Moving back to Atlanta after a 15 year absence, not much of what I remembered of Atlanta from the 80's was still here (which is probably a good thing, trust me!). But Fellini's was still here after all these years, and I had fond memories of the pizza from my college days. Trying it again after all this time, however, proved to be a big disappointment. It was either my taste has improved a lot, or that I had had the food equivalent of beer goggles in those days, or both, but the pizza at Fellini's didn't cut it any more. So, after a few days of sulking, I set about finding what was available in the notorious pizza wasteland of Atlanta.
My first big find was Cameli's Pizza, next to the Murder Kroger on Ponce, by City Hall East. It's a very laid back place, with a great staff, good beer, and the Monster Slice is fantastic. I've had their whole pies, and while good, the Monster Slice is the way to go. Surprisingly crisp, and very thin, with great flavor. Perfectly done. If you like the really thin, crisp NY-style slice, this is it!
The next big find was Antico's Pizza, over on Hemphill by Georgia Tech. You sit in a big open space that is essentially the kitchen, where there are several large ovens that the owner said reaches temperatures of 1100 deg F. The pizza cooks in about a minute. The style is quite different from Cameli's, more actual italian-style, with more whole or chunks of tomatoes, rather than a pureed sauce. The crust is phenomenal, very crispy and delicate around the edge, and so thin that barely exists toward the center. The toppings are all really delicious, especially the sweet peppers and meat on the Diavolo. Being able to bring your own wine/beer is a real plus, and the extra olive oil and peppers for the pizza is a very nice touch. The combination of the atmosphere and pizza is the best in Atlanta, and maybe the best I've had anywhere.
The final find was Varasano's, on Peachtree in Buckhead. More of a restaurant than Antico's, with a very similar style. The crust was perfect, very crisp and thin, and the toppings are also very good. I had Nana's, with the addition of the fennel sausage, and it was delicious. I think the crust was on par with Antico's, which is saying a lot. I'd still like to try other pizzas on the menu, but the one that I had was good, but the toppings were not quite as interesting as those at Antico's. But we now have at least 2 great pizza places in Atlanta! The night that I went, however, the service at Varasano's was a train-wreck. The waiter was very nice, but clearly not handling things well, and they ran out of silverware and napkins, and several times we had to go and retrieve our own things (like extra plates, silverware/napkins, etc.). Rather than the fault of the waiter, I think it was a complete meltdown of the whole restaurant. Luckily the food was good, or else I would have been really pissed at the service. Take your chances here, or get out of the hell that is Buckhead, and get over to Antico's or over to Cameli's.
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