Word of Mouth 

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Page 6 of 9

Planet Bombay, 451 Moreland Ave., 404-688-0005. L5P newcomer with thick, hearty soups (Mulligatawny, fresh mushroom), notable rice pilafs and Indian breads, good curried vegetable combinations and low prices. -- E.M.

Shingaar Palace, North Hill Plaza, 3364-H Chamblee-Tucker Road, Chamblee, 770-458-4466. Newcomer offers what may be the city's best combination of authentic Indian food, agreeable service and elegant, albeit colonial-style comforts. Appetizers, vegetables and curry sauces are particularly notable. --EM.

Udipi Cafe, 1850 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 404-325-1933. Savory rice pilafs, spicy vegetable curries and spectacular stuffed crepes and pancakes are but four reasons to seek out the city's newest South Indian vegetarian outlet. Sophisticated carrot desserts, traditional beverages and crisp breads double the pleasure. Table service is a plus. -- EM

Antica Posta, 519 E. Paces Ferry Road, 404-262-7112. At the former Riviera, French cuisine has been replaced by Tuscan specialties such as superb risottos and superior but simply prepared seafood and seasonal vegetables. Prices are down, and so is the glitz factor. Service and comforts are still first rate, making this a special-occasion destination as well as a place to enjoy the kind of Italian food served in Italy, not New York. -- EM

Aromi, 1025 Virginia Ave. NE, 404-607-0220. With a brightly lit neon store front just a few doors east of the Virginia-Highland intersection, Aromi has sweets, coffee, gelato crepes and panini. Gelato flavors include peach, raspberry, lemon, banana, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate chip and more. Lightly press-grilled panini are served on foccacia and come with chips. And as if all this weren't enough lure -- the coffee's great, too. -- SL

Ciao Bella, 309 Pharr Road, 404-261-6013. Simplicity is the approach here. Order big, white bowls of perfect pastas -- with wild mushrooms or mussels and anchovies. Prices are low, the crowd is convivial and the staff is thoroughly Italian. -- CBB

Eno, 800 Peachtree St. at Fifth, 404-685-3191. Conceived as an extremely comfortable laboratory where food and drink pairings may be explored, Doug Strickland's and Jamie Adams' Mediterranean bistro could raise the standards of corporate Atlanta's drinking classes. Food is fashionably Cal-Italian -- lots of olives, olive oil, fruit, fresh fish and seasonal ingredients. The cooking is first rate, the crowd Midtown hot. Sidewalk tables, wine room, tastings featured. -- EM

Fratelli di Napoli, 2101 Bennett St., 404-351-1533; 928 Canton St., Roswell, 770-642-9917. Big-deal, super-size takes on Little Italy specializing in homestyle platters serving two to four. Chicken with eggplant, spinach salad with gorgonzola dressing and tiramisu are standouts. Dinner nightly. Reservations for six or more. -- EM

Fritti, 311 N. Highland Ave., 404-880-9559. Riccardo Ullio's younger, hipper sibling to next-door Sotto Sotto offers hits and few big misses in such departments as authentic Italian croquettes, bracing salads, fried seafood and thin-crusted, rustic pizzas with exotic toppings. Atmosphere, service and wine list are notable as well. --EM.

Grappa, 3097 Maple Drive, 404-262-9749. Soups and salads are best bets at this Tuscanized Buckhead bungalow inhabited by co-chefs Lynne Gigliotti (Gigliotti Culinary Concepts, Grapevine Cafe, Azio) and Christophe Vessaire (Resto des Amis, French Embassy, Washington, D.C.). Dinner only. -- EM

Grant Central West, 451 Cherokee Ave., 404-523-8900. Not to be confused with its stepbrother, Grant Central Pizza & Pasta in East Atlanta, Grant Central in Grant Park is a relaxing neighborhood bar and accommodating family pizza parlor. You'll have trouble deciding whether you prefer their thin crust pizza, cheesy calzones, fettuccine alfredo or eggplant parmigiana. -- KL

Il Fornaio, 700 Ashwood Parkway, 678-579-0000. Italian bakery-chain link with a complete line of surprisingly authentic ciao-chow. Unusual pastas, pizzas, superior salads and grilled meats and seafood are mostly worth their moderate prices. Full bar, professional team service, reservations accepted. Good for takeout, especially at breakfast. --EM.

La Grotta, 2637 Peachtree Road, 404-231-1368. This is one of Atlanta's longest-running fine dining experiences, evidenced by the '70s decor and Italian cuisine. Try the tuna carpaccio and the roasted quail stuffed with sausage. -- SSS

La Tavola, 992 Virginia Ave., at N. Highland Avenue, 404-873-5430. When this restaurant was opened by the owners of the Food Studio and South City Kitchen, its sleek decor made quite a splash, but its cuisine fell flat. Instead of the authentic Italian cuisine Atlantans crave, La Tavola oddly offered an unpleasant Italian-American blend. So we're pleased with the restaurant's willingness to re-examine itself. Last summer, it hired Joey Masi to rework the menu and retrain the kitchen staff. The results are impressive. Authenticity rules. The zuppa di pesce is a standout, as are the seared cod with polenta and the grilled pork chop. Pastas can be too oily but you can remedy that by asking for a lighter touch with the butter. - CBB


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