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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Flame up at Fuoco di Napoli?

Fuocos pizza in jeopardy?
Fuoco di Napoli and its excellent pizza margherita were recently the subject of a Cheap Eats column I wrote. I noted that Enrico Liberato had built the brick oven there himself and was "manning the oven, working the dough, and training the staff;" so when a reader commented online yesterday that Liberato "already quit and walked out" over the weekend, Creative Loafing had to investigate. I spoke with one of the owners, Lori McDowell, who confirmed that Liberato was now on a "leave of absence." She could not confirm the timing or likelihood of his return to the restaurant.

It seems, though, that the leave of absence may now be more than just a matter of Liberato walking out.

Further investigating by Gravy Train writer Laura Horton turned up a Fulton County Sheriff's Office booking record for an "Enrico Liberato" from March 3, and the mug shot appears to be that of Fuoco di Napoli's pizzaiolo Enrico Liberato. Charges include aggravated assault and "Immigration_A210150750" (Liberato is from Italy).

Until more is known, McDowell did confirm that Fuoco di Napoli would go on making the same menu and pizza during Liberato's leave. Based on my many visits there over the past few months, it was clear that Liberato was training several people in the kitchen, so the potential loss of his presence at the oven does not necessarily spell doom for the quality of the pizza.

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