York Times recently wrote up a feature on our superstar crop, where the ingredient appears on local restaurant’s menus.

However one chain restaurant, Applebee’s is re-naming their restaurant for one day only to celebrate the first Vidalia onion crop of the season. Next Friday, April 25, The Dunwoody Applebee’s location (130 Perimeter Center Place) will be renamed Vidalia-Bee’s.

The restaurant has developed a partnership with Vidalia Onion Committee and created a new grilled Vidalia Onion sirloin featuring local Vidalias. Bright and early at 6:30 a.m., the Executive Chef will welcome in the first batch of Vidalia onions from the farms and create the first dish of the season.

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